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-- by James E. Powell
When it was placed on our Recommended List last December, I knew NetObjects Fusion 1.0 would revolutionize Web-site creation. But version 2.0 takes this remarkable app to new heights.
Version 2.0 fills gaps in the first version that left developers doing tedious tasks by hand. Importing existing Web sites into Fusion is now easier, for example. Version 2.0 promises to let you bring in any number of pages or levels of an existing site. My beta version had a couple of bugs in this area; it overlapped two frames that it had created to contain two lists on my source page, and it lost some custom image parameters. Even so, Fusion's import tool vastly simplified the task of converting existing sites.
I also liked the MasterBorders feature, which surrounds all your Web pages with a consistent border, then puts template objects, such as your logo, inside. Defining MasterBorders was a straightforward way of giving my site a consistent look on all pages. Best of all, I could translate the rectangular sides of a MasterBorder into frames with a few mouse clicks. This is without question the easiest way I've seen to add frames to a site.
Version 2.0's Components are prebuilt applets that let you add sophisticated functionality to a page merely by dragging and dropping. They are impressive in this beta, offering a pop-up hierarchical or graphic site map, a rotating billboard (a series of GIF images that, when clicked, takes a visitor to another page) and a ticker tape (a series of scrolling messages that, when clicked, takes a visitor to another page, based on the current message)
Version 2.0 shines for Web maintenance, too. It can globally delete unused elements, such as orphaned graphics files that aren't used anywhere, and it now supports incremental updates so that you only need to publish those elements that have changed since you last posted.
The new Fusion will offer more than 25 new styles; about half the designs in the beta were suitable for business sites, the rest were best for personal pages.
My only complaint was that the documentation hadn't evolved to keep up with the new features. But that's a minor complaint; NetObjects Fusion 2.0 replaces version 1.0 on our Recommended List.