Adobe Fireworks 9 Beta

Posted on November 16, 2006

adobe + fireworks logo

Fireworks lives! Although everyone thought it would simply be swept under the carpet by Adobe after the Macromedia acquisition.

According to this Adobe Edge article, version nine of Fireworks is already in private beta.

There are a couple of things I love about Fireworks that it would have been a shame to see disappear, and it looks as if Adobe in their wisdom has realised this, and improved on them.

Symbols

Similar to library items in Flash or Freehand, and now smart objects in Photoshop. Normal symbols are great for things like icons and arrows, but button symbols are really useful, allowing you to edit the button text within an instance of the symbol from the attributes palette.

Make a row of ten menu items in Photoshop, and then decide to change the font, move the text 1px to the left, and add an arrow on the right hand side. Repetitive work in Photoshop, but a breeze with Fireworks button symbols.

Button symbols also contain and export the button states ("up", "over", "down", "over while down"). However I can't remember the last time I used .gifs and javascript rollovers for navigation; these days it's all CSS + HTML Text, and rightly so. Which means that I now use button symbols exclusively for elements that aren't buttons, like menu headings, because I have the ability to edit the text within an instance. The only problem is that Fireworks always wants to export the symbol as an image, when I really want to style the button in CSS.

Anyway, it looks as if all symbols in Fireworks 9 are going to have editable attributes. This means that the designer can change not only the text contained within a symbol, but the colour of that text, or the background, or turn a layer on/off... Great stuff!

Oh, and intelligent scaling, probably like the grid based scaling in Flash - essential for those Web 2.0 Rounded Corners®.

Page based layouting

Designing websites in Photoshop, it always feels to me that I'm using the wrong tool for the job, although Adobe has in recent versions tried to be more accomodating to web designers. Photoshop is, as the name implies, a great tool for image manipulation, but (imho) not for designing websites. Websites are by nature multi-page. Imagine designing a brochure in a Quark or In-Design that only allowed one page (I won't get into Freehand vs. Illustrator), using layers or folders to hold the individual pages. And when that account manager wants a PDF to send to the client, you have to turn all those layers on and off, export a PNG, and build a multi-page PDF. Inconceivable!

Rolf, forced into Fireworks by having to work on my layouts, came up with the technique of using frames to simulate pages. Frames were intended by Macromedia for producing animated gifs. It's possible to "share" layers across frames (meaning changes in that layer will be made across all frames), which gives you something close to master pages. Things that stay the same across the layout (logo, main navigation) are put in a shared layer.

Soon to be a thing of the past:

With hierarchical web and layer organization, page-based layout, and click-through HTML mock-up support — just to name a few features — this new version of Fireworks promises to streamline the entire prototyping process while minimizing thro-away effort.

Wireframing

Woohoo! Multi-page! I'm currently using Freehand for wireframing, because of it's support for multiple pages, master pages, styles (normal text to text input with one click) and symbols. I've experimented with using HTML for wireframes, but found it to be to slow. I like to be able to push things around the page easily. And export a PDF (or print all pages) at the press of a button.

"wire frames" are web page design drafts that set out with a certain degree of precision, the elements that will be on page, their position and size, without getting into the actual graphic, identity and information design issues including use of colours, fonts and logotype.

For me, wireframes are much less about size and position than about what information the user is presented with, what navigation possibilities exist. More the "what" than the "where" and "how". Maybe a topic for another day...

Whatever. Software for wireframing remains a tricky issue. Mayby Fireworks 9 will prove to be a useful tool.

Workflow integration

Fireworks is such a strong tool for optimizing graphical content for the web, but the truth is that many graphic designers are more comfortable with their primary design tools — Illustrator and Photoshop. With Fireworks 9, these designers can use those tools and quickly move that content into Fireworks for optimization

What we all expected from Adobe. Taking a file from one Adobe program into another has always been easy, especially compared to the Macromedia experience. Fireworks 9 will be able to open PSDs and AIs, and save them again. No mention of Image Ready, I notice... (thank God).

Search & Replace

fireworks_searchreplace.gif
Fireworks find palette

Actually an old feature, but a killer one, especially if you're trying out different colour combinations: the ability to search and replace colours in all attributes (stroke, fill, effects), either in a selection, the whole document, or #several documents#. You can also replace fonts and text (with regex support!).

← It's so great I've even included a screenshot!

 

Bitmap editing

Is crap in Fireworks. It's really bad (and slow) at things like masks. Leave it to Photoshop. What I would like to see would be bitmap "smart objects" in Fireworks - double-click to edit in Photoshop.

Phew. Turned into a long entry. Stéphane likes Fireworks too. That makes two of us.



Comments (24)

Mike Rohde said

Thanks for the post! I too love Fireworks for web design layouts for many of the same reasons, so I'm very pleased by this news.

It would be wonderful to have tight integration between Fireworks, Illustrator and Photoshop... can't wait to see how tight it'll be! :-)

Posted by: Mike Rohde at December 8, 2006 04:55 PM .

Paul Mayne said

Thanks for the update on Fireworks. My #1 feature request is performance upgrade. I run Fireworks on the fastest machines you can buy and it still drives me nuts when I get more then 5 Frames and 60+ layers - it's SO SLOW.

There are also annoying Text box bugs I hope they fix.

Posted by: Paul Mayne at December 8, 2006 05:58 PM .

Samiq said

Ping back from samiqbits.blogspot.com:

The guys over Brand Spanking New have put a good post over some of the new and existing features and the way they work in the new version and how they have evolved from previous versions, go check it.

