The Creative Cloud Chronicles: Muse CC Updated

By Chris Dickman
Founding Editor, Graphics.com

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The last time we heard, more than 500,000 sites had been created with Muse CC, Adobe's code-free site creation tool. Since a large part of its appeal is that designers can jump in and create sites with no knowledge of what's under the hood (although mastery of CSS and an understanding of HTML5 is highly recommended), users are to some extent reliant on Adobe continually adding to its capabilities. The last Muse update was back in August, which made it possible to employ scroll motion effects using a new Scroll Effects panel. It also made long, single-page sites easier to navigate and provided better support (a smoother display) for such effects on tablets and smartphones. Nice, but not a significant leap forward.

The latest update moves things forward on several fronts. Let's start with the new Social Widgets, which contain embedded HTML that can be configured within Muse by using the Options panel when the widget is dragged onto the design canvas. New social widgets include Facebook Comments, Facebook Follow, Facebook Like, Google Maps, LinkedIn, Muse Badge, Paypal, Pinterest, Twitter Follow, Twitter Tweet, Vimeo Video and YouTube Video.

While Muse was originally pitched as a solution for code-averse designers, the reality is that cool stuff requires cool coding. Accordingly, this release of Muse includes a new widget type that is said to have a unique, extensible structure known as .mucow (Muse Configurable Options Widget). This apparently allows "code-savvy Muse users" to create new Embed HTML widgets based on parameters defined in an XML file (joy). To tap the capabilities of this you're going to want to devote an afternoon to perusing the Muse .mucow documentation. It's basicaly an end-run around the current (structural?) limitations of Muse, so it's well worth checking out.

Handy indeed is the new ability to save Muse design elements such as guides, widgets, text and all associated paragraph/graphic/named swatches associated with each element in a persistent User Library panel. Library elements can be exported to the new .mulib format and distributed, while double-clicking on a .mulib file in the MacOS Finder or Windows Explorer will install the library within the Muse application. Example Library elements may be downloaded from the Muse Exchange page, such as starter templates, prototyping tools and interactive widgets. It's a rather modest collection at launch but hopefully it will develop more depth in the coming months, since such a resource could play a significant role for the Muse community.

A new Full Screen widget has been added to the Slideshow area of the Widget panel, which makes "Hero" images placed in the slideshow scale to fit or fill the browser window.

Building on the August release an updated Scroll Effects panel now provides the ability to apply opacity and fading to scroll elements and add scroll effects to Adobe Edge animations and slideshows. Other improvements include an enhanced spell-check; in-app help; localizations for Russian, Finnish, Portuguese, Czech and Polish; an option to toggle redirect for mobile layouts; and improved image handling.

It all adds up to a pretty substantial upgrade, which is just what is required to keep Muse from remaining relevant in a crowded and quickly-evolving field — if Adobe blinks, Muse will quickly join NetObjects Fusion in the ashcan of code-free site creation tools. And without seeming to be ungrateful, it's been a long time since we've seen significant enhancements to Photoshop. So hopefully the next big upgrade to Creative Cloud will be for that. Remember Photoshop, Adobe? The application that most of your users employ every day?