The Web design package NetObjects Fusion has been with us since 1996 thanks to some former employees of the Apple Corporation, and until Dreamweaver came on the scene it was pretty much the software of choice for those who wanted to set up their own Website. Responding now to the opposition and under the new management of Web.com (formerly Website Pros, Inc.), version 11 has bounced onto the shelves with a host of new and improved features.
The aim is to make Web design attractive to both amateurs and experienced practictioners, so there are detailed wizards for newcomers and greater customisation and interactivity possibilities for hardcore techies. For those coming to NetObjects Fusion for the first time, you’ll realise immediately that this is HTML generating software rather than an HTML editing tool; everything is designed to make it easier for you to add to your pages from any source with ease and instantly create the necessary code.
Whether you’re starting from scratch with a blank page or using the supplied templates, the moment you enter the workspace area you are offered a number of helpful perspectives. In Site view you can organise your structure following a family tree overview before moving to Page view for the hands-on desktop publishing task of adding text, images, tables, etc. Further tabs will then suggest various pre-installed Styles to explore (or you can customise them), plus the chance to manage image and media file Assets, and you can preview your page in Publish.
Once you’re under way you can start to explore a number of significant new features. The code generating engine now fully supports Semantic XHTML so you have more control over the use of CSS and your site will be more search engine friendly. There’s also a much friendlier, drag ‘n’ drop XML Data Integration facility, accessing data from remote or local sources (such as the ever popular RSS feeds).
Bundled in with the software is a healthy collection of AJAX Widgets (so you can include customisable page elements, such as accordions, tabbed panels and toggle panes) and sophisticated animation can be created using the new Timeline Editor, thus saving on the cost of extra software. In addition, all commercially relevant databases, Web servers and server-and-client-side technologies are supported. If that wasn’t enough, there’s an extra bundle of components thrown in such as Flash Photo Galleries, Flash Calendars, Flash Web Charts, Password Protection, Guestbook, Google Analytics and SiteMaps.
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