Although a cursory glance at the dictionary reveals that Flux means 'fluidity', other synonyms include 'unsteadiness' and 'yo-yoing', and those are perhaps more appropriate for this newcomer to the web-design scene.

Aiming to take its place alongside iWeb and Freeway Express, Flux offers a drag-and-drop interface for creating web pages. Sadly, although it offers some interesting and fairly original ideas, the execution in the current version is lacking.

Handy features

Flux comes with several templates, which are of variable quality. For creating basic websites from scratch, most users will find Flux straightforward to use, especially after watching the online screencasts. Elements such as page divisions, media and text, are added to web pages via a New Element menu, and can be dragged around at will.

Usefully, terminology for the various elements is explained inline, under each menu item. Also, Flux offers a number of handy built-in image effects, although we found that you have to be careful regarding the order in which effects are added, otherwise strange things happen, such as drop shadows being applied to the glow around an image, rather than to the image itself.

Frustrating inflexibility

And now for the bad news. The most damning aspect of Flux is, ironically, its inflexibility. Importing existing sites proved to be a nightmare. Flux has no commands for doing this in an automated fashion, so we had to create a new blank project and dump files into the folder Flux created in Finder, or drag files from Finder to Flux's Site Manager.

But even after doing this, Flux either made a hash of displaying existing sites (all of which comprised valid code and worked fine in every currently shipping browser), or found (non-existent) problems in the code, aimed to fix them, and ended up trashing both the mark-up and the layout.

For some reason, switching templates doesn't appear to be possible. We also found it bizarre that it's seemingly not possible to do a quick edit of a single web page - instead, Flux forces you to create a new project. And once you are editing, things aren't always rosy: it's easy to nudge objects by mistake, and elements positioned in a relative fashion throw up an error message if you move the mouse cursor at all while clicking on them.

Code output could also be better, although Flux isn't significantly worse than most comparable tools in littering mark-up with dodgy code, and as a concessionary measure, it at least offers a handy split-pane view, enabling those knowledgeable in hand-coding to make under-the-hood adjustments.

Flux's potential

The final nail in the coffin is the general performance: on a Mac Pro that's happy running Adobe CS3, it's not a good sign when a piece of software like Flux hangs or runs slowly. But perhaps the most galling aspect of Flux is that it does have the potential to make a mark.

Flux has a mostly great interface. Its sidebar is clear and useful for accessing page elements and stylesheet rules, and the on-screen markers in the main page view that define element relationships work brilliantly.

Also, the built-in resolution guides are an interesting idea (although they show the lack of polish evident elsewhere in the app, in that they don't centre if the website does, thereby making them only useful for left-aligned websites). It could be great but Flux needs more work.