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By James Fritz |

New Adobe Muse features for Q3

A few months ago, Adobe released Adobe Muse to the public. One benefit of Muse being available by subscription only is the ability for Adobe to provide new features whenever they happen to be ready. The first batch of updates were recently released and include a combination of must-have new features and improved usability. The lynda.com Muse Essential Training course has also been updated with a number of movies that cover these new features in depth. The following is an overview of what has changed.

Ruler Guides

Adobe Muse Ruler Guides

Muse now has the ability to create Ruler Guides, which help to align your designs. You can drag guides from the horizontal or vertical ruler onto your page, and lock, hide, move, and delete them just as you would in InDesign and other Adobe applications. For a closer look at the Muse Ruler Guides, watch the movie Using Ruler Guides, from the sixth chapter of Muse Essential Training.

Align panel

The Adobe Muse Align panel

In the first version of Muse, you were only allowed to align by using the built-in Smart Guides. While Smart Guides are useful, Muse now features an Align panel that lets you align and distribute objects between one another, and to web pages themselves. For a closer look at the Muse Align panel, watch the movie Using the Align panel from the sixth chapter of Muse Essential Training.

New Font menu

Adobe Muse new Font menu showing Web fonts and Web Safe fonts

The Font menu has also been rebuilt to be easier to use. Now you can search for a particular font among Web Fonts, Web Safe Fonts, and System Fonts. It even features a Recently Used Fonts section at the top of the menu. To learn more about the Font menu, check out the movie Formatting your text, from chapter seven of Muse Essential Training.

Form fields

Adobe Muse form fields

Arguably the most important update to Muse is the ability to create and edit basic text fields as forms. These fields help you create a basic contact form that will work well if you are publishing with the website host Adobe Business Catalyst. If you use a third-party host, Muse will write the correct HTML for the forms when you export or upload. However, you will need to edit the code for the forms to work properly. Muse is still missing more complicated forms like check boxes and radio buttons, which hopefully will arrive in a future update. To learn more about text forms, watch Understanding text form fields in the eleventh chapter of Muse Essential Training.

FTP upload

Adobe Muse FTP Upload dialog box

The easiest way to publish a website is by using Adobe Business Catalyst as your host, but you may prefer to use your own third-party host. Until now you were required to export your website from Muse and then use your own FTP client to upload the site to your own host. With the latest Muse update, it just got easier since there is now an FTP client built directly into Muse. Simply enter your host information and upload your website inside Muse whenever changes are made.

Downloadable assets

Adobe Muse Downloadable assets pulldown menu

If you have ever wanted to add a PDF, ZIP, or other file on your website for people to download, you may recall it was difficult to do with the earlier version of Muse. The updated version now allows you to add any type of file you want as a downloadable asset. When you add a file for someone to download, it is added to the Asset panel as a link. From there, you can select any graphic or text and create a link to that asset for download. When you publish your website, the file will be automatically uploaded to your host along with the code and images.

Usability and UI improvements

Sometimes the little changes can make all of the difference. Here is a list of some of the tweaks to the Muse interface that will help you work more smoothly:

  • • Duplicate while Transforming: The X, Y, W, H, and angle edit boxes support duplicating and transforming a selection if you hold down the Option key (or Alt key on a PC) as you enter a value and press Enter. This functionality is similar in other Adobe apps like InDesign and Illustrator.
  • • Shift+Enter: Similar to Duplicate while Transforming functionality, if you enter a value in an edit box you can do a Shift+Enter to apply the value and keep focus in the edit box. One benefit of this function is the ability to adjust your text and try several text-size values without having to click in the edit box, select all, and then type another value.
  • • Drag-and-drop styles/swatches/colors: With the Muse update you can drag the following:
    • -Paragraph styles onto text frames to apply (the bug where it only applied to the first paragraph has been fixed)
    • -Character styles onto text frames to apply
    • -Graphic styles into page items or a page to apply
    • -Swatches onto a page item, page, or browser area of a page to apply background fill
    • -Color onto a page item, page, or browser area of a page to apply background fill (by dragging the color preview area just above the RGB edit boxes)
    • -Color to the Swatches palette to create a swatch of it
  • • Rotate Cursor feedback: Added feedback to the Rotation Tracker so you see the angle next to the cursor as you rotate.
  • • Rotation display values: Changed rotation display values to be between -180 and 180 to match other Adobe applications (previously it was 0 to 360).
  • • Groups and widgets: Indicated with dotted line containment rectangles.
  • • When a page item cannot be resized in a specific direction an X is shown instead of a missing handle.
  • • Additional controls—Transform, Text, and Align: Added to the Control strip.
  • •  If you have a pointer, you can access Text controls in the Control strip when any item on the canvas is selected.
  • • Object names report multiples in the Control Strip: For example, if one text frame is selected, the menu reports Text Frame. If multiple text frames are selected, the menu reports Text Frames.
  • • Control Strip: Reports states for pages and objects, and will show a dropdown list of states applied to that object.
  • • Preferences: Allows you to turn off the Hint label/tooltip.
  • • An FAQ link to help users understand the implications of publishing, and alleviate their fears about what publishing means, has been added.

Code generation improvements

One of the advantages of using Muse is that you generally do not have to worry about working with HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, because code is automatically generated when you publish or export your layout. Even though you may not think about code, the Muse team spends a lot of time tweaking and improving code generation. Since these small tweaks will collectively improve the speed, performance, and optimization of your site, it is recommended that a site be re-exported/published after updating to the latest version of Muse. This update includes the following code-based improvements:

  • • Updates to state-based groups, or, what happens when Muse generates a separate HTML structure for each state of a Muse page item. State-based groups can cause problems with Google Analytics as well as click-event problems. For cases where you are not rasterizing the entire page item and its contents, Muse will create a much simpler HTML structure and change the styling via CSS. Note that Muse rasterizes the entire page item and its contents in the following cases: Text frames that use System Fonts, rotated page items, and images with a Bevel or Inner Glow effect applied.
  • • Shadows/glows use the CSS box-shadow property.
  • • Gradients are created with CSS.
  • • A Sitemap.XML file improves SEO.
  • • JavaScript runtime is improved (15 percent less code).
  • • Shift+Return creates a line break (<br>) instead of a hard return.
  • • Internet Explorer 7 and 8 (IE7 and IE8) don’t support transparency in shadows, so Muse shadows use a tinted color matted against the page fill color for the IE7 and IE8 CSS.

List of updated and new movies to Muse Essential Training:

  • Introduction
  • What is new in the August 2012 update
  • Chapter 2
  • Understanding the current selection (update)
  • Understanding the Hint label
  • Chapter 5
  • Adding animations from Adobe Edge
  • Adding downloadable content
  • Chapter 6
  • Using Ruler Guides
  • Using the Align panel
  • Chapter 7
  • Formatting your text (update)
  • Working with Web Safe and System Fonts (update)
  • Working with Typekit Fonts (update)
  • Chapter 11
  • Understanding text form fields
  • Creating a simple form
  • Chapter 13
  • Exporting your site to HTML (update)
  • Uploading your site via FTP

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