Adobe Muse – sounds fine but works like a toy

Bildschirmfoto 2013-03-05 um 09.55.12For a completely new project I was wondering if it’s now possible – since we have 2013 and the web exists for nearly 20 years – to have a serious and useful HTML design tool. One that is really focussed on the design workflow rather than coding. So I’ve tried the current release of Adobe Muse. You have to know that it’s not offered as a free preview version. You have to get a single-app membership of the Creative Cloud, so it’s €18.43 a month (if you take the yearly subscription) or €30.73 a month (for the monthly subscription) – sorry, that’s really ripping-of! I’m thinking this because the software is more a toy than a tool. You can draw a circles and rectangles and add some predefined widgets, like a slideshow or an info box. Wow! Even a normal workflow like take a full Photosop or Illustrator File and import it and make it lively as HTML is impossible. Why couldn’t Adobe stick to their Flash Catalyst approach. There you could import those files with every single object, sheets, levels etc. and keep the vectors. I was really impressed. But they decided to let it die. But Muse is lame! Please Adobe use Catalyst as HTML generator!

Ok, to be fair. InDesign 1.0 wasn’t really useful, too. So there is hope. But not for now. I’m still searching a real visual HTML Designer.

19 Kommentare

  1. Clarifications:
    – Adobe Muse has a 30-day trial program like nearly all other Adobe applications. However, if you’ve already used a trial of Adobe Muse in the past (which is now expired), a subscription would be necessary to try Muse again. (We’ll probably reset all Muse trials at some point in the future to give everyone a chance to try a recent version, since unlike other Adobe applications that historically add new features every 12, 18 or 24 months, Muse releases new features every 3 months.)
    – Adobe Muse currently does not include a tool for drawing circles.
    – The widgets in the Widget Library are examples. They are quite customizable. See the customer created websites at or the Widget Gallery at for examples of how they can be customized and formatted.

    Just as you don’t typically design a print piece that’s going to ultimately end up in InDesign by first creating the full design of each page in Photoshop, the same is true for creating a website in Muse. I fully agree it represents a change in approach and is not the common start-from-a-sliced-up-PSD approach used in many web development shops, but once embraced it can be a far more efficient workflow.

    Zak Williamson
    Principal Scientist
    Adobe Muse

    • Mike Battistella
      | Permalink

      Hello Zak,

      thanks for the clarification. I haved tried a recent version of Muse by subscribing to a free trial-membership of the Adobe Cloud.
      What I really miss is a workflow compared to Adobe Catalyst where you can use not only Photoshop but also Illustrator Designs and make them interactive and realized in HTML. Not slicing designs but using the real objects from Photoshop or Illustrator to create HTML5.
      In InDesign I can design a page completely or use external assets (choosing from a great range of file formats).
      I know, Muse is developing. But currently it’s not really useful for (my) professional workflow.

  2. Dean
    | Permalink

    Hey man,

    I’m confused.

    Did you actually try Adobe Muse?

    You made some claims that make it sound like you’ve not tried the tool.

    I know a lot of coders hate it, but to be honest, a lot of coders are terrible designers, and vice versa. It’s given designers the ability to create great sites for their clients which at the end of the day is more important that perfect code…

    • Mike Battistella
      | Permalink

      Hey Dean,

      yes I’ve tried Muse. And I got frustrated, instantly. It’s not about the code – I’ve not viewed it. It is about functionality and usability which is bad if you are used to design without boundaries in your head. Muse feels like InDesign 1.0 – nothing to use for real productivity. But of course every product improves over time. So I’m keeping an eye on Muse to see where it heads.

      If you can prove any claim of mine wrong please do so – I’d be happy to have a great tool to create websites visually.

  3. Stephen Jones
    | Permalink

    No offense to “coders” but the Internet bubble bursting blasted a massive amount of people that knew just enough of coding to make “hello World” appear. As a result, they went on to other software venues. Few trust Visual languages, thinking they are “Toys” not worthy of their puzzle solving skills. It is a testament to how ghastly behind the planet is in Software technology. We started with binary codes, assembly and then a high-level language and some say object oriented languages and then screeeeech. We stopped and here we are, stuck in text land. Visual Languages are the next generation of programming, but coders are emotionally attached and fear change to Visual approaches like Muse. It is the same old tired excuses; “can’t optimize, not as well as text, standards” and so forth. Even if we consider that Visual Languages were not accepted (yet), this is still the same message. We are behind the curve stuck in text based language land. Where are all the open minded, nuanced, curious and open to experience minds? Go Adobe Muse! I love it. Why should a designer have to learn a new text based set of languages?

