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Muse can help you build your own website without writing code

I am no coder, and never will be one. I am also not a very good web designer, though I strive to be one. I survive, like many people building their own sites, by using the expertise and contributions of others. For example, the open source community has given us such brilliant platform software as WordPress, Tumblr and Drupal.

Now I'm trying the beta release of Muse, new software which Adobe promises will allow you to “design HTML websites without writing code”. I think this will be the company's latest hit with site designers and developers. Adobe has released the beta for free, allowing you to test it for the next year, so what do you have to lose? Not a lot of time building sites, I hope.

Muse features sitemaps, master pages and site-wide tools. The online tutorials show it working fast to plan and create a working website. But that's just the videos. I do like the ability to drag and drop navigation menus, add slideshows, and embed features from Google Maps, YouTube and Facebook.

Muse targets the graphic designer, who doesn't want to depend on the webmaster or developer for every change of design. Adobe's other web product, Dreamweaver, is for the coders. I know, I know you coders and designers: the divide is not that clear.

Lots of people are praising Muse, but they are also highly critical of Adobe's different tack on retailing the software. The first version, due for release in early 2012, will be available by subscription at $15 per month with a one-year commitment, or for $20 per month if you only want to use it temporarily.

The subscription model entitles you to all updates (which you would normally get for free with most software), and to newer versions in the future. Adobe defends itself by saying it will allow the company to post major changes faster, rather than waiting to sell it as a major upgrade every two or three years.

This is kind of a circular argument. Why not upgrade regularly for the benefit of your customers, in the first place? I have always argued that in actual fact the traditional upgrade model of software retailing is actually a hidden subscription model and a disservice to customers. However, I cannot see an alternative other than an actual subscription model such as the one Adobe proposes. To me, a monthly subscription model provides more choice (I can stop paying) compared to being stuck paying for a $900 piece of software that I use occasionally and that goes out of date in two years.

If the subscription model works, other software makers could follow. Judging from the comments at the Muse site, a lot of people are against it. But the rise of cloud computing might force that model on them anyway. Download Muse

here, where you can also access a few tutorials.

Those going back to school could also benefit from a rental model for all those expensive textbooks. A digital textbook makes sense, since you can easily highlight, bookmark and save chunks of text. Amazon's model seems fair, and works great if you also own a Kindle.

Users can rent a textbook for the minimum length, typically 30 days, and save up to 80 percent off the print list price, the company claims. If you find you need your textbook longer, the rental can be extended in increments of less than a day.

Even after the rental period runs out, you can still access your saved notes and highlights. Amazon also offers the service for regular computers, the iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Windows Phone 7, and the Blackberry.

***

I am not about to repeat the many achievements of Steve Jobs now that he has left his role as Apple's CEO, probably for the last time. However, I want to point you to three inspiring speeches he made as compiled by PC Magazine: at Macworld Boston, 1997; the 2005 Stanford commencement address; and his Apple iPad 2 keynote address on March 2011.

All are available at YouTube or some similar video site. Perhaps the 2005 address will aspire all those heading off to school: “You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers … Keep looking. Don't settle...Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

I certainly wish I had followed that thought more often in what I did when I was younger. I certainly am trying to follow it more often now.

Send any comments to elamin.ahmed@gmail.com

Muse: Do-it-yourself website design aid

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Published August 31, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated August 31, 2011 at 10:49 am)

Muse can help you build your own website without writing code

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