Adobe Muse review

13 Sep 2011

Simple, high-impact web design in a completely code-free environment, but we’re wary of Adobe’s subscription plans

4

It might seem strange that Adobe is producing another web design application – after all, it already produces the dominant market leader in Dreamweaver. However, Dreamweaver’s success comes from its hands-on focus on the HTML, CSS and JavaScript code with which web pages are constructed. In stark contrast, Muse enables you to create design-rich websites in a completely code-free environment.

Based on this design-first principle, you might expect Muse to kick things off with a choice of pre-prepared templates, and that may be the case with the commercial release (which will also have a new name). For now, though, the free launch beta concentrates on helping users produce unique designs from scratch.

Click the New Site command and you’re presented with a simple dialog in which you set the page width (the height adjusts dynamically), number of columns, margins and so on, just as you would in a DTP application.

Adobe Muse

However, when you click OK you’re not taken to Design View, but rather to Muse’s Plan View. Here you’ll see your site presented as a hierarchy of page thumbnails. Building out from your homepage you can quickly add child and sibling pages to create your overall site organisation, and then control and re-order it simply by dragging and dropping.

As well as regular pages, the Plan View lets you add and apply master pages. It’s here that you design the overall look and feel by adding repeating elements such as banners, footers and logos. To help set up your master page framework, Muse provides smart layout guides, automatic object snapping, onscreen feedback and easy grouping.

Muse’s creative design power initially seems strangely limited, since the only drawing tool provided is the Rectangle tool. However, you can apply solid, gradient and bitmap fills, as well as shadow, glow and transparency effects, rounded corners and bevels, so you’ll soon be able to bring your page to life.

Muse also extends its own creative capabilities through integration with other applications. In particular, you can simply copy and paste bitmap graphics into Muse or load and place multiple files, including Photoshop PSD, Fireworks PNG and Flash SWF formats, using the Place Gun. Importing native Adobe file formats offers greater control, such as the mapping of PSD layers to rollover button states, and also enables round-trip editing.

Details

Price ex VAT £0
Price inc VAT £0
Overall rating 4
Ease of Use rating 5
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3
Software subcategory Web development