    • Dorian
      | Permalink


      Muse is a new visual gen tool that can develop and speed up web design.

  4. Stephen Jones
    | Permalink

    This article brings back a memory of a comment my PhD boss made at a well-known defense contractor in 1986 as we were designing a new system. I had chosen to use an embedded ruggedized rack mounted PC, made by IBM in an environment where only custom mainframe computers programed in FORTRAN were used. The PC did the job, cost almost nothing compared to the Cray machine, and was more than able to perform the task. However, even after proving it performed beyond our requirements, the idea of using a PC, even rack mounted and ruggedized, was just too much of a departure from his comfort zone. I was told to get that f*ing toy out of his system. Ten years later that company used ruggedized rack mounted PCs for all of their embedded processing. What may seem like a toy to some is innovative technology to others. I hope we can learn to embrace change and not be afraid of something new and useful. We have had text-based languages too long.

    • Ramon
      | Permalink

      @StephenJones exactly man.

      I just found Adobe Muse and i love it. My day job is a music Producer and im used to using and learning new software with complicated automation techniques etc but code is HARD!!! its not even pretty. We are in the age where I use my Ipad apps for things because its faster (and alot of times more FUN) than using a desktop. When you open a brand new proffesional program on mac or pc its often intimidating with all the buttons and options staring at you. ESPECIALLY if you dont know what your doing. But ive been using Photoshop and Illustrator for many things along the years and within the first 2 days of working and learning muse i built 7 dummy sites. Nothing INCREDIBLE that ive published but at least my ideas are out into the world. The other thing is this….I consider myself a professional in my field of work and in order for someone to hire me they need to pay me. My Rate. Which has been established from over years of hard work and dedication. So when i go to hire a web designer or photographer etc. and get quoted thousands of dollars…. i get it. They deserve to charge that much. But i don’t have that much money and for 50 bucks a month and a little research on youtube i can learn to do it myself. I thank adobe for trying something new and putting it out and working with the community to make it better over time. I know its not the tried and true way of doing things but i’m glad i live in this future where it enables me to not be held back by a budget or lack of knowing a complex language that changes as fast as you learn it. I can just create and see what happens…. but just to end this lil turd rant with one of my fav quotes…. „its not the tools, its the artist who yeilds them“.


  5. Arturo Sanz
    | Permalink

    This whole discussion reminds me to something I’ve seen before. Back in the late 80’s, most software developers used to command-line OS’s were laughing at Apple Macintosh computers. They said things such us: „The Macintosh is just a toy, those windows, mouse and graphics are for kids or people who don’t know what a real computer is“. Well, now we know what happened next. From my point of view, and my experience, everything tend to flow „like water“. Computers, websites, etc… are just tools meant to be useful for humans not vice versa. Like it or not, designers are closer to human needs than coders, so it’s just a matter of time… Code will finally disappear or at least will be residual. Muse will outstrip Dreamweaver in months.

  6. RB
    | Permalink

    No offence, Mike, but having read your piece I’d like to recommend another „toy“. It’s called a „spell-checker“.

    • Mike Battistella
      | Permalink

      🙂 yes, could surely make sense.

  7. Rick Gutierrez
    | Permalink

    Muse works great for me. I’ve been a web designer for 13 years and I LOVE Muse. It makes creating simple sites with basic functionality – very, very simple. There are no boundaries to what you can do. I especially like how i can nest widgets to get some things to happen I could never achieve with my limited coding abilities. I don’t have to rely on a programmer for anything now. As for not working in the design workflow I don’t understand where you are coming from? They have something called round-trip editing which allows you to edit the asset in the program it was created in. There is also the ability to import objects as composite or layered images so I don’t understand your comment about workflow? You can literally design a whole page in Photoshop and then bring the file into Muse in layers and make the whole thing interactive without cutting things up. I can accomplish in a matter of hours what used to take our developers weeks to do using Muse and I can do it all myself. The end product has in browser editing that is by far easier to use than any CMS system I’ve ever seen. It’s not a good product, it’s a great product. It’s not perfect. Widgets have their little quirks and there are obviously some „buggy“ code issues happening but this thing is new. I can’t wait to see where it goes. I remember using (trying to use) Dreamweaver 1.0 and THAT was useless. Look at it now – coders still hate it. Maybe it’s just the difference in how we think? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and you are never going to achieve a large enterprise site with Muse without major headaches but for the vast majority of work I do, Muse is perfect.

  8. Ronald Fuquay
    | Permalink

    I am starting to believe Muse will be the answer to most graphic designers needs for web design. I am a graphic designer by trade, but love web design. I know enough about html and css to be dangerous but my grasps on it are not to what most web developers are, so I cannot provide the same level of hand-coded sites that they can provide.

