Normally I am distrusting of applications that will “generate a website” for you from graphics, however, with just a brief bit of playing around with Muse from Adobe, I am intrigued.
Long time ago, (REALLY LONG) I had tried out a program that would allowed visual layout and creation of web pages. It was cutting edge, and it sucked. Well, the app was great, but the code was a giant turd. Mind you, this was before CSS even, or at least right as CSS1 was getting its feet wet.
Then came Dreamweaver. Which personally I think is a crutch of the incapable, though you still need to know at least some HTML to use effectively. The downside is that for a designer, an actual honest-to-god Graphic Designer, to use it, they must change mental contexts to Web Designer. This has been problematic for many designers, who spend a lot of time working in print, with applications like InDesign. As a coder and technology architect (and now CTO), I can relate completely when I get a phone call to work a problem in technology, even though I just spent the last 2 hours coding.
Muse seems to be jumping that canyon. The code it produces is not terrible, and actually quite decent for typical websites. Is it suitable for generating a shopping cart site? I doubt it, at least right now. However, I could see it making it there. Will it ever be as efficient as programmers like me, who have to worry about front-end and back-end, and need to be concerned with bandwidth, sizes, efficiency, and money? NO. (at least I hope not. lol)
The goal of Muse is simple. Allow a Graphic Designer to get back to focusing on DESIGN, and no longer have to worry about rules, or pushback from a developer, or at the very least, no longer have to know HTML in order to 80% of the websites they design. My wife for example, is an extremely talented graphic designer but she never bothered to learn HTML. Why? Because she had me. As a result, she designs some kick-ass corporate stuff, both in print and in web, because she doesn’t need to worry about it. I am her “muse”, for now. I really don’t want to be anymore for most of the projects we work on, and instead focus on the more complicated stuff. A brochure-ware site is misuse of my time.
In theory, Muse will now allow designers to work like they work in InDesign but with a handful of extra capabilities, and produce websites without knowing a lick of HTML or CSS. If that comes to fruition for 90% of the websites we do, that would be freaking awesome.
Currently it’s in open beta. You can download it for free and use it until they release it in early 2012. It’s at least worth checking out and tinkering with IMO.