NetObjects Fusion 4.0
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NetObjects Fusion 4.0 is a Web site-building tool that helps you design and build full-featured, professional Web sites. You can use the program to create and maintain an entire site whether or not you know HTML. The program has the look and feel of a desktop publishing program, but it combines true site management with true WYSIWYG page layout, program-like control. The interface has a grid pasteboard, rulers, guides, and draggable margins. The program allows users to create Web pages from scratch, but it also includes professional quality sample sites. These are complete sites with real content, designed to showcase features like data objects, object embedding, table layouts, forms, referenced HTML, and DHTML Actions. The first version of NetObjects Fusion was created in 1996, and with Version 4.0, it has evolved into a top-notch authoring and site management tool suitable for a broad range of developers. We reviewed Version 3.0 and found it an excellent program (see our NetObjects Version 3.0 review). This latest Windows version adds features and functionality that include e-business support, a Java-based application programming interface (API) that lets developers easily add functions with plug-ins, and site styles that have rollovers included. Price: $299.95; Upgrade: $99.95. The NetObjects Web site has a wealth of information about their products and those of their partners, links to NetObjects electronic support options, lists of training centers and books about NetObjects Fusion, and many additional resources: http://www.netobjects.com
|It would be appropriate for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Web designers. The program really simplifies the process for novice users. The templates, WYSIWYG page look, and the drag-and-drop capabilities would make it suitable for someone just starting out with their first Web page and would allow them to create professional looking pages and an entire site without any HTML experience. The robust features would appeal to Intermediate and Advanced Web developers, as they can develop Web sites with the freedom to expand Internet-commerce applications as the company's needs change.|
Installation & Manuals. The program was very easy to install. There is a printed tutorial guide that contains lessons with step-by-step instructions on using NetObjects Fusion. Also, on the CD is a User Guide in PDF format which describes the complete set of the program's features. Acrobat Reader is also provided for those who do not already have the program.
Interface. When you start the program, you see the same familiar interface as in Version 3.0. Along the top is a menu bar with the typical Windows commands: File, Edit, View, Go, and Help. Below is a blue bar with five primary views or modes, on the left: Site, Page, Style, Assets, and Publish. On the right of the blue bar are other options: Preview, New, Go To, and Last. A standard toolbar is docked to the left. In the middle of the screen is the work area where you design your pages. There is a Properties Palette that changes to give you information on the object you select. Also, toolbars and palettes can be collapsed or docked out of the way, making the layout space even cleaner.
Component Enhancements and NetObjects API (Application Programmers Interface). Improvements to NetObjects Fusion internal code lets third party developers develop more powerful NetObjects Fusion components. These components use a NetObjects API (Application Programmers Interface) to take advantage of expanded functionality available to developers, such as setting publishing options and creating sites with dynamic content. The new API also lets developers easily integrate their components into NetObjects Fusion. Some of these components are included on the NetObjects Fusion 4.0 installation CD; you install them when you install NetObjects Fusion. In Page view, you access them by opening their tool bars by selecting Toolbars, Component Tools from the View menu; in Site view, by selecting Launch Site Wizard from the File menu; and in Publish view, by clicking Setup and then clicking the Components tab.
Views. NetObjects Fusion provides five views that correspond to the tasks you complete when you design and build a site. Changes you make in one view are reflected to the others. You can go to any view at any time by clicking a button on the control bar at the top of the NetObjects Fusion window. In the next sections, I will briefly describe each view and its new features or functions:
Site View. The Site view is where you are the architect and set up the structure of your site. This view, similar to an organizational chart, shows an iconic version of your site. Page relationships and site organization are easy to understand and the site structure can be altered visually. You have the choice of viewing your site in an outline format or structure/graphical format. You can quickly rearrange your site by dragging and dropping pages and sections.
Page View. The Page view is where you control the layout of each page. In this view you see the Layout area and MasterBorder of each page. The Layout area displays objects that are unique to that page. The MasterBorder contains objects that repeat on a set of pages, much as headers and footers appear in a word processing document. The program has four modes for laying out pages: graphical mode for pages with highly graphical content or that need WYSIWYG layout; table mode for slightly less complex pages; text mode for pages that are highly textural or require ultra-lean HTML code; and HTML editor mode when the preservation and total editing control of external HTML is needed.
Style View. In the Style view, you can give a specific look and feel to your Web site or just to sections of a site. You can create your own SiteStyle, or choose from pre-built SiteStyles to give your entire site a consistent look and feel.
Assets View. The Assets view is used as a pasteboard and basket to organize and manage all the assets on your Web site. Assets include the files, links, data objects, and variables that you reference in your site. You can change an asset in the Assets view and have that change propagate through all the Web pages in your site. (There were no significant improvements in this view.)
Publish View. Finally, the Publish view is where you control the file structure of your assets and HTML files, as well as FTP your site to a Web server of your choice. The Publish view allows you to see all of the individual files that make up your Web site. You can control what gets published and how. Moving the Web site from your staging server to your World Wide Web server is a simple matter of clicking the Publish button.
Other Goodies--NetObjects Fusion 4.0 includes: Allaire ColdFusion 4.0 Professional Edition Trial; Allaire ColdFusion Server 4.0, Single User Edition; Allaire HomeSite 4.0; Headspace Beatnik ActionSet 1.0; Live Picture PhotoVista 1.3.1 Trial; Lotus eSuite DevPack 1.5; NetObjects ScriptBuilder 3.0 Trial; and NetStudio 1.0.1.
|Processor: 90MHz Pentium or higher
Operating System: Windows 95/98 or Windows NT 4.0
Memory: 32 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: Before installation 50 MB of available hard disk space (100 MB for full installation); after installation 60 MB of available hard disk space as virtual memory
32-bit ODBC drivers for external database connectivity
TCP/IP compliance for Internet connectivity
Graphics display capable of 800 x 600 at 256 colors
Mouse or compatible pointing device
You will also need a Web browser installed on your system. NetObjects Fusion HTML output requires: Netscape Navigator 2.01 or higher; Microsoft Internet Explorer 2.1 or higher/ other HTML 3.0 or higher compatible browsers
Graphics: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe ImageStyler
Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series
Web Page Editor: Macromedia Dreamweaver 2.0