Muse (Code Name)

I’ve just been looking at Adobe’s new piece of Web Design software which they released last week, Muse (code name), and have to say that it appears quite basic but the more time you spend with it the more you can see where Adobe are going with it.

Muse (code name), I feel a bit weird keep typing Muse (code name) but that’s what it’s called, is in early beta and is free to test until early next year when Adobe will be releasing a full production version that will be available as pay as you go ($20 per month) or an annual subscription ($15 a month).

The software uses Adobe’s Air platform and runs very smoothly. Styled elements, positioning, page properties and widgets are all implemented by using an interface that many InDesign users will feel very comfortable with. The software includes a few basic widgets for adding items such as navigation, slideshows, tabbed areas, etc and I must say they are implemented very well.

The markup produced from this software is surprising well laid out. Good use of indents for organising nested code, a lot like their flagship Website Deisgn tool Dreamweaver, and nice use of comments to sectionalise the header section for Javascript, CSS, etc. The only difference being that with Dreamweaver you can jump straight into the code to make vital amendments, whereas with Muse you can only work visually. This drag and drop style of working is all well and good but it means that tweaking the code invariably means jumping into your favourite code editor to finish the job. There is the facility to insert your own Html onto the page but only in its own DIV so this is not ideal.

Simple page layouts and sitemaps can be made very easily and I can see Agencies using it as a prototyping tool – but an expensive one at that.

Overall the software just feels a little lightweight and I suppose the hope is that Adobe will add a lot more functionality to the interface and open up the API so that developers can release their own widgets. At the moment Muse (code name) is aimed at Designers or at Developers who want to throw together a very quick page layout. It might only be an early beta release but the signs are certainly positive. Web Design tools are making certain parts of our job easier and Muse (code name) can certainly be added to that list of tools.

Mark Gorey: Senior Web Developer