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Author: Imagine Admin
17th August 2011

Adobe’s new Muse

Publishing giant and design software leader Adobe has made available a new application for creating sites without touching any HTML

Adobe's new Muse

Publishing giant and design software leader Adobe has made available a new application for creating sites without touching any HTML. Codenamed Muse and running on Adobe AIR, the full release won’t arrive until early 2012 but users can already start road testing the innovative features today by visiting here. The software can effectively be described as a lightweight combination of the Dreamweaver design view IDE, Fireworks and certainly InDesign for the way layouts/templates are rapidly produced using intuitive drag and drop-based objects. This is desktop publishing for HTML in other words and offers another insight into how Adobe are looking to plug those gaps in the publishing spectrum left vacant by end user ability. With the rise of online-based services that unashamedly ‘dumb down’ the web design process but still deliver professional results, there clearly is a user base that will respond well to solutions such as this. With Apple set to phase out support for a tool like iWeb, perhaps this similar package will prove similarly popular with hobbyists and those designers who remain stubborn to the idea of mastering HTML, CSS, JavaScript and the like.

Upsetting the purists

However, is this the right strategy and does the accessibility of web publishing still produce in good, progressive content? There are some influential voices, such as outspoken web design expert and author Elliot Jay Stocks, who have been quick to question whether Adobe should be moving in this direction. Despite praising the InDesign-like approach and in fact the involvement of engineers from that particular product team, he asks if pandering to an increasingly rare designer/developer split makes good sense. “Many print designers might be afraid of HTML and CSS, but there isn’t one world-class web designer working right now who doesn’t know how to code.”
Muse also follows hot on the heels of another test release for Adobe, the HTML5/CSS3 animation tool called Edge, which we’ll be looking more closely at in Web Designer 188. Whether these are eventually incorporated into the inevitable CS6, marketed as separately shipped releases or indeed based totally in the cloud (which might make more sense) we shall have to wait and see.
“Both apps seem to be driven by similar motivations: Edge aims to make CSS animations easy for Flash developers and Muse aims to make website-building easy for print designers”, continues Elliot, “I am very skeptical about this.”
There’s also a great point to be made about the features of Muse, which do seem to circumvent some of the newer design ‘standards’ most progressive designers are trying to promote. Fixed layouts, non-semantic code and certainly the capabilities in terms of typography are all possible bones of contention that to be fair, could well be enhanced in time for a full rollout.

We’ll have a proper detailed look at using Muse in issue 189, but in the meantime we’d love to get your comments below on what you think of it. Have you downloaded it, tried it out already – or are you avoiding it out of principle?

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