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Using external data, spreadsheets and databases with Adobe Muse websites

In this article we will discuss the need for data sources in Adobe Muse and what are the options to embed, import or connect Muse to achieve dynamic data connections.

What is a datasource.

For this article we will use the term datasource to relate to any external list, database or spreadsheet that can be added to, updated or have items deleted from. This could be a database a spreadsheet or simple a text file. The point is the data source can not in itself be added to a Muse page.

The data source maybe a list of employees, a list of products for sale, a property list or a directory even a blog. As Muse is designed for page layout and interactivity rather then data manipulation it has no inherent way of allowing data to be added to a page at present. So what are your options?

  1. Show the data as an image or static text.
  2. Make the data downloadable.
  3. Embed the data.
  4. Use Muse with a dynamic datasource (Business Catalyst).

Option One: Making an image of the data.

Lets take a look at our first option showing the data as an image or as static text. Lets say you have a price list for a coffee shop that needs to be updated on a regular basis. You could create a spreadsheet in Apple numbers or another app, format its appearance there and just copy the block from the app into Muse. This method works especially well with Apple iWork data but comes with obvious issues such as the fact that it is an image and not selectable data. 

However it does work and might be a way of getting data from one source onto the site.

Option Two: Making the data downloadable.

Lets say that this is not really dynamic data so we will move to the next on our list downloadable data.

If you have data in a format that is easy to convert into a PDF this is another option and is very straight forward. Create your data in an office type programme such as excel and save the data in a pdf format, create a link to the document and then with the hyperlink tool choose the “Link to file” option and navigate to the file. Once this is done Muse will upload the file with the site.

Option Three: Embed the data using Google Drive and Muse

That was easy but whats next? Embed the data. This is easy but has a few more steps. One of the best and easiest ways to do this is with Google spreadsheets. You will need a free gmail/google drive account.

  1. Login and goto your drive. 
  2. Upload your spreadsheet (you may need to restyle some of the content).
  3. Click file and publish to the web, choose your settings and then click “Start Publishing”.
  4. In the “Get Link” and choose the HTML to embed option.
  5. Grab the code and copy and paste into Muse.

This is an ok way of adding data and at least it is updatedble via google drive. You can place content over the heading and elements you want to hide but you are restricted to showing data, there is no search, for example, so not much use for say a directory or blog.

Option Four: Using Adobe Business Catalyst and Muse

The last option is at the same time the most flexible but also the most difficult to implement.

Using Business Catalyst as your data source. First of why Business Catalyst? If you have never used the system take a look at it here it is not a hosting service but rather a fully featured online business system that handles everything from blogs to ecommerce, newsletters to custom databased web apps. There is truly nothing like it on the market and we think it has great potential when used with Muse.

To get you started we have templates that use the blogging module or you can use our blogging module widget in your own designs (see this article for more).

Business Catalyst can also create custom web apps that you control what data can be placed in them from text, images to locations and multiple choice options. The data can then be included onto your pages using list and details views. You can set up secure login areas, forums, calendar events and more.

If you are looking to build a completely custom data source to use with Muse this is the best option.

What next?

We would love to here what your thoughts are and especially if you would like to see museGrid widgets and tutorials that help you add dynamic data to your client websites?