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December 1996 Reviews This Month

12/96 Reviews SW: NetObjects Fusion 1.0

Build Dynamite Web Sites with Fusion

By James E. Powell

NetObjects Fusion isn't just another Web page designer. It's the best tool I've seen yet for building Web pages and managing Web sites. It provides incredibly powerful but simple-to-learn features, from the flowchart-like visual layout tool to the SiteStyles feature that adds pizzazz to your pages.

Fusion's SiteStructure Editor lets you build pages (and relationships) using either a hierarchical or visual editor. You can insert premade, predefined sites or single page templates, then restructure your site by dragging and dropping pages in the editor, which maintains the hierarchies. Fusion encourages experimentation: Prototyped pages needn't appear in the final site.

Pages are laid out with the PageDraw tool. Fusion automatically generates a header (for a banner and navigation buttons) and footer (for text hyperlinks), as well as a main body where you can precisely place shapes, tables, audio and video files, data lists, fields and form elements. Though you can't edit the HTML directly (the pages are generated using standard, but highly complex, HTML tables), you can add Java applets, ActiveX controls and Shockwave plug-ins. There is also support for creating image maps.

The SiteAssets view lets you centrally manage your Web site resources. Change a bitmap here, and the program perpetuates the change throughout your site.

Fusion's SiteStyle Manager offers various looks for banners, buttons, backgrounds, data list icons and link text colors. Unlike the dry-looking objects you generally find in clip-art libraries, these styles are jazzy attention-grabbers. Styles offer consistency, but they're used in a unique way.

When Fusion generates your site, it merges the selected style and the appropriate text to generate all the bitmaps needed on every page. For example, if your page is called Human Resources, Fusion creates a custom banner in your selected style with the words Human Resources centered within the bitmap. Buttons that direct you to other pages are a combination of smaller buttons in the same style and each page's name. Change the name, and Fusion generates new buttons.

You can also generate text-only versions of your site or "low-bandwidth" editions that reduce GIFs to four colors and JPEG images by 50 percent. Site generation is very fast, given everything that Fusion does. I generated a mythical 25-page WINDOWS Magazine Subscriber Site in less than three minutes.

Fusion is unlike any other Web tool you've seen. Easy-to-build knockout pages can be yours. Despite its resource requirements, you'll love harnessing the power of Fusion.

-- Info File --
NetObjects Fusion 1.0
Pros: Outstanding, unique tools
Cons: Resource requirements
Platforms: Win95, NT
888-449-6400, 415-482-3200
WinMag Box Score 5.0

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