Adobe has launched its latest web tool intended to democratize establishing an online presence, Muse, which claims to allow complex HTML sites - with HTML5 and CSS support - to be created as easily as if being laid out for print. Currently in beta, Muse borrows UI and layout concepts from Adobe InDesign, with drag-and-drop menus, slideshows and other widgets that require no coding skills to implement.
Instead, it's a case of making the page look great, and relying on Adobe's web-elves in the background to do the clever stuff. Sitemaps are organized with straightforward flowcharts, common design elements set up using a straightforward "Master Page" system, and site-wide basics like size and colors can be handled with little fuss. Elements that can frustrate beginners - like creating floating toolbars or pinning certain items so that they always display in the same place - are made far easier to use.
The end results aren't just static, basic pages, but can be heavily multimedia-centric with embedded Google Maps and YouTube content, hover-over animations and effects, and overlays and Photoshop layers. When you're done, Adobe will host the site for you, or it can be exported to another host of your choice.
Adobe Muse is available in beta today as a free download from muse.adobe.com. The company says it will remain free until the v1.0 release expected in early 2012, after which point it will be available on a subscription basis at either $20 per month (with no minimum commitment) or $180 for a year. Sites won't expire if you stop your subscription, however. It will also work with Adobe's Edge HTML5 app, released earlier this month.