Fusion has long had a reputation as a sophisticated application that can produce competent results but is easy to use, particularly when compared with Dreamweaver and GoLive. While it provides plenty of wizards to set up pages quickly, it also offers a wealth of tools to control some pretty advanced features for your site, including controls for online shops and RSS feeds.
NetObjects introduced the really substantial changes from version 7.0 onwards. This latest release does not feel like such a major upgrade, but it does offer improvements that will appeal to current users as well as those who are new to the program. One of the modifications that has been promoted most – the ability to build Flash websites without Flash – is more limited than it first appears, but is a welcome addition anyway.
More impressive are tools for helping with site building and maintenance. Thus, for example, the locking controls mean that objects, images and entire areas of pages can be locked to prevent editing – accidental or otherwise. The new navigation options do not end with the addition of Flash controls: you can also add decorative end caps to navigation graphics and build up sophisticated-looking buttons.
Best of all, however, is the addition of a range of tools to the Custom Components suite. Some of these are extremely useful, such as the Secure Site package to provide login and password tools, RSS and the ability to add Google Search to your pages.
Other improvements will be appreciated by experienced designers. Extensions to CSS (cascading style sheet) controls within Fusion enable you to adjust the appearance of forms and database output, providing full portability and management should you decide to configure your website for different platforms. Similarly, the Versions Manager allows developers to create and store different editions of sites, which is particularly handy for debugging and tracking changes.
Other web wonders
For design professionals, Dreamweaver – formerly owned by Macromedia, but now part of the Adobe stable – remains the best application around, not least because there's an active community developing plug-in extensions for just about every task that a designer needs to do.
For many people, however, it remains extremely difficult to use. And while the main alternative, GoLive, has some fans (particularly among print designers), it is even harder to use. As well as difficulty, there remains the element of cost.
For occasional users, much the better options are Serif WebPlus or Namo Web Editor.