Adobe Muse – A Threat To Web Development? Probably Not

Adobe Muse – A Threat To Web Development? Probably Not

They took our jerbs!

If you haven’t heard of Adobe’s latest offering, Muse, then you probably don’t read any web development blogs, including this one. If you do read them, and still haven’t heard of it, well, you have now! You may thank me for your enlightenment later. Anyway, there are a LOT of comments from web developers bashing the hell out of this product. I have not seen many (I can’t even recall one actually) comments praising it for what it does. What does it do? Write serious crappy code. I mean divititus to the umpteenth degree.

This product isn’t meant for my people though. Who do I mean by “my people”? I’m talking about those who hand code their sites and left software like Dreamweaver in the dust years back. Muse is meant for graphic designers, or web designers that don’t actually know how to create a site but design them anyway. They create a design, and then use Muse (which has tools like other Adobe products – think Photoshop) to make a nice little layout. Hit a button and BAM! Here is your website.

I think many of the people doing this for a living though feel a slight twinge of fear, thinking this might cut into our freelance projects, or possibly worse…our jobs.

Damn…that went all serious, didn’t it?

Nothing to fear

If anything, Muse might actually GIVE us more work for the future. Some designer building a site for a client that wants a little functionality, or some jQuery bit added later, is going to get screwed. “I’m sorry Mr. Client, but I don’t actually know how to do that cool widget thing,” which in turn makes the client go out and look for someone like us. They give us a call, and we say yes, we can help. We go to their current site, look around and say “Nice design you have.” But…then we look at the source. In two seconds we think “Well this is interest…WHAT THE F#$@!?” Because we are looking at something like this:

<div class="colelem" id="n4"><!-- group -->
     <div class="grpelem" id="n5"><!-- group -->
      <div class="grpelem" id="n6"><!-- content -->
       <p id="n8">Some stupid line about hummingbirds</p>
       <div class="wrap"></div>
      <div class="grpelem" id="n10"><!-- content -->
       <p id="n12">Yes, hummingbirds are indeed small.</p>
       <p id="n14">&nbsp; <span id="n15"></span></p>
       <p id="n16">They are even fast as hell!</p>
       <div class="wrap"></div>

Ok, I changed the actual text in there, but the HTML is actually from one of Muse’s showcase sites. What is worse is, that is only a small piece. While looking at this poor client’s site, after the initial shock, we take a look at the CSS and pray for something brilliant. What do we see?

#n18, #n148
	z-index: 100;
	width: 534px;
	min-height: 82px;
	position: relative;
	margin-right: -534px;
	margin-top: 199px;
	left: 299px;
#n26, #n156
	z-index: 108;
	width: 447px;
	position: relative;
	margin-right: -447px;
	margin-top: 10px;
#n28, #n158
	z-index: 110;
	width: 534px;
	min-height: 214px;
	position: relative;
	margin-right: -534px;
	margin-top: 301px;
	left: 434px;

At that point I would get up and throw my trackball at the wall cursing the heavens for making my eyes see this offense to the gods of web development. “Why?!” My first reaction was actually just speechless. I seriously HATE negative margins. HATE them. This stylesheet is littered with it. On top of that, everything is positioned pixel perfect. That is just a few items you see positioned relatively, and z-indexed to hell. Trust me, the whole THING is like that. So what would you do if a client comes to you for some changes or additions to a site built like this?

For me, there are two options: 1) I either flat out tell them no, because I don’t want to get involved knowing that this type of client isn’t going to want to pay me what I need/want, or 2) I charge them my usual hourly rate and warn them this could possibly cost them more than what they paid for the site. I either get the money for the work I’ll have to put into it, or I won’t end up having to deal with this pile of crap.

People are overreacting

I understand all of the bad comments I’ve read. I agree with some of them. Muse writes horrible code. Must writes horrible CSS. Muse is bad for the web. Wait…what? See that is where I don’t agree. One, I think the audience for this product is going to be very small. It’s not like every freakin’ graphic designer is going to go out and buy this and think “HAHAHA! Screw all you HTML junkies, I can build websites too!” Absolutely not. If people are really into learning how to build a website, they aren’t going to be getting into Muse. No one is going to start a business where they build websites for clients using it. Just won’t happen.

The people that will use it are going to be designers who want a portfolio of their work up, but don’t know how to build a site, or maybe a person starting a small business that has no budget or a willing relative that dabbles in HTML. Or maybe a print designer who has done a bunch of advertising work for a small client, who then needs a basic info site which they can provide now. We are talking about a very small fraction of people here.

Here is a quote from the comment section of this article that really sums up what others are also probably feeling:

“This whole idea to me seems like cheating and it devalues our trade. To top it off, it does not even create elegant, semantic or as you rightly say, fluid markup either!”

