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Technology review

By WILLIAM LAMPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 4, 2001


NetObjects Fusion MX

SYSTEM: Windows

MAKER: NetObjects

PRICE: $99.95

NetObjects Fusion MX certainly makes it simple to get a Web site put together and up on the Internet, but it isn't as quick as advertised. It took me several hours to put together a 16-page Web site from text and images that I previously had used.

Fusion greets you with a welcoming Web browser-like screen where you click on links to create a new site, open an existing site, download components to add complex functions to your Web pages or check on software upgrades. Unlike Adobe GoLive, another Web authoring package, Fusion doesn't clutter your screen with numerous tool bars and clusters of floating palettes.

Fusion is ideally suited for the HTML novice. A Site Wizard will help you set up your Web site and choose from among the 200 Web site styles that come with Fusion. And most of your work can be done in two windows: the sites mode, which shows a map of your site and lets you create and name pages; and the page mode, where a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor lets you design your page by clicking and dragging elements. The properties palette lets you enter links to graphics, photos and other pages and specify borders, table columns, rows and widths. A second palette gives you access to components that let you add features such as dynamic buttons and rotating images.

For those used to coding HTML by hand with a program such as BBEdit on the Macintosh, Fusion can be frustrating. You can easily view the HTML coding created by Fusion, but changing it often requires multiple clicks before you get to a window that lets you add to, but not necessarily modify, the coding. And you've got your work cut out if you want to quickly set up a Web site without using one of Fusion's preloaded styles. Plus, if you want to keep the amount of HTML coding to a minimum, you're out of luck with Fusion, just as you are with the other Web authoring programs. (Minimum coding means a smaller document size, which means the page downloads faster from the Web.)

Though there's an option to target your pages for Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator browsers, elements on some of the Web pages don't display properly in Netscape.

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