4 Replies Latest reply on May 15, 2008 7:02 PM by abeall

    Fireworks/Flash Integration Not Useful

    DaveCon Level 1
      I’ve begun experimenting with Fireworks and the vaunted integration between FW & Flash seems to be mostly hype. (I’m speaking of the big deal Adobe makes about it in the CS3 Video Workshop.) So far I’m finding that the limitations of what can be transported through round-trips between the two apps render the purported integration largely useless.

      Some of the most useful effects, like those commonly applied in the provided Styles, don’t survive the import into Flash. E.g., for Plastic Button 009 the Hue/Saturation filter doesn’t make it into Flash. Without the HS filter, you don’t get any color in Flash.

      And even when the needed visual properties do make it intact, the update mechanism doesn’t seem to work. For example, I created a new FW file, drew a rounded rectangle and applied the Chrome Reflective 006 Style and saved the file. I imported it into the Flash library choosing the maintain appearance options. I then went back into FW and applied the Chrome Misc 003 style and saved. Then, in Flash I right-clicked on the bitmap in the library and chose Update but when I clicked the Update button it just said 0 of 1 items updated and displayed a little question mark. I’ve had similar problems importing PSD files/layers into Flash and trying to update.

      I tried another test, this time choosing the “keep all paths editable” option when importing into Flash. However, this lost some of the desired effects and didn’t even provide the option to update (grayed out).

      So, as far as I can tell, I have to create each image as a separate file in FW and then just import it as a regular GIF or JPEG into Flash. FW can still be useful as it provides some nice styles, gradients, textures and other features that can help in creating web graphics. But integration with Flash seems to be all but non-existent. Am I missing something??

      David Salahi
        • 1. Fireworks/Flash Integration Not Useful
          abeall Level 3
          I love Fireworks + Flash integration, it's what originally got me using Fireworks, actually. But there are some bumps that you need to be familiar with, as you've found. It also takes some understanding of the Flash platform and how it differs from the freedoms you get in Fireworks, so hopefully I can help there:

          Filters - Yep, Flash only supports a small subset of filters. This might change in the future with the announcement of Hydra/Pixel Bender, which is really exciting, but for now you are stuck with only a few filters in Flash. Open up Flash and get familiar with them. And be glad we aren't having this conversation a few version ago, when there were no filters at all! Once you are familiar with the filters and blendmodes that Flash has, when you are working in Fireworks and intend to go to Flash, remember what filters you can use. The rest will have to be avoided or flattened before importing into Flash. Yes, it's technology limiting your creative freedom, I hate that, but if you understand the limits you can still push it very far. BTW, Hue/Saturation actually does make it from FW to FL for me.

          The Update option is really intended for Bitmaps linked to an external bitmap image file, like JPGs or GIFs. When you went to update your bitmap you probably noticed that the Path field was blank -- this is because Flash doesn't have it linked to an image file, and it can't pull it out of a PNG source file. That would be a really nice feature, and one I've requested: http://adobe.com/go/wish/

          When you choose "keep all paths editable" then all filters and effects you used which are not supported in Flash are stripped out. There are other features which Fireworks has that Flash does not, like pattern/texture fills, some of the gradients, etc. They all don't exist in Flash so they don't come through. Again this all comes back to understanding what Flash can do, and making sure your Fireworks design is compatible.

          Sounds like you had a jarring experience trying to integrate between FW and Flash, but the problem is understanding the huge difference between what you get on Flash's canvas and Firework's canvas. Flash is generally limited. The reason Flash is limited is because it's a runtime canvas optimized for web. When you make something in Fireworks you have unlimited freedom because in the end you'll just export to a static pixel image. But in Flash, you are dealing with a whole different beast -- interaction. The Flash canvas is rendered at runtime... you can think of the Flash Player as fulfilling the role of Fireworks running in the browser, so of course it has to be in a much smaller scale.

          Anyway, once you get used to how Flash works and how that differs from Fireworks, integration will make a lot more sense. The way you describe of exporting each graphic/layer as a separate JPG and importing is basically the way it used to have to be done with Photoshop, but I definitely recommend trying to get familiar with how Flash works and getting a hang of the design to import process of Fireworks to Flash.

          In case it helps, here's my workflow of Fireworks to Flash (I create a lot of Flash content so this is very battle tested for me):
          1) Design in Fireworks, with both knowledge of what Flash can do, and a bit of reckless abandon because I'm a designer, I'll make it look the way I want even if it takes extra work in Flash ;)
          2) Once the design is final, I create a duplicate Fireworks page
          3) I go through my design and make it as Flash compatible as possible. This means flattening anything that needs to be flattened, sometimes converting text to paths, redoing some graphics in vector, etc
          4) Import into Flash
          5) Cleanup anything that didn't come through right. At this point it's just small stuff, like dotted strokes come through solid, so I have to make them dotted again
          6) Animate or rig up with ActionScript
          7) For small changes, I make my change in Fireworks, then I copy/paste only the changed elements back into Flash and replace them

          Hope that helps. Good luck!
          • 2. Re: Fireworks/Flash Integration Not Useful
            heathrowe Most Valuable Participant
            Hi David, indeed the relationship between the two is not perfect, but I think the roundtripping between the two has improved over the years.

