11 Replies Latest reply on Feb 18, 2008 8:08 AM by H.A.S.

    Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?

    H.A.S.
      Hello. Our small company is trying out the trial version of dreamweaver as we plan on purchasing a product to create our own website. Anyway, I notice that there are many programs that you can use to make website creation easier such as photoshop and flash. Fireworks has me a little confused. I watched some video tutorials on it but haven't figured out what it actually does. It seems more like a middleman than anything. Could someone explain it to this newbie? Also, what advice do you have for someone just starting out with these products to learn from without having to take a class?
        • 1. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
          Level 7
          Fireworks is similar to Photoshop in that it is a graphics editing
          program. Use it, like Photoshop, to edit images or create graphics.
          Photoshop and Fireworks each have unique strengths. Photoshop is more
          the industry standard and is great for digital photography, image
          surgery, creating photo-realistic computer art, etc... Fireworks excels
          in web graphics with features such as master pages, intelligent scaling,
          and AutoShapes. Both will create HTML code for you - but you shouldn't
          use them to create web pages. As they are graphics editors, that is
          where their strength lies. Use them to create "site assets" - things you
          will include on your web page - but use Dreamweaver to create the actual
          pages.

          Dreamweaver will likely cause you nothing but frustration if you don't
          have a foundation in basic web technologies such as HTML, XHTML, and
          CSS. You need to take a few tutorials on HTML/XHTML/CSS to effectively
          use DW. Start at www.w3schools.com and work through their free tutorials.

          --
          Alec
          Adobe Community Expert
          • 2. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
            abeall Level 3
            Especially for a small business without a lot of previous experience in design tools, Fireworks is an ideal choice. The marketing of Fireworks has been a little confusing, but here's the deal:

            Fireworks was designed to streamline the process of web design by combining all the design tasks needed: Bitmap editing (good for working with photographs and imagery), vector editing (great for working with layouts and graphical icons), web image optimization, and multi-page documents.

            Fireworks is not a middle man, but what you notice is that it has the core toolset of many other applications, including Photoshop, Illustrator, FreeHand, and ImageReady. In this nature, it is extremely versatile and understands all those applications to certain extents, so it's the only one that can really ride between them all. Fireworks is completely unique in its hybrid nature, and also unique in its singular focus on web design.

            All applications are subject to opinions and preferences, but Fireworks is one of the few applications (actually the only application that I can think of) that I suggest to anyone who is doing web design with a high level of confidence that they'll immediately see the benefit. In other words, try it, you'll most likely find that it's easier to use than other applications, much more flexible, and you get results fast -- which, when time equals money (especially in this field) it really is a benefit to use over other applications.

            In summary: Fireworks is for web design. You will benefit from using it if you are doing web design.
            • 3. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
              abeall Level 3
              As far as how to learn applications without taking classes, the best way is to use the applications.

              The fastest way to learn, in my opinion, is to learn directly from someone who has experience. That's what these forums are for.

              BTW, here's my summary of the applications you mentioned:

              Photoshop - Design tool - Best for print, acceptable for web - Use for photograph and digital painting/imagery

              Illustrator - Design tool - Best for print, somewhat acceptable for web - Use for vector work only, which can include graphical icons and layouts

              Fireworks - Design tool - Specifically for web - Use for web photo and imagery editing, and web vector work, including graphical icons, layouts, interfaces, etc. Also, unlike Photoshop or Illustrator, Fireworks supports multiple pages and other features that are specifically designed to help when creating web designs

              Dreamweaver - HTML/CSS Coding tool - Web only - After the design is complete, use this tool to actually make the HTML/CSS/JavaScript/Code to actually create the website.

              Flash - Web Motion Graphics and Web Interactive tool - Mostly for web, some CD or desktop - Use to create motion graphics and animation, and really rich/advanced interaction on a website.

              The best thing to start out with is Fireworks+Dreamweaver. Add in Flash later.
              • 4. Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                H.A.S. Level 1
                Thanks for the great advice! So fireworks is like a web acceptable version of photoshop? They did seem to have many similarities which is what confused me.
                As for actually knowing coding for Dreamweaver, I am pretty good with HTML and have what I think is a base level understanding of CSS. I can read and understand coding from page sources as well as what Dreamweaver writes. I have actually found myself switching over to the coding half often since I haven't quite figured out all the dreamweaver tools.
                Now here is another question: In the tutorials I have watched I have seen the whole background/buttons/images of a webpage (Aquo is the example) in fireworks. I thought that to create that composition you should use Dreamweaver to structure the images and buttons in the correct places with tables? Am I going about this the wrong way?
                Once again, I appreciate everyone's advice.
                • 5. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                  abeall Level 3
                  > Now here is another question: In the tutorials I have watched I have seen the whole background/buttons/images of a
                  > webpage (Aquo is the example) in fireworks. I thought that to create that composition you should use Dreamweaver
                  > to structure the images and buttons in the correct places with tables? Am I going about this the wrong way?

                  That's a good question. Fireworks can generate HTML and CSS code, but it's not intended final deployment. It's more or a less a preview: one of the nice things about Fireworks is since you are creating multiple pages, you can easily put some hotspots (links) in your design, and export the whole thing as a "prototype" -- basically a series of mockups that the client can click through and really get a good feel of the user flow.

                  So when you see what looks like the entire website in Fireworks, what you see is the entire design, as essentially a preview. It's a lot easier to change the design at this stage than after you've built it in Dreamweaver.

