Friday, 2 March 2012

Muse, A New Design Tool From Adobe

Adobe Muse

Adobe has brought out a beta version of its new project, Muse, which it claims requires no coding ability and is simple to use. But is it?

What it is

"The ability to build Web sites as easily as laying out a page in InDesign is one of the most popular requests from our design customers," Lea Hickman, vice president of Design and Web product management at Adobe, said in a statement. "Those who have tested Muse are thrilled that something this intuitive yet powerful is now available."

I downloaded it and gave it a go because I saw Jason Santa Maria's tweet. I set a lot of store by what he says and thoroughly agree with everything he says here and in this article.

In a nutshell, Jason says

For those asking: Dreamweaver tries to solve problems by throwing code at the wall, Muse tries to solve problems with design.

It's basically a layout tool that can render your design in HMTL so you can upload it to a website. You click on buttons to draw boxes into which you add text or widgets for slideshows. It seems that, to add images you have to use HTML that you have no access to there. There appears to be no tool to insert images.

How it compares with other design tools

I usually use Kompozer, which gives me a WYSIWYG interface, access to the HTML code, and, which cleans up my code for me, separating my HTML from my CSS and rendering it W3C compliant. I use GIMP for my graphics because it's easier to use than Photoshop and less flippin' bloated. That's three programs to do one job, BUT they do it quickly and well. Kompozer writes the HTML and CSS, which I adjust manually as and when required. GIMP generates and adjusts images.

These opensource programs give me full control of my layout and content, rendering Muse all but redundant. I can add Dynamic Drive slideshows if I want to, and Kompozer gives me the control to place them where I want using a WYSIWYG interface rather than vainly trying to manipulate a marquee on the Muse screen. It's designed for people who don't know code - and, it seems, aren't fussed about the outcome of their efforts. Any general sitebuilding programs leave Muse flailing in their wake, unable to keep up with the flexibility, functionality, and control they offer.

User Experience

Amazing Cakes, A Muse dummy websiteMuse is a beta application at the moment, so when the full version comes out, it will no doubt have more bells and whistles to offer. In case you're curious, I've attached a screenshot of what I managed to achieve with it. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Have you noticed the borders around the boxes, and the failure to line them up neatly? It's supposed to be intuitive, but I had to dig around before I could work out how to change the font, and they don't make it easy for you when you do.

It's hard to control the text boxes and marquees with the mouse, and trying to get them equal in size takes more effort than it's worth.

There is no insert option so I had to use HTML and add a URL to the image I wanted to use. Since they also fail to make it easy to change the background, we're left with an amateurish effort that I could have done better using tables on this blog. Like many other Adobe products, it's bloated with unwarranted self-importance, oblivious to the fact that there are better applications out there which are much more effective and easier to use; they're just not called "Adobe."

I'm not impressed.

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