FEATURE

Amusing technology for pre-press, printers and workflow integration

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By Laurel Brunner
1 September 2011

Adobe reckons that its Muse technology will change the way users create websites. What do you think?

Adobe has recently launched a public beta of its intriguing Muse technology. Not for the first time, the company is offering a tool that should make it as simple and intuitive to create an HTML website as it is to lay out a page in InDesign. For sign- and display-makers who want to extend their workflows to the web, this new software is worth a closer look, and even participating in its beta testing.

If it does what it says on the tin, Muse will help the sign and display community to improve its use of the web. Apart from the obvious extension the web offers to workflows, an easy-to-use tool simplifies the routine housekeeping and keeping the site looking lively. Many companies still rely on third-party assistance to keep their websites up to date, which tends to keep the website at arm's length. A tool such as Muse could be useful for companies who want to take a more dynamic approach to managing their websites, but don't want the hassle of learning to program them.

Muse lets you do away with code or relying on templates. Templates work well enough, as long as you are happy to operate within their confines. But by their very nature templates constrain content presentation. Instead Muse takes advantage of two key web technologies: HTML5 (Hypertext Markup Language), designed to make life easier for users and to improve a website's handling of audio and video content, and CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets), which manages layout and styles for web pages. To this HTML5/CSS3 base Adobe is adding tools to simplify site interaction and navigation.

The latest versions of HTML and of CSS ought to make it easier to integrate the web into a print media supply chain, even without Adobe's help. But what ought to happen and what does happen are not always the same thing, hence Muse. Adobe's Muse is probably the first of many tools that leverage the HTML5/CSS3 base, but it is unlikely to be the last, so sign and display producers who want to keep current with evolving web technologies should encourage their designers to take advantage of Adobe's public beta testing for Muse.

Even if this sort of thing might be a little off the map for wide-format printers and their designers, it is a great opportunity to get to grips with the latest generation of web technologies. Adobe is even offering to host trial sites so that users can get their clients' feedback. An English-only beta version of Muse is available for free, and Adobe has helpfully provided some sample websites created with Muse, along with tutorials. 

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