In regards to your first question, you'd think that the Pages panel fly-out menu might have a command that would allow you to disengage a selected page from the Master, but it doesn't seem to. However, if you select the page and go into its Layers panel, you can view the Master Page Layer at the bottom to the stack. You can adjust the visibility of that layer or its components, or go into the Layers panel fly-out menu and choose Remove Master Page Layer.
As for the second question, I don't believe it's possible for a Master page to "adapt to its content". I'm guessing by that you mean, to respond fluidly to other elements on the page, whether they're lengthy or brief, etc. That's a property of web pages, where all the content is "in flow". But Fireworks uses a different system.
I'm still new to the Pages feature myself, but have you tried the "Share Layer" options in the Layers panel fly-out menu? These might offer some of the benefits of the Master page feature, but with more flexibility. Symbols are also something to consider when you want to repeat elements within a document.
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Come to think of it, in the parlance of web design, Fireworks is based on an "absolute positioning" model: Every object is independent of the other, positioned in reference to coordinates on the canvas, and assigned its own z-index. (That's compared to "static" HTML, where everything is "in flow", as I mentioned.)
Sorry that's a bit of a tangent, but I thought it was interesting.
If you don't want a Master Page to show on a particular page, it's really easy to do. Just scroll down the layers panel for that page until you get to the Master Page Layer and click the eye to hide it.
Also instead of using a Master Page, you can use the "Share Layer to Pages" feature and choose particular Pages for any layer for more flexibility.
Thanks for replies groove25 and Daryl Barnes. One would expect Fireworks to have fluid layout capabilities since that's how the web works. It's unfortunate. I guess the best option now is to only use the header as a master page, since it is in the upper most part of the site, it doesn't need to reposition. Adaptable parts of the body and the entire footer still need to be copy+pasted and repositioned by hand though.
It is indeed interesting to understand how things work, thanks for that groove25. I guess the Fireworks developing team could give us the option to anchor a particular layer on an editable region. That way, the layers we select would position themselves relatively. You hear that Adobe?
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Fireworks does such a variety of stuff... I really think of it as a graphics editor that happens to export to HTML. And my impression is that Pages and Master Pages were designed to improve its prototyping capabilities, but not necessarily to create entire websites, in a finished form. For that, I think its creators would expect you to export your work into Dreamweaver, and take advantage of the features that you're missing (like templates with editable regions, library items, etc.).
Still, it's something to think about, and good to brainstorm new concepts. I wonder how Adobe Muse handles these issues... Have you tried it?
Incidentally, both of Daryl's suggestions were included in my original response, plus a few other ideas. (For instance, I'd suggest defining the footer as a symbol, instead of copying and pasting.) Just sayin'.
After determining the site's goals, content and information architecture, the best way to design a web site is visually because (a) web sites are mainly graphical user interfaces and (b) our visual perception is much more accurate than imagining how the site will look like from code. That's why I use Fireworks to build entire web sites graphically and only then code them. That's how I've always thought of Fireworks.
I guess it would be expected for me to bring all my graphics into Dreamweaver and start the work from there, but the truth is that designing a web site is anything but linear. To design a good web site we need to consider a number of things: typography, positioning, color balance, prominence, usability and accessibility, just to name a few. Often we adjust the already made elements based on the new element we are designing. For every little change on the layout, we would need to export the graphics from Fireworks and re-import them into Dreamweaver. It's more work than anyone would care to do That's why I think Fireworks should provide a fluid layout capability But oh well, I guess we'll need to wait for Adobe's resolution.
By the way, I just noticed the forum's status system and I want to select your first response as correct, but nothing happends when I click on "correct".
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As far as the footer goes, I could see Adobe extending the Master Page functionality to allow positioning of an item in relation to the bottom of the canvas, instead of just the top left. (Although that's suggestive of absolute positioning, which raises questions about HTML export.) The idea of "anchoring" one component to another is an interesting one, too. For some reason, I can almost imagine that being integrated through the use of symbols—i.e., being able to anchor a symbol to a text box, or something.
Are you imagining a fluid-length canvas?
This is Adobe's official feature request submission form: https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/mmform/index.cfm?name=wishform
Incidentally, are you exporting as HTML & CSS from Fireworks, or just creating the visual design?
Positioning an item in relation to the bottom is an interesting feature, although I believe that when exporting to HTML & CSS, the positions would have to either be calculated in relation to the item above it or to the top, because HTML & CSS can't position things in relation to the bottom of the page, only the top and sides. The relative positioning feature would be good for both situations though. And it could even export editable regions to Dreamweaver
I'm just creating the visual design and exporting the slices. I then build the whole layout by hand so I can control complex animations to the pixel level and it's optimization. Some animations are too complex for Fireworks to handle and some gradients can be coded with simple CSS, dispensing the need for an extra image and speeding up loading times, for example.
Thank you for the feature request link, I did submit that feature with a few improvements