Website Building with NetObjects Fusion: A Software Review
(By Eric Gondwe)
This article is a review I submitted at Amazon.com on a newly released web admin software: Version 11 of NetObjects Fusion
I’ve been using NetObjects Fusion since version 7.5, the 2003 version. Every version has had worthy improvements, including this version 11.
For every kind of user (pro or beginner, career or personal end user, etc) Netobjects has its good and bad sides. Better start with the bad news, to save the best for last.
THE BAD NEWS ABOUT NETOBJECTS FUSION 11
Each version, perhaps due to increased tools, comes with a steeper learning curve for anyone using the software for the first time. Version 11 is no exception.
Thus if you’re using Netobjects for the first time you may be disappointed by its initiation ceremony. Needless to say that ALL of its major rivals have their own learning curves. Microsoft’s HTML editors may be easier since it looks more like the other MS Office software. Dreamweaver too may be easier for many since it’s used as the standard HTML editor program in schools.
What helped me pass Netobjects’ initiation process is their user manual. It was a smaller printable booklet with version 7.5. Version 11 has an 1194 page PDF book. It’s an encyclopedia!! What better way to be frightened off. However PDF files have a search feature that can help you look for and find what you need, just like you search the internet for what you need. It’s not a book to read cover to cover. The software also has a help tool in the “Help” menu.
Forget about contacting their support for help. It’s like contacting Microsoft to ask how MS Word works. You’ll be one in a trillion people to receive a response that’s of any value. Their user manuals are better sources. Or better still sign up for a course that can be faster than learning on your own. Some learn better in schools while others learn better on the “streets.” One of our biggest examples is Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard University. A dropout with a supper street-smart brain now has an IT empire.
For those on the streets the internet has plenty of useful resources to equip you in mastering Netobjects. Youtube.com has a few helpful videos –some are in the German language where it’s most popular (it’s their baby –maybe that’s why it has an awful English name).
Another approach that helped was starting to create sites using its “Site Wizard.” After creating one I’d then work through it in editing the pages. It was like starting webmastering all over. But it paid off since it makes you learn how the software works while also enabling you to at least create something.
Another issue to shun is using their templates as if they’re for your final output “product.” Their templates are only guidelines –unless you’ve modest webmaster skills. In fact templates can be very useful for webmaster beginners. If you’re an advanced user who gets to use a preferred template and then edits it to suite a desired design you won’t be disappointed. I’m more a content developer, SEO and HTML person more than a web designer. So anyone can find their templates useful, even people like me who have deficient designing skills. I believe design skills are God given. But you can bypass them by perfecting what God gave you.
After learning from their templates I now have my own templates to use on different sites. You’d know sites I’ve created by seeing many features that look alike. Since my design skills are quite scant any good design you see is creditable to colleagues, not me.
THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT NETOBJECTS FUSION 11
Version 11 is a state of the art WYSIWYG HTML editor, integrating the latest webmaster tools for the ever changing internet environment. It beats its rivals in many areas, particularly in usability, price, great META tag code generator for SEO, exceptional CSS and XHTML publishing. All these features are almost indispensable to a serious webmaster. Netobjects does them well and saves you from the extra sweat you’d go through in creating websites.
The rivals of Netobjects I’ve worked with include the well known HTML editors by webmasters: Maromedia Dreamweaver (now Adobe Dreamweaver (2008)) and Microsoft FrontPage (now Microsoft Expression Web and Sharepoint Designer (2008)). You’d likely agree with me if you’re willing enough to go through the learning curve puzzle. Practice makes perfect. Then you’ll be able to objectively criticize the software for what it has or doesn’t have.
I also used Dreamweaver during IT classes and easily abandoned it after discovering Netobjects. It’s harder to switch from what you’re used to so trust me the switch meant I’d found something way better. And the upgrade costs from each newer version are far less for Netobjects than for Dreamweaver, leave alone Micro$oft’$ program$.
I may not have said all on the good and bad news. There is a good article on Netobjects at Wikipedia. I found it helpful. Or you can download from their website their free earlier version to experiment with. Must say it’s a Stone Age version compared to version 11. But at least you’ll get the feel of its fundamental GUI and usability.
Author: Eric Gondwe