NetObjects Fusion XII
NetObjects Fusion XII (© 2010) is a more recent version of the free NetObjects Essentials (© 2003). The latest patch is dated November 22nd 2011. The upgrade price was just £24.95 on a special offer.
The program itself doesn’t seem to have changed much internally — my old sites opened without difficulty, though new sites won’t open in the older version.
Most changes seem to be with the interface, which has improved significantly, and is customisable to a great extent.
Anyone familiar with customising Serif™ applications will find NetObjects Fusion XII very similar. It also has panels (Studio tabs) on each side of the window. This can be set to docked, auto-hide (which will collapse to a tab), or off. The panels that I use the most — Site Navigation and the Properties Inspector — both have shortcut keys (F2 and F3 respectively), so they can be turned off and shown only when needed. The Image Bank is like the Media Bar in PagePlus X5, and shows all of the images used in the current site.
After arranging the panels that you need, the workspace can be saved for reuse.
There are eight preset Themes (GUI Colour schemes) to choose from — I chose the Native XP Theme. Others are Office 2007 Aqua, Black, Blue, or Silver, Office XP, Office 2003, or Studio 2005.
The Toolbars can use large (32 pix) or small (16 pix) icons, and each toolbar can be docked, floating, or off. Individual toolbar icons can be removed, or added to any toolbar. New toolbars can be created, and new menus can be added to toolbars, but as far as I can tell the menu bar cannot be edited, which is unfortunate because many menu items are lacking access keys.
A fullscreen mode removes the toolbar, status line, and Windows title bar, leaving only the menus and scroll bars. The fullscreen toolbar has only one icon on it by default — to exit fullscreen mode. Using the customise options in fullscreen mode, other frequently used icons can be added to this toolbar so that working in fullscreen mode is more efficient.
The “Fullscreen” toolbar that is shown when not in fullscreen mode is actually a different toolbar, so the fullscreen icon can be added to another toolbar and the “Fullscreen” toolbar can be hidden in windowed mode. This enables fullscreen and window views to be customised independently.
The Views toolbar switches between site view, page view, assets, preview, and publishing modes.
After taking the trouble to customise the workspace, make sure that you save it, and keep a backup copy. It may be a lot of work to redo even if you can remember exactly what you did before. My workspace profiles are stored in:
\My Documents\NetObjects Fusion 12.0\NetObjects System\Profiles\<Username>\Layout\
The files have an *.xml extension.
There is a free support forum to get help from staff or other users. It is not great compared to the Serif™ forums and other software support forums that I frequent. Still, it is better than nothing, and the forum does show some signs of life. I have had at least a few replies that really helped me.
Saving my main website of 284 pages, which is 44.6 Mbytes on disk, takes just a couple of seconds. Starting the program with the site takes 45 seconds from cold, or 12 seconds for a warm start. A warm start with my very large site of 3,885 pages took 30 seconds. This is noticeably slower than the older free version. Site navigation is quick and very easy with the navigation tab bar. Shortcuts work as before — Ctrl + Left/Right Up/Down — to navigate to sibling, parent, or child pages.
If you can get it for £25 it is well worth the upgrade from the free version, though I do not see enough reasons to justify the full price. It is more suitable than WebPlus X5 for large sites, but it lacks the excellent graphics tools, proper Unicode support, and shortcut customisation. Unless you need to work with very large sites, or must have the option for fluid layouts, I think WebPlus X5 would be better value since that is only £40. The latest WebPlus X6 is slightly more expensive at £81.69.