            You certainly hit on some of the clear cut limitations.

            One of the notable ones is outlined in the Help file:
            Note: When Fireworks graphics are imported or copied and pasted into Flash, some attributes are lost, such as Live Filters and textures. You cannot import or copy and paste a contour gradient effect from Fireworks into a Flash document. In addition, Flash supports only solid fills, gradient fills, and basic strokes.

            Scour through the rest of the Working with Flash section here
            http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Fireworks/9.0/help.html?content=frw_other_apps_oa_23.html for full details and limitations.

            • 3. Re: Fireworks/Flash Integration Not Useful
              DaveCon Level 1
              Aaron & Darrell,
              Thanks for the detailed replies. It’s reassuring to know I haven’t missed anything obvious although disheartening to learn that there are so many limitations. I do feel that Adobe has been a bit disingenuous in touting the Flash integration feature when it comes with so many restrictions. For example, the help page you referenced, Darrell, says:


              “Fireworks integrates well with Flash. You can easily import, copy and paste, or export Fireworks vectors, bitmaps, animations, and multi-state button graphics for use in Flash. Launch-and-edit functionality also makes it easy to edit Fireworks graphics from within Flash.
              Note: The Flash HTML style does not support pop-up menu code. Fireworks button behaviors and other types of interactivity are not imported into Flash.”

              The note makes no mention of all the filters and other effects that also don’t work. And the Adobe Video Workshop tutorial on Flash integration sings a similar song.

              Well, at least, the guidance you’ve provided will save me some time.

              The situation with the Hue/Saturation filter is puzzling. I’ve applied the Plastic Button 009 Style to an object in FW and then imported to Flash but the object in Flash appears only as grayscale. It’s the HS filter that imparts the color to the object in FW so I was assuming that the filter didn’t come in. But, upon closer inspection, I see that it has been converted to an Adjust Color filter in Flash with the same Hue & Saturation values as the HS filter had in Flash. Yet, there is no color on the imported MovieClip. Changing the HS values in Flash has no effect on adding color.

              I’ve discovered some more things that are puzzling as well. I’ve seen different behaviors on objects imported to the library as opposed to the stage. Some of the effects get lost when importing to the library but are kept when importing to the stage.

              The option to Edit in Fireworks (on a context menu) shown in the Video Workshop lesson never appears for me.

              And 9-slice scaling isn’t working for me when importing symbols from FW into Flash. I can see the slice guides in their correct locations inside the movie clip in Flash but when I scale it using the width or scaleX property, the left/right end parts are stretched even though they shouldn’t be. But the docs say it works, so maybe I’m doing something wrong. Although it’s hard to see what that could be.

              I hate to be so negative. Adobe/Macromedia has accomplished some very impressive results in Flash & Fireworks specifically and the whole CS3 suite more generally. But I don’t think their hype matches the actuality in the case of Flash/Fireworks integration. This is one area that needs serious overhauling. (Another is the Flash debugger, but don’t get me started on that. )

              • 4. Re: Fireworks/Flash Integration Not Useful
                abeall Level 3
                Yeah, it is a balance between expectations and actual capabilities, and marketing does tend to highlight the good things without trumpeting the limitations. But the way I see it here is that the real limitation is not the "integration" as much as it's just the Flash Player technology, which is limited for optimization and performance reasons. Think of the GIF file format which has a 256 color limitation -- I don't get upset when my 32bit Fireworks PNG file exports to GIF with banding and limited colors, but that's because I know GIF only has 256 colors and I don't expect anything else. It's a limitation of what the GIF file format supports, with valid (although maybe obsolete now) reasons. Likewise, Flash is an environment with many limitations, though it has come leaps and bounts (the day Flash 8 introduced filters and blendmodes was the happiest day in Flash history for me!) But all that doesn't help when you read the marketing blurb and your expectation becomes that Flash can do everything Fireworks can and it all works perfectly. The reality is you *can* easily copy/paste/import vectors, bitmaps, symbols, etc... just not *all* vectors, bitmaps, symbols -- only the ones Flash actually supports. ;)

                So back to some of the specifics you mentioned just now:

                "The situation with the Hue/Saturation filter is puzzling."
                The problem is that while Flash has a similar filter that does many of the same things as Hue/Saturation, this filter lacks the "colorize" mode that the style you used relies on.

                "I’ve seen different behaviors on objects imported to the library as opposed to the stage. Some of the effects get lost when importing to the library but are kept when importing to the stage."
                I'm not sure about this, I want to say I've seen it before but I basically always import to stage. Make sure you use the same settings for both stage and library and if you can find a discrepency I would think that's a bug, so I'd report it.

                "And 9-slice scaling isn’t working for me when importing symbols from FW into Flash. "
                In Flash, 9-slice scaling only works on objects in a symbol which are not bitmaps or MovieClip symbols. Now the tricky thing is that Flash only supports filters and blendmodes on MovieClip symbols, so that's why you've probably noticed Flash auto-generates lots of symbols for your graphics. It does the same thing for any objects which had transparency applied.

                Hope that helps.