Will Muse Kill the Web Development Industry?


When Microsoft released FrontPage back in 1997 many people thought that the web design industry would suffer because all of the sudden anyone could use this software to create a pretty decent looking website without having to know HTML.

Of course CSS, PHP, MySQL, Python, Ruby on Rails, etc. all changed the game for the WYSIWYG editors. If you wanted a dynamic, data driven web site you needed to hire a developer.

And with everything being “Web 2.0”, static websites just lost their appeal to many.

So in a world of rapid application development where software “writes itself” it was only a matter of time before something hit the market that would promise to make the development of interactive, feature-rich sites without the need to write any code.

And is it any wonder that such a product would come from Adobe?

Code named Muse, the application’s basic idea is to allow web developers to:

  • Plan web development projects
  • Add customizable widgets to a web page
  • Create rich navigation menus
  • Embed code snippets from Google Maps, Facebook, Yahoo!, etc.
  • Easily change the layout, graphics and text of the web site without making code changes

Oh, and encompasses drag and drop features as well.

What this means for web developers

To those who didn’t live through the earlier days of the web, back when HTML was hand written all the time, may not remember when WYSIWYG tools were going to ruin the web design industry. After all, who would pay thousands of dollars for a professional web designer when they could buy a program for 99 dollars at Office Depot that would allow them to create “professionally looking websites”?

Well those of us that are old enough to remember those days could tell you that while products like Dreamweaver and Expression Web may have made the design of web sites easier, they certainly didn’t ruin the industry.

The same can be said of Muse. It is certainly a tool that will make web development easier and more accessible to other people, it will in no way replace a person who knows how to code websites rich with interactive components.

Where Muse comes up lacking

To me, I see Muse as a product similar to Contribute. Dreamweaver was always the workhorse for web designers and developers while Contribute served as the preferred choice for amateurs. It introduced people to the world of web design, and its simple drag and drop, click and type web pages could be created, edited and published in minutes. But they were nothing spectacular.

And people who took web sites seriously quickly found themselves outgrowing Contribute’s restrictive environment.

Muse will suffer the same fate. Many people will rely on it, and Muse will be a great tool to introduce people to web development; but those who want more than a foundation will find that the environment is far too controlling.

So as Muse moves out of beta and gets a permanent name we will start to see some really funky things going on with web site widgets and scrolling nav bars but don’t fret. Those of us who still fire up the text editor for a little hand coding from time to time will continue to create web projects worthy of our visitors.

Want to see Muse in action? Check out Adobe’s Muse showcase and let us know what you think of Muse…

By Jeff
Jeff is a freelance writer and the editor of Developer Drive. He writes on web development topics with a focus on web application security. In his spare time he coaches youth football and works as a technology coordinator for the Palm Beach County school district. More articles by Jeff
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