Posted by: Samiq at December 20, 2006 07:03 PM .

Brian said

I've started using OmniGraffle Pro for mocking up web applications. It's got master pages and lots of other cool features. Unfortunately, it's really not meant for exporting stuff to the web, so it means redoing stuff in photoshop. But for pushing stuff around you can't beat it. Sounds like FW9 has the best of both worlds: layout and optimization; can't wait to try it.

Posted by: Brian at January 23, 2007 11:23 PM .

bsn said

Hi Brian. I'm a big OmniGraffle fan aswell. I recently upgraded to the Pro version, and the masterpages are a real bonus!

Posted by: bsn at January 24, 2007 09:49 AM .

bobo said

I don't like how the new Fireworks 9 exports XMP data along with every graphic that you export. A regular gif file that's about 1kb turns out to be 5kb. I'm very size conscious :)

I tried exporting an animated gif, the size calculator estimated it to be 100k but the exported file turned out to be 200k.

I don't really care for the XMP data.

Posted by: bobo at January 24, 2007 05:37 PM .

Robin said

I would like to see FW9 cater more towards printing. More file ouput options, larger canvas sizing for signage like Adobe photoshop, and cmyk. I used fireworks
on a day 2 day basis to create stunning media graphics and for print! Alot of designers don't use fireworks and they only think its a web based program. I love
the program, I can't use it enough...

R&R Dezigns

Posted by: Robin at January 30, 2007 01:29 AM .

bsn said

Hi Robin,

Interesting. I've never considered using Fireworks for print work. I've just noticed that you can set the DPI to anything other than 72! I've been using Fireworks since its inception, and I don't think that I've ever used the "print" menu option either.

With seamless PDF integration (it is Adobe, after all), you should be one step closer, but I wouldn't hold my breath for CMYK.

Tim.

Posted by: bsn at January 30, 2007 07:56 AM .

CreativeComponent said

I LOVE THIS NEWS. I'm the only local designer I know who uses Fireworks. People look at me like I'm an alien for suggesting FW over PS for page layout, until they see it {me} in action.

I hope sooooo badly that they have an XHTML export. Wouldn't that rock!?

Posted by: CreativeComponent at January 30, 2007 10:03 PM .

Mark said

Just found this on Google. Am too rejoicing regarding that it's not dead.

Posted by: Mark at January 31, 2007 04:46 PM .

bsn said

@Mark

Nice domain name.

Posted by: bsn at February 1, 2007 09:07 AM .

Borger said

Hello,

I was thinking about to buy fireworks8. Now I saw fireworks 9 is coming so I want to buy the newest version... now my question: does anyone have an idea when fireworks 9 is released and what price can it be.

Regards,

Borger

Posted by: Borger at February 5, 2007 03:33 PM .

Jay said

Thanks for the post (via Google). I've been doing all my design in Fireworks since 1.0 -- opening it for the first time, I said to myself "my god, it's software made just for me." I've been on tenterhooks waiting to hear if it'd be dumped (as Macromedia never really pushed FW very hard), and I'm thrilled that they're not only continuing it, but developing it. Rock!

Posted by: Jay at February 6, 2007 05:11 PM .

Guti said

Hope it will support natively Vista, since the current version 8 switches the OS to non-aero theme. No updates available yet for fixing the problem.

Also will be nice to have a pure x64 version!

Posted by: Guti at February 19, 2007 10:47 PM .

kruno said

GREAT !
We use it daily for the various web jobs about picture handling etc.

Posted by: kruno at February 27, 2007 03:54 PM .

Ben said

Very exciting to hear that Fireworks will live to see another version. I constantly use frames and layer sharing to mock-up various pages, so it's great to see that this will be further developed.

Posted by: Ben at March 6, 2007 07:05 AM .

greeaz said

YEAH!!! :-) What about the release date, any ideas?

Posted by: greeaz at March 9, 2007 07:29 PM .

Zaman khan said

SO great,

I was waiting for new version from Adobe, feel nice to hear that we will see new updated Adobefireworks version9 soon.
Thanks a lot,
Zaman khan

Posted by: Zaman khan at March 10, 2007 03:56 PM .

Borger said

"Language Version AvailabilityEnglish language version is expected to ship by end April 2007.

Your credit card will be processed when product is shipped."

Finaly I know when we can buy FIREWORKS 9, i'm so happy that I finaly know the great news.
on www.adobe.com you can see the information about it, and buy it already. :) now I don't need to buy fireworks 8 anymore and i can buy fireworks 9:)

Regards,

H. Borger

Posted by: Borger at March 30, 2007 02:20 PM .

theROC said

I love FW over photoshop execpt when it come to getting brushes.I am a designer myself and a web developer so trust me thank the LORD is not over for FW.

Posted by: theROC at April 4, 2007 12:38 PM .

apricotStudios said

I'm so please Fireworks has survived the inevitable reshuffle at Adobe - it's the one design tool I really can't live without!

Posted by: apricotStudios at April 11, 2007 03:43 PM .

WiiMan said

Will Photoshop brushes work with Fireworks?I need some fireworks brushes

Posted by: WiiMan at April 15, 2007 04:19 AM .

Valiumer said

Very good site. You are doing a great job. Please keep it up!

Posted by: Valiumer at June 11, 2007 11:56 PM .

ross said

m8 how dae u get a fukin free trail ae this

Posted by: ross at September 13, 2007 09:13 PM .