Jewish World Review Nov. 12, 2004 / 28 Mar-Cheshvan 5765

NetObjects Fusion A Useful Web Site Builder

By Mark Kellner | There's the old saw about how you can tell a shoemaker's children: they're the ones whose footwear is falling apart. The same, I guess, can be said for some Web sites: the owners are too busy doing things to keep the site up-to-date.

For those people, and, frankly, for this reviewer, that excuse is a little less valid. NetObjects Fusion, released a few months back in version 8, is a $199.95 virtually all-in-one way to create and maintain a Web site. Running on Microsoft Windows, the program offers most of the tools you might need to handle the tasks of setting up a site, and keeping it updated.

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Thanks to its various templates and editing tools, NetObjects Fusion Version 8.0 allows users to produce sophisticated, full-featured sites without a need to master Hyper-Text Markup Language, or HTML, programming. A visual page layout editor, where "what-you-see-is-what-you-get," or WYSIWIG, offers what the publishers call "enhanced creativity and design freedom."

For me, that translates to not having to worry about a host of elements. Do I need a template for my entire site? It's there, and there are plenty to choose from. (If I don't like any in the collection, others are available from Website Pros, which publishes the software, as well as online sellers such as Would I prefer to create my own layout? The tools are there, and they are easier to use than some I've seen.

If time is a concern, you might be happy working with one of the supplied templates. They're distinctive enough to make your site stand out, and that's the basic goal for many of us: We're not out to win awards, just have a presence online.

The program also offers ways to set up "pop up" windows such as a photo gallery, without having to know specific HTML coding techniques. The publishers say the program supports several e-commerce "store engies" such as PayPal, Beanstream, ShopPro, QuickCommerce and Kurant StoreSense, and lets users switch from one t another easily. Apparently, it's thought that a small business might start with PayPal and work their way up - or at least have that option.

NetObjects Fusion 8 also has better integration with databases such as Microsoft Access, as well as better navigation tools, enabling more "layers" in a Web site's organization. Some users like to have such an option; others need it to organize large Web sites.

Perhaps the greatest enhancement of the new product is a built-in photo editing tool that can resize photos, remove red eye, crop and manipulate images, as well as save them in various formats including GIF, JPG and PNG, all of which are favored in Web design.

Did I mention that all this is less than $200? That's important, because it's clear that NetObjects Fusion 8 is aimed at small to medium sized businesses, as well as the millions of us who are entrepreneurial in one fashion or another. Larger companies and organizations will often contract out such work or have a Webmaster on staff. Such firms are also more likely to have staffers who know (and use) Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX 2004 - which is twice the price.

Installation and setup for Fusion 8 is rather easy; on a reasonably well-equipped Windows computer, the program moves quickly and well. The WYSIWIG look of the program is far less intimidating, I would imagine, to those whose main business is, well, their business and not Web design. Results can be previewed in Internet Explorer 6 or other Web browsers; changing such defaults is easy.

With practice, I would probably become a master of this program, and that may yet happen. For now, I'm glad to have a quick-and-not-at-all-dirty tool in my arsenal that can let me craft and publish a Web site in a couple of hours, as opposed to a couple of weeks. You might like it, too: details are online at

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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