                  But when it comes to making the final deployment HTML and CSS, you should do that by hand in Dreamweaver (when I say "by hand" I'm including Dreamweaver's design view). You use images exported from Fireworks, but the code is best made in Dreamweaver.
                  • 6. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                    H.A.S. Level 1
                    Oh, that makes a whole lot of sense! You put the design together in Fireworks first then once satisfied move all the images into Dreamweaver in the same way only with final coding involved. Thanks for all the good advice and information. I am definitely less confused.
                    • 7. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                      Level 7
                      H.A.S. wrote:
                      > Thanks for the great advice! So fireworks is like a web acceptable version of
                      > photoshop?

                      Hmmm... no.

                      Fireworks is actually like Illustrator and Photoshop rolled up into one
                      in addition to some unique functionality. Furthermore, by its objects
                      based nature, Fireworks is a lot more akin to Illustrator than to
                      Photoshop although it does offer a lot of Photoshop-like bitmap editing
                      tools. Fireworks' main selection tools for example are pointer arrows
                      like all vector applications (Illustrator, InDesign, FreeHand,
                      CorelDraw, etc). Photoshop is primarily a raster or bitmap based tool
                      and its workflow reflects that.

                      I would add that, to me and many other designers, Photoshop is very good
                      at doing what its name implies: editing photographic images. But many
                      people rightfully feel its a terrible design and layout tool. In that
                      respect, *any* vector based graphic apps like Illustrator, InDesign and
                      of course Fireworks are much easier to work with because of the much
                      greater flexibility and speed of a vector based workflow. For example,
                      if I want to place a button exactly 40 pixels from the top and 10 pixels
                      from the left of the canvas (a very simple and common kind of task), you
                      just enter these numbers in the Property Inspector after selecting the
                      button or object with the pointer tool. You can also see or read the
                      size of any object in the same P.I. simply by selecting it and reading
                      the values (one click). Both those very simple actions are less than
                      obvious to perform in Photoshop and require a lot more clicks... That's
                      one of the reasons I feel Photoshop as long being misused as a design
                      application when it's really not its strength. If Fireworks didn't
                      exist, I would probably design Web sites in Illustrator, not Photoshop.

                      For a more detailed review of what Fireworks is and where it stands, you
                      could read the following article which I wrote before Adobe acquired
                      Macromedia:

                      http://www.adobe.com/devnet/fireworks/articles/why_fireworks.html

                      --
                      Stéphane Bergeron
                      reach:connect:communicate
                      www.webfocusdesign.com
                      blog:tutorials:articles:gallery
                      www.pixelyzed.com
                      • 8. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                        H.A.S. Level 1
                        Thank you for the informative article. It filled in a many of the holes in my understanding of the product.
                        If possible, can you recommend an article/site/other that will help me get started in figuring out web design with fireworks? I've watched most or all of the videos on Adobe but still find the program a bit mysterious.
                        • 9. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                          Level 7
                          H.A.S. wrote:
                          > Thank you for the informative article. It filled in a many of the holes in my
                          > understanding of the product.
                          > If possible, can you recommend an article/site/other that will help me get
                          > started in figuring out web design with fireworks? I've watched most or all of
                          > the videos on Adobe but still find the program a bit mysterious.

                          I really couldn't say as I have been using Fireworks for several years
                          now and learned it mostly through using it. Jim Babbage could certainly
                          point you to some tutorials on the Community MX site but only a few of
                          them are free. I have written a second article/tutorial for Macromedia
                          dealing with the specific but common task or "removing backgrounds" from
                          bitmap images but using a different and more efficient technique than
                          you would use in Photoshop for example. You can find it here:

                          http://www.adobe.com/devnet/fireworks/articles/removing_backgrounds.html

                          Beyond that, I don't know of any current books and there were few for
                          Fireworks to begin with. Even Adobe Press has not deemed Fireworks
                          important enough to create either a "Classroom in a Book" or "Training
                          from the Source" book for it...

                          I just checked Amazon (I hadn't looked in a while), and it seems both
                          Jim and Tom Green have books out for FWCS3. Look for them here:

                          http://tinyurl.com/yvd734

                          That url goes here:

                          http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/103-8073578-9959834?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&fie ld-keywords=Fireworks+CS3&x=14&y=22

                          HTH!

                          --
                          Stéphane Bergeron
                          reach : connect : communicate
                          http://www.webfocusdesign.com
                          blog : tutorials : articles : gallery
                          http://www.pixelyzed.com
                          • 10. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                            Level 7
                            H.A.S. wrote:
                            > Thank you for the informative article. It filled in a many of the holes in my
                            > understanding of the product.
                            > If possible, can you recommend an article/site/other that will help me get
                            > started in figuring out web design with fireworks? I've watched most or all of
                            > the videos on Adobe but still find the program a bit mysterious.
                            >
                            >
                            Here's a link to the free content on CMX:

                            http://www.communitymx.com/free.cfm

                            and this link may also help. It's a free article on creating your own
                            custom Fireworks course on CMX. Basically, it lists almost everything we
                            have.

                            http://www.communitymx.com/abstract.cfm?cid=ECAAF

                            I say almost because I'm in the midst of updating it . . .

                            I can't believe I wrote that one a year ago. Yes definitely time for an
                            update.

                            --
                            Jim Babbage - .:Community MX:. & .:Adobe Community Expert:.
                            http://www.communityMX.com/
                            CommunityMX - Free Resources:
                            http://www.communitymx.com/free.cfm
                            ---
                            .:Adobe Community Expert for Fireworks:.
                            Adobe Community Expert
                            http://tinyurl.com/2a7dyp
                            ---
                            See my work on Flickr
                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/jim_babbage/
                            • 11. Re: Confusion - Do I need Fireworks?
                              H.A.S. Level 1
                              Thanks for the advice! I will take a look at the content provided.