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NetObjects Fusion 3.0 is a Web site creation and management tool. 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. And you don't have to know HTML code. You place your text and graphics on a page, and all the necessary elements are converted to the proper code. Creating pages and entire sites is easy, fast, and it enables designers to maintain consistent visual style and to tightly control site architecture. It allows users to create Web pages from scratch but also includes professional quality templates. The first version was created in 1996, and with each new edition, the program has gotten better and better. Price: $295. The NetObjects, Inc. Web site is:
I would recommend the program for Intermediate to Advanced PC users who have a solid foundation in computers. For Web design though, it would be appropriate for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced 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 Version 3,0, should be appealing to Intermediate and Advances users as they now have access to HTML buttons that allow them to enter HTML code.
  • SiteStructure Editor--Map out your site structure and easily update it in minutes. Apply MasterBorders, status, page extensions, and color-coding to sections of a site;
  • ImportSite--Import your current site into NetObjects Fusion and all your assets are imported too;
  • Automated Navigation and Linking--Automatically creates and updates navigational elements and page links;
  • Three-way Layout Editor--Create effective pages using any combination of three new modes for maximum layout control and flexibility;
  • DHTML Actions--Easily create dynamic HTML-based animation and interactive effects;
  • Everywhere HTML--Build once, publish anywhere, across version 2.x, 3.x, or 4.x browsers;
  • Directory Structure Control--Choose from three commonly used directory structures: flat, by file type, or by site section, or customize for full control;
  • Multiple Servers--Supports publishing to multiple Web server locations with build-in FTP;
  • HTML Coding and Scripting--Add custom scripts or tags go any MasterBorder, frame, layout, or object;
  • Assets Manager--Globally manage and verify all of your site's links, files, and assets, including external HTML code, from one central location;
  • Database Publishing--Link to external ISAM- or ODBC- compatible databases, with automatic creation of data pages and links.
  • SiteSytles Editor--Choose from more than 50 new styles, including buttons, or create your own;
  • MasterBorders--Using margins on your Web page, place elements that repeat--such as navigational controls or logos once--and they'll appear throughout your site;
  • AutoFrames--Turn any MasterBorder into a frame with a click of a mouse;
  • Enhanced User Interface--Create the optimal workspace with context-sensitive palettes and dock-and-drag toolbars;
  • Support for the Latest Web Technologies--Supports Shockwave Director, Shockwave Flash, QuickTime, Java, Live Picture FlashPix, audio, video, ActiveX, and Headspace Beatnik.
  • NetObjects Fusion Components--Include Java- and JavaScript-based components such as SiteMapper, Forms Handler, and Picture Rollover.

Installation & Manuals. It was very easy to install. There are two good sized manuals: (1) Getting Started. This guide contains lessons with step-by-step instructions for creating a Web site for Richter Brewing Company. I have used these tutorial pages in this review; and (2) User Guide. This is a well-organized and thorough guide to the program.

Interface. 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. The interface is less cluttered than earlier versions. There is more space for the page layout. Also, toolbars and palettes can be collapsed or docked out of the way, making the layout space even cleaner.

Views. NetObjects Fusion provides five views or modes to create and manage all the information for a site.

Site View--In Site View, you plan and create the site's overall architecture. You see your site's pages as a series of connected icon. This makes it easy to view and rearrange the parent-child structure of your site. Moving a page is simple. You simply drag and drop it to a new location. This is a great time-saver for growing Web sites. Navigation tools, links between pages, banner titles, and other page-specific elements are automatically updated when you create or move a page. New with this version 3.0 is the ability to select some of the pages in the Site View and apply functions to them as a group.

Page View--In Page View, you lay out individual pages and add content. You create pages using the 3-Way Layout Editor in the mode of your choice:

  1. Graphical Mode. The page in this mode is divided into two primary areas--the layout, or main body, and the MasterBorders, or margins.You can place elements anywhere on the page with pixel-level control, where they will appear exactly when published. You simply select the appropriate tool from the Tools palettes, draw a marquee, and NetObjects Fusion will place the element on the page. These Tool palettes are used to add text, graphics, forms, and tables, as well as shapes, multimedia content, and third-party add-ins (including Java applets, Shockwave files, and ActiveX files). You can keep notes on pages and mark them as in-progress or complete so that you can quickly see what's finished. With Dynamic Actions, you can apply complex animations and interactivity to objects by selecting options from a menu box. NetObject Fusion Components can also be added. They are small JavaScript programs that add specialized functions to your Web pages. The program ships with nine Components, including a message board and a site map. Others are available from third-party developers.

  2. Textual Mode. This mode is for pages that are primarily text. It writes leaner code than the graphical page view; thus its pages load faster.

  3. External HTML Mode. Designers in this mode have more control over HTML. It is used to incorporate existing HTML pages--or portions of pages--without modifying the original HTML code.

Style View--In Style View, you create and manipulate the site's text, banners, and buttons. NetObjects Fusion 3.0 ships with more than 50 new SiteStyles--there's a total of 150 professionally designed styles in the Extras folder, located on the version 3.0 CD-ROM. Moving from style to style is easy with just a few mouse clicks, altering the entire look and feel of a site. Novices will like it. But it is also a powerful tool for experienced Web designers, especially when combining styles and the MasterBorders feature, which automatically repeats elements across multiple pages. Using both styles and MasterBorders, a user can add new pages in a matter of seconds and have each new page share design elements with all the other pages. You can also choose any font on your system for navigation buttons and it's automatically applied to navigation and converted to graphics.

Assets View--This view will let you update or reassign a resource, such as an external file, link, or data object, and have that change automatically be reflected on every page that uses the resource.

Publish View--In this view, you can generate HTML code and upload your site to the Web server. This view is new to version 3. It lets you choose a directory structure for the site's files. You can organize the structure by asset type (useful if you are using a large number of graphics or database files), by site section (useful if your site has a logical structure), or in a flat mode (useful for servers that require all files to be in a single directory). NetObjects Fusion 3.0 introduces Everywhere HTML to aid in publishing. It provides three HTML output options: Nested Tables, Regular Tables, and CSS and Layers. You can generate pages so that every piece of code will look the same in every version of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. It reduces browser incompatibilities that may occur when you apply emerging-and diverging-technologies like DHTML and Cascading Style Sheets. Any site or portion of a site can be optimized for either Netscape 2.0-4.0 or Microsoft Internet Explore 2.0-4.0 (say, for a company interment that has standardized on a single browser). The feature can also generate code using DHTML objects that look good on both 4.0 browsers, yet appear as static elements with older user agents.

Other Goodies--NetObjects Fusion 3.0 comes with a separate HTML editor software; calling card-like tech-support card that offers three free calls to the company; and a demo version of Bazaar Analyzer, a traffic analysis tool that lets you track how people use your site and how they move once they are on your site.

NetObjects Fusion 3.0 is an excellent program. It is a well-balanced program for users who want easy to use drag-and-drop or menu-driven functions or other more adventurous users who want a wide range of programming-like options. It can be learned quickly. But it has enough powerful functionality and time-saving features to meet the production needs of the busiest Web designer.

NetObjects Fusion excels in page design. Fusion's interface has the quality of a professional desktop publishing tool. The templates are great and it is evident that care and precision were used with the development of the templates.
Processor: 90MHz Pentium or higher
Operating System: Windows 95/Windows NT 3.51
Memory: 32 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 20MB for compact/100MB for full
60MB hard disk space for 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
CD-ROM drive
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

Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page