Does it create non-semantic code? Yes. Does this matter to anyone that isn’t a web developer? No. Clients do not know, nor do they care about semantics. I’ve never had a client actually even look at the HTML of a site I’ve built. Ever. It just needs to work for them to be happy.

Does Muse take the web a step backwards? Are we going to see thousands of sites made with Muse, and end any type of innovation? What?? No, that is ridiculous. We all need to take a step back and take a breath. Web developers are taking such huge offense by this product. “How dare they make a product that makes it seem like what we do is easy!” Adobe didn’t take aim at our jobs. There is no hidden agenda trying to belittle what we do. They are trying to make money, that’s it.

Read about it and forget it

My whole point is that the people hating on Muse, are the people that won’t be using it. It was NEVER intended for web developers. I will never open the program, and mostly likely neither will you. Muse is meant to get a website up by people that have no idea about how to do it. It is another WYSIWYG, and we left those behind some time ago anyway, haven’t we? I say bring on the freelance projects that might come our way because of it. The amount of time it will take to correct Muse’s crap will bring in some nice cash! Unfortunately it is hard to gauge how actual users like the product because we are the only ones commenting on it. Which kind of seems unfair. Let a designer use it who hasn’t built a site before make the call. I don’t see much difference between Muse and Dreamweaver’s design view. Muse just writes the HTML/CSS in a much more offensive manner.

Your opinion and mine don’t really matter on it. I’d like to know what the actual potential users of it think, but by now they are probably too scare to comment because a lot of us are bitching up a storm.

If you wish to read another article about Muse, this one was worth the effort as well.

Coupon Code: webmachine


6 Responses to “Adobe Muse – A Threat To Web Development? Probably Not”

  1. Andrew Turner says:

    I am only a hobbyist and have only made one site on Muse, but hopefully I am entitled to an oppinion on this.

    Why are all these coders so frightened? What they do is so clever surely there can be no threat.
    In my experience there are many sites at the moment that do not actually work properly. I assume that sites of domain vendors would be professionally made. It took me four attempts to buy my domain name which was 1)unavailable 2) My credit card was no good for and 3) I could not even see the captcha, fourth time click click click thank you sir, as it should be. I am always told that it is my fault, my screen resolution is set incorrectly I am using an old fashioned browser.

    As far as I am concerned the most important thing in a site is the content. It does not matter how wonderful the code is if the content is no good then noone will read it. Most people using web sites are not in ths slightest bit concerned about the code as the author said. Time will tell!

    • jcDesigns says:

      There is no reason for fear on this. It won’t affect anything in any way. I think a lot of it was just knee jerk reaction on reading “hey, this thing builds websites”.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. E says:

    I know this comment will get me a place in webdevelopers-hell but: “We don’t really care how the code is written as long as it works and does what we want it to do.”

    You have to see this from a design perspective Muse provides a quick handy tool that allows us to make a simple website without worries. It even offers photoshop compability.

    What would take a nooob like me a 3 to 4 days in dreamweaver I can now do in 3 to 4 hours in Muse and it even looks better.

    I prefer this way of working to choosing a template from some webdesignsite and filling it with “content”. There is a void out there that this program has comfortably filled.
    I don’t think it’s going to replace webdevelopers because it is a program with limits and not every project is suitable for muse but it’s a handy tool in a designers arsenal.


  3. EFM says:

    “No one is going to start a business where they build websites for clients using it. Just won’t happen.”
    yeah…. unfortunately, they have. And our nightmares are starting to become a reality. I just had an unknowing client sign off on a deal with a designer who runs a web design shop and who claims to program and do CMS sites like WordPress. Said designer even claims to do “Responsive Design”. This designer’s entire business web site was built in Adobe Muse.

    And clients just don’t know better. They think, wow, look at this great design (which wasn’t that great to begin with)

    and here we go………..

  4. The perfect answer to all the coders who have constantly ripped off designers for years would to point out the S*** design (and i use that word loosely) of this site.

    Do not forget that designers are born whilst developers are born and are 2 a penny now thanks to the universities.

    Designers could learn how to code but coders could never learn to design if they were not born with the talent.

  5. AHahaha totally agree using any WYSIWYG editor be it Front page, Dreamweaver or inpage article editor in WordPress/Joomla and similar is asking for problems, and foget about HTML5 semantic compliance it would be F#$#d big time therefore forget also about google placement you will be on last page when google start utilizing semantics and i am sure they will in near future.

    As for designer only way to edit this F#@$@NG mess they create is to use same editor they used to create website or spend week doing Mikey Mouse fixes for each page hating yourself and all web design.

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