Netobjects Fusion 11

Fusion 11 aims to fit snugly between the lofty space held by Adobe’s pricey but impressive Dreamweaver and a slew of lower-end budget applications.

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Netobjects Fusion 11
  • Netobjects Fusion 11
  • Netobjects Fusion 11
  • Netobjects Fusion 11

Pros

  • Lots of functionality under the hood, some decent built-in components, possible to get reasonable results — if you’re patient

Cons

  • Utterly useless import function, awkward and occasionally non-intuitive interface, lacks direction, spits out nasty code

Bottom Line

Layout designers are unlikely to be impressed by the overtly template-driven approach and office-application-style interface. And professionals are still better catered for by Dreamweaver or Expression Web, both of which offer superior workflow, scope and output, although at a higher cost.

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Billing itself as ‘the complete all-in-one Web site design tool’, NetObjects Fusion 11 aims to fit snugly between the lofty space held by Adobe’s pricey but impressive Dreamweaver and a slew of lower-end budget applications, such as Serif’s WebPlus 10.

Although primarily a template-driven drag-and-drop affair, the latest version of NetObjects Fusion claims to support semantic code, along with offering integration of XML data, built-in AJAX components and a bunch of functionality-enhancing elements.

In use, NetObjects Fusion bizarrely manages to be at once highly annoying and relatively flexible. Various interface components (both in terms of the application itself and the pages being designed) can easily be shifted about, but NetObjects has its own way of doing things, and we had to regularly scurry to the manual to avoid putting a foot through our PC’s monitor in frustration.

In the end, although we enjoyed tinkering about with the application itself (the palettes and other components can be pinned and rearranged to your heart’s content), creating a site was distinctly less fun. Things started well enough, planning the site in the application’s robust and useful hierarchical layout tool, but we were less delighted with the layout capabilities of NetObjects Fusion, which are more akin to an office application than a tool for layout designers.

Also, as NetObjects Fusion is primarily a publishing application, coding elements are relegated to the background, with HTML views largely being a case of ‘look, but don’t touch’.

The jury’s out on the built-in time-saving components. We put together a decent Flash gallery in minutes, but it was worse than those created by lower-end applications, and although the AJAX widgets (accordions, tabbed panels and so on) did their jobs satisfactorily, they were fiddly.

Perhaps the most damning aspect of NetObjects Fusion 11 is that despite its claims to generate semantic, standards-based code, most of what we got was littered with problems, and even the cleanest code we managed to produce had dozens of unnecessary inline styles and a severe case of ‘divitis’. We were also disappointed to discover that NetObjects Fusion didn’t seem capable of importing previous (and simple) standards-compliant Web sites we’d created — sites that neither Dreamweaver nor Expression Web had the slightest difficulty dealing with.

But our main problem with NetObjects Fusion 11 was hinted at right at the start of this review: it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Beginners and home users won’t make use of most of the features and NetObjects Fusion’s price-tag means they’re better off checking out a cheaper rival, such as WebPlus 10.

Layout designers are unlikely to be impressed by the overtly template-driven approach and office-application-style interface. And professionals are still better catered for by Dreamweaver or Expression Web, both of which offer superior workflow, scope and output, although at a higher cost.

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