    But with Adobe Edge Animate, Muse, and Business Catalyst integration for CMS needs; any graphic designer willing to learn the software; can provide useful and well designed websites for their clients without the need to learn and understand code.

    I am starting down my first major website design using the software mentioned above, and with it, I have been able to create a beautiful website, that has interactive animation, an online store, a donation form, and blog. None of which needed to use code (with the exception of some CSS needed when integrating the Business Catalyst CMS functions into the muse site).

    • Mike Battistella
      | Permalink

      I strongly hope Muse will mature like InDesign did from it’s beginning. Edge Animate is much further developed than Muse, yet. I use it quite often I consider it very useful, by the way.
      The bottom line of my post is that creating complex web-based user interfaces are a real challenge for an gui based tool. Yet, Muse has not managed to abstract all technical needs of HTML/CSS/JS. But I’m sure it will in the future – it would be a big step forward since it gives designers the ability to do the prototyping by themselves. I would be very glad if I need not to touch code!

  9. Rad the comment above. Not sure what the person was expecting. I am a subscriber of CC, very pleased with Muse so far. I was working with Dreamweaver, but I had great knowledge of InDesign and found Muse a great tool to use for our web site and we are in the Media business. It took me no time at all to re-do my web site using Muse. As for drawing circles…. c’mon get real, you can create a circle in any program and bring it in as a png file or jpg. Besides if you were serious about creating web sites you would already know that.
    Muse simply makes designing a website much faster and easier.
    I can’t wait until they add more features. If you want to see an entire web site created in Muse, check out:

    Well done Adobe!

  10. Roman
    | Permalink

    I think Muse is a great program and i’ve used it a number of times. I love how each new update brings some landmark features to it. However Muse for me has one big downfall and that is – lack of responsive design. I know Adobe recently released a new program for this called Reflow, if they can somehow integrate the two then that will be a killer feature for web design.

  11. Vapor
    | Permalink

    I’ve always looked at having to learn code to create websites as being equivalent to having to learn code to use Photoshop. When I’m using Photoshop, I know there is a ton of code a bunch of people spent a bunch of time writing happening in the background, just so I can use the clone tool. Do I want or need to know that code? Thankfully, no. Does the clone tool do just what I want it to do, visually? Yes. Am I super indebted to those coders, as are we all? Yes.
    But if I, or any visual designer, had to write the code that makes Photoshop work, we’d go back to painting or writing or whatever it was we did before computers sucked up the hours in our day.
    I don’t know what the programming language is that makes Photoshop work, and I don’t want to know. I also don’t want to know HTML, CSS, Javascript or any of that stuff. To me, that’s all stuff that should happen behind the scenes when creating a visual product, which is what a website is.
    I’ve used Adobe Muse to create exactly one site so far, and it works exactly as I want it to, on every browser and device I’ve tested it on.
    I’ve been asked countless times from people I create logos and print ads for if I create websites, and I always had to say no, as I wasn’t interested in code, at all. I remember the days of Adobe PageMill, and it’s amazing it’s taken almost two decades since then for Adobe to come out with a product that finally lets visual designers create visual products.
    Just two days ago I had a meeting with a client I’m creating a logo for, and he wanted me to create a mockup of a website to hand off to a coder. I told him he didn’t need the coder for the type of website he was asking for, it could all be done by someone using Adobe Muse. The coder happened to be sitting in the room and instantly started deriding Muse, saying stuff about dynamic pages and CMS. He sounded very defensive, and I guess I can understand why.

    • Jerome
      | Permalink

      Sorry but you, sir, are an idiot. Websites aren’t a software like photoshop, it’s built on bricks that everybody uses when going online. When you’re preparing a print file, one should be aware of the color gamuts and other limitations involved in the printing process. You see, it’s the same thing with the web.

      If you don’t bother keeping up to date with what property works on which browser, and you don’t even know what a box model is, then quit being a „webdesigner“ altogether.

  12. Chris
    | Permalink

    Muse is for building the website, not designing the graphics. You still need photoshop, illustrator or whatever for the the more intense graphics. Although basic object creation is a lot more than what you say it is – you can do gradient and shadow effects and it is exported as CSS. Easy parralax scrolling effects . Menu creation, page creation is fast and easy.

    The html css is the best out of all the visual editors I’ve tried. Its not just bloated inline code but efficent html css. Its not perfect but its good enough. With a little tweaking I’ve taken sites I’ve created in muse and turned them into wordpress templates for sites that I need to use a CMS. I can hand code sites but with muse I won’t do it unless I have to.

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