Adobe Releases Muse for Code-Free (and Messy) HTML Websites

Muse website
The Adobe Muse website was created entirely using the software.

Adobe has created new beta software for designing and publishing HTML and CSS websites code-named Adobe Muse without the need to learn HTML mark-up or CSS. This WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor uses elements from other Adobe products to bring a degree of familiarity to users of the new software.

The software to targeted to users with no experience in HTML and CSS. Brian Wood, an Adobe trainer, said “using Muse graphic professionals can create compelling websites just like you create print content” in a video explaining Adobe Muse.

Adobe Muse code
Example of Adobe Muse generated code from the Muse-created website. This can be seen be viewing source code on the Adobe Muse website.

The Adobe Muse websites shows a sample of the power available to users though, unfortunately, does not use many semantic HTML5 elements falling back to wrapping most elements in a div tag and giving every paragraph an ID for no clear reason. Therefore, the end product created by Adobe Muse would be very hard to update by a professional web developer who uses HTML and CSS without using the Muse software.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in the draft HTML5 specification said that “Authors are strongly encouraged to view the div element as an element of last resort, for when no other element is suitable. Use of the div element instead of more appropriate elements leads to poor accessibility for readers and poor maintainability for authors.”

The software will be free until the early 2012 release after the testing period the software will only be available by buying a yearly subscription (US $15.00 per month) or a month-to-month plan which allows the subscription to be stopped and started after each month for US $20.00 per month.

Adobe Muse will work on both Windows and Mac OSX though Linux will be left out. Adobe Muse developers saying “At the time of this writing, there are no plans to certify Muse for Linux. However, Muse is an Adobe AIR® application and AIR does support Linux. Therefore it may be possible to install Muse and run it on Linux, but there will likely be Linux-specific bugs.”

Mozilla Authenticates Users Using Browser With Sign-in Button

The Identity team at Mozilla has released Browser Sign In, an experimental add-on, which places a button to authenticate users using the browser in the address bar. The addition to the BrowserID project will make it easier to log in to websites by having a uniform location for the button.

Lloyd Hilaiel from Mozilla explained that the BrowserID experiment had several key design features including that it will use email addresses instead of usernames, no third party network transactions would be made,  authentication be browser-side and it would be easy for other browser vendors to add.

Hilaiel says “BrowserID is hoped to ultimately become an alternative to the tradition of ad-hoc application-level authentication based on site-specific user-names and passwords.” Developers are able to start using BrowserID by adding the BrowserID JavaScript and API library as detailed in documentation.

Red button for signing into websites.
Example of Mozilla Sign-in button

The Mozilla team have set-up a demo website called MyFavoriteBeer which allows users to test the add-on by clicking on the sign-in button in the toolbar and setting up BrowserID which will verify your email address.

HTTPS Everywhere Extension 1.0 Released

HTTPS Everywhere logo with padlock
Based on logo by the Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and The TOR Project have released the first stable release of HTTPS Everywhere. The extension for Firefox has now exited beta, supports over a thousand websites, has a better user interface and “performance improvements” according to the developers.

The extension forces website to use the secure HTTPS where available and encrypts requests from your browser to websites. Peter Eckersley, Senior Staff Technologist at EFF, said “without HTTPS, your online reading habits and activities are vulnerable to eavesdropping, and your accounts are vulnerable to hijacking.”

Currently the extension is only available for Firefox users as Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari APIs have limitations in request rewriting. EFF say “that means that there is currently no way to write a secure version of HTTPS Everywhere without modifying the Chrome source code.” KB SSL Enforcer is an alternative though EFF say that it does not appear to be secure.

The extension was first released June 17 2010 as public beta by TOR and EFF. The project was “inspired by the launch of Google’s encrypted search option.” EFF had asked Google to include encrypted search and said “we’re very pleased to see it come to pass”.

Adobe Edge Released for HTML5 and CSS Animation

Adobe Edge on a Mac
Adobe Edge screenshot via Adobe Systems

Adobe has released a free public preview for Adobe Edge, new software from the creators of Flash which will use new HTML5 and CSS3 standards with JavaScript to create animated content. The program works with both Mac and PCs. Adobe say the software can be used for “advertising, simple animations and motion design for new compositions or using existing CSS-based page layouts.”

Adobe say there is an opportunity for both HTML5 and Flash in the world of content, although Apple already does not support Flash on their iOS devices. Kevin Fernandez, Group Product Manager for Adobe’s Web Pro Segment, told ReadWriteWeb “HTML5 is an opportunity for Adobe,” and “that’s not to say there aren’t opportunities for Flash.”

