Mink Machine

Musings about Adobe Muse

Do you remember a thing called Dreamweaver? A decade ago it was a popular tool for building web sites, or rather creating something that remotely resembled web sites since the produced markup was worse than a pile of garbage.

It was later acquired by Adobe who continued the development of this foul creature for unknown reasons. Now Adobe are back again with a software for creating web pages without any coding involved. Come on Adobe, we have been down this road before…

Adobe Muse is based on Adobe Air and will allow monkeys to drag and drop components on a layout pane similar to Indesign. At a first glance it seems to be all about fixed dimensions. Fixed, when most of the modern web developers are talking about Responsive Web Design these days.

Second, the code is claimed to be standards-based. I had a look at some sites including Adobes own Muse-site. It was like using a time-machine going a decade back in time and looking at Dreamweaver-generated code. The horror.

Roughly five years ago many people were finally waking up from the nineties and replaced table based layouts with a lot of div elements, since it was thought to be more semantic. But unfortunately this good intention was just replacing the infamous “tag soup” with “div soup”. Today it’s 2011 and even though Adobes Muse-site is very simple, it contains 223 div elements. Some look like this one:

<div class=”PamphletCloseButton PamphletLightboxPart popup_element close-button” id=”n92″> <div class=”grpelem” id=”n93″> <p class=”list-item” id=”n95″>x</p> <div class=”wrap”></div> </div> <div class=”wrap”></div> </div> </div>

View the source for yourselves, it’s all there.

Don’t get me wrong. If a tool can help someone to create great things and make the web a better place, that’s awesome. But I think this one is a step in the wrong direction.

Muse? I am not amused.

4 comments

  • avatar
    27 Aug, 2011

    I fed the Muse-site to http://www.aharef.info/2006/05/websites_as_graphs.htm and it was not a pretty sight, IMHO.

  • avatar
    28 Aug, 2011

    Oh dear, that’s a lot of green divs there… :/

  • avatar
    31 Aug, 2011

    Thanks for sharing!

    I am thinking that the actual (generated) code maybe is not that important (even though it sure makes programmers sleep better at night).

    Do you see other bad side effects such as:
    – poor browser compatibility
    – longer load times
    – bad maintanability or extensibility

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    01 Sep, 2011

    I read a comment from an Adobe partner who had tried the beta and defended Muse by saying that the web should be for everyone, not just tech-savvy coders. I fully agree that the web should be for everyone, in fact that is my main point.

    The coders are a very small minority compared to the number of regular site visitors. The actual markup is a lot more than simple eye candy for developers, since its quality determines how good the site works for the actual visitors in terms of browser compatibility, loading time, search engine optimization and so on. It also affects users with disabilities since assistive technology such as screen readers don’t work well with poor markup.

    For example, the markup lack semantic structure which makes it a nightmare for accessibility and SEO. Internal naming schemes for ids and classes gives bad maintainability. It generates inline CSS which is not cachable by the browser. Unnecessary elements and classes are everywhere. Some of the links require JavaScript. And so on.

    I think the general outcry against Muse is not so much about vain coders who wants to look at their code like a Swarovski crystal, but rather what the quality (or lack thereof) means to the user experience when visiting the site.

    So far I’ve not yet seen a tool which generate acceptable markup on these terms, but when such a tool arrives I’m sure it could be a great asset to many developers.

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