Development of the project was seen last year during the Adobe MAX event. The software is based on WebKit and will work in all modern browsers without the need for the user to install plug-ins as it uses web standards. Android, iOS, HP’s webOS and the BlackBerry PlayBook are the mobile devices which are supported.

Adobe has also created a showcase with the major additions in CSS3 and HTML5 in a slick animation with examples and the percentage of browsers who will be able to use your content.

Mozilla Hits Milestone in Javascript PDF Rendering

Mozilla developers have reached their first milestone for PDF rendering using JavaScript.The in-house technology will be used in Mozilla browsers and is currently in development and can be seen in Github. Mozilla has licensed the JavaScript code under a 3-clause BSD license which they say is very liberal.

The latest improvements since that project’s first announcement include TrueType font support, masked images and the use of the HTML5 canvas element as well as other visual tweaks. The results were posted on the blog of Chris Jones from Mozilla. He said that ‘it renders the Tracemonkey paper perfectly’ and added that the end product would work in all HTML5 browsers.

New Adobe Flash Player 10.3 Allows Quick Clearing of Flash Cookies

Adobe Flash Player Icon
Image via Wikipedia

The latest edition of Adobe Flash Player, version 10.3,will allow for the clearing of flash cookies in your browser privacy setting. Emily Huang from the Adobe Flash team blog saying this feature ‘streamlines the controls of the Flash Player privacy, security and storage settings within the local control panel of desktop OSes.’

The update is available for Windows, MacOS, Linux and Android from Adobe. Two desktop-only features of ‘acoustic echo cancellation’ for clearer audio and ‘media measurement’ for in-depth user statistics for developers. Auto-update notifications will also be coming for the MacOS.

It is expected that users of Android Honeycomb tablets will experience improved speed due to  a previous 10.2 Flash player upgrade for Android devices.

Previously to delete flash cookies the installation of an add-on was necessary, such as BetterPrivacy which can automatically delete flash cookies in Firefox.

Chromium is Google Chrome Without the Branding

Tabs in Chromium by Google.

Chromium is the open-source source code made by Google and allows you to be on the cutting edge of browser developments. In Chromium, several Google-related components including in-built PDF and flash players, Google Update, usage tracking and Google branding are not included.

The source code is complied at least once a day and downloads are available on the Chromium website complied for Windows, Linux and Mac.  Google Update isn’t included which can be seen as a good thing as the updater runs all the time and automatically updates in the background. However, you wouldn’t be automatically up-to-date unless you use Chromium Updater which needs to be installed manually or try out one of the extensions.

Remember that Chromium could be unstable when compared the stable releases of Google Chrome. The main purpose of releasing Google Chrome’s source code was a hope ‘…that other projects can use it to make their products better, just as we’ve been able to adopt code from other open source projects to make our product better,’ in their first post way back in 2008.

Mozilla Firefox Publishes List of Slowest Add-ons

Mozilla has published a list naming and shaming the slowest Firefox add-ons blamed for causing Firefox to ‘slow … to a crawl’ and which ‘make it difficult to use for regular web browsing.’

Add-ons are ranked from the slowest which is now FoxLingo, a dictionary and translation add-on, and Firebug which both impact Firefox by a massive 74% slowdown. Other popular add-ons such as Adblock Plus (21%), FlashGot (50%) and NoScript(16%) have all been rated.

Mozilla has also published guidelines for the best practices in making faster add-ons which include using JavaScript modules and writing efficient CSS.

Enable “Do Not Track” in Firefox 4 for Better Privacy

The Do Not Track feature signals to advertisers that you do not want to be tracked. However there is unlikely to be any effect until advertisers respond to these requests on their websites. To enable click on the orange Firefox button>Options>Advanced and select “tell websites I do not want to be tracked”

Enabling the Do Not Track feature in Firefox 4

How to Use Firefox 4 Panorama and Tab Groups

One of the best new features in Firefox 4 is the tab groups feature (panorama), made for users who use lots of tabs and need an organized browsing experience.

To get to the Firefox Panorama feature click the arrow towards the end of your tabs and select ‘tab groups’ (see image below) or use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + E.

Finding the Firefox Panorama Button

Once you’ve clicked on the Panorama button drag your tabs into an empty space to create a new group. To search for tabs start typing in the tab groups panel or click on the search icon. Groups can be renamed using the pencil icon and deleting unwanted tabs is simply the ‘x’ button.

Firefox Panorama Tab Grouping

Once you have created your tab groups they are accessible again in the tabs bar. More information is available in this Firefox YouTube video: