15 Replies Latest reply on Oct 17, 2011 11:18 PM by smartwebby

    Why Fireworks?


      I am learning Photoshop for the web and was moving to Dreamweaver tutorials.

      I do not understand why one needs Fireworks. Why do you need to build a prototype of a site, if you can move directly from PShop to Dreamwaver?



        • 2. Re: Why Fireworks?
          pendue Level 1

          Thanks! I'll take a look.

          • 3. Re: Why Fireworks?
            pendue Level 1

            Thanks. I read the article, but it is a good description of what FW does, but I still don't understand what it's primary use is and why it is used to make website "prototypes" when you can go straight to Dreamweaver. Or is it just another software to build a final site like Dreamweaver? And, if so, why would Adobe have two web-building applications? i.e.,what is FW's point of difference?  Thanks.

            • 4. Re: Why Fireworks?
              Linda Nicholls Level 4

              My work flow is to use Fireworks to create a mockup of the entire site, and then slice, optimeze, and export the images to use in Dreamweaver. I never touch Photoshop or Illustrator because I find it far easier to do my graphic work in FW.

              • 5. Re: Why Fireworks?
                smartwebby Level 1

                Firstly, Fireworks is a full blown website design software and not just for prototyping - I guess Adobe likes to use that word to distinguish it. Before Adobe bought it's competitor Macromedia - Photoshop and Fireworks were rivals in the web design field. After they bought it out they were going to stop supporting Fireworks but then they realized its potential - its a true WYSIWYG (renders as for the web), gives pixel perfect control and is more suitable for website design and exporting web images than Photoshop (the files optimized in Fireworks are better for the web). Most importantly, its easier to learn and is a rapid development tool. Unless you are a photoshop expert I would recommend using Fireworks for most website design tasks and using Photoshop for photo manipulation and rendering jazzy effects - when required. Another thing Fireworks is great at is vector design and manipulation for the web.


                Hope this helps you get a better idea about the use of Fireworks.


                - Anita

                • 6. Re: Why Fireworks?
                  pixlor Level 4

                  smartwebby wrote:


                  Firstly, Fireworks is a full blown website design software and not just for prototyping - I guess Adobe likes to use that word to distinguish it. ...


                  Fireworks is not site design software. The code FW produces is bloated, impossible to read/maintain, and not stable enough for live sites. Because of its limiatations, Adobe markets it as a prototyping tool rather than a site development tool. This forum is regularly used by people for help to get FW to do something that it can't, so being clear about the limited development capability is important.

                  • 7. Re: Why Fireworks?
                    smartwebby Level 1

                    Hi Pixlor,


                    Firstly I said "website design" and not "website development". There is a big difference if you haven't noticed. A good web developer obviously doesn't use a design software for converting their design to code. I've designed hundreds of websites solely using Fireworks over the past 11 years. I don't need you to validate my statement but I wanted to reply so you don't get away with confusing newbies and downgrading the forum and its users. Photoshop vs Fireworks wars are over, get over it.


                    - Anita

                    • 8. Re: Why Fireworks?
                      Jim_Babbage Level 4

                      I believe the point Pixlor was making is that these terms are often misunderstood by new users, and often used interchagebly (and incorrectly) in various books and online. And yes, there is a big difference - but it's not necessarily one understood by all. If I tell a student, or even traditional graphic designer that Fireworks is used to design web sites, or is used for website design, they often misconstrue that as meaning that Fireworks will visually build their functional website. I see questions in that vein in this forum even now. That description of Fireworks often needs more explanation in order for it to be correctly understood.

                      • 9. Re: Why Fireworks?
                        pixlor Level 4

                        Thanks, Jim, that's what I meant.


                        Anita, as you're rather new to this forum, you won't have seen the number of threads by people who think that they can make a layout in FW, run the export routine, and FW will build their site for them. They are often frustrated with the result not working as they expect and occasionally angry that FW cannot do this. They sometimes are dismayed at (or resent) being told that they need to learn some HTML. Terms such as "full blown" and "WYSIWYG" will tend to reinforce this incorrect impression of the software, so it's important to be very clear on the capabilites and limitations of Fireworks. Especially for newbies.

                        • 10. Re: Why Fireworks?
                          pendue Level 1

                          Actually, I am the guy who originated this post and I appreciate all the input. Anita was nice enuf to direct me to an article.

                          I see now that FW is a "layout" step for sites like PShop is. Both can export code, but most recommend DW for that.

                          I see that Adobe wanted a web program like DW (and Flash) and FW was supported after their purchase of Macromedia because of those who planned sites in FW and were not familiar with PShop.

                          So whether one "lays out" a prototype site in PShop or FW depends really on which one they know best.

                          Then DW does the rest, unless one writes the code himself (which I aint doin!)  Yes?

                          • 11. Re: Why Fireworks?
                            smartwebby Level 1

                            Jim, Pixlor
                            : Okay, I see what you mean about people expecting Fireworks to convert the site well and why Adobe calls it prototyping. In that case Photoshop and Fireworks can both prototype so Adobe should stop making confusing claims. Fireworks is an excellent design software first - anything else that it additionally offers are bonuses.


                            Pendue: Dreamweaver doesn't really "do the rest", you still need to learn HTML and CSS to create professional websites - Dreamweaver does help (like a lot of other website development software) but you need to help yourself by learning to code websites a little - its not that tough and is amazingly interesting :-) I can see that you were searching for reasons why Fireworks can be used and when. Well there are several reasons one of which I was trying to highlight and it got lost in the whole scenario about prototyping. Fireworks is a vector based design software that was made for web design because it renders as for the web. It also rivals illustrator when it comes to graphic design and is better when it comes to designing graphics and vectors for the web because of its pixel perfect vector control. Its not great for photo manipulation and comes nothing close to what Photoshop has in the special effects department. But there are some pretty good reasons to use it in tandem with Photoshop.


                            A)  Fireworks is easy to use and not as complicated as Photoshop. Hard to admit but I've tried using Photoshop in the past 6 years occasionally to design a complete website but every-time I'm stumped by why its so difficult to work with. To name a few:

                                1. Vectors are not vectors but masked layers. Duh?! Beats me why Adobe never used the drawing capabilities of Illustrator in Photoshop?
                                2. You can't click and select a visible item. You need to click its layer, super weird. Especially when you have a couple of hundred layers - boy are u lost. Comparatively Fireworks can not only select any visible item on clicking but you can even select items hidden behind other items using the "Select Behind Tool". In PS you never know what is selected but in FW the selection can be visibly discerned.
                                3. Gradients are difficult to manipulate in PS. In Fireworks they are easy to use and you can visually manipulate them easily with the Gradient handles that appear.
                                4. Some simple filters that are non-destructive in FW are destructive in PS. For example Convert to Alpha.
                                5. Neither stroke nor fill can be given without popping a panel. Shouldn't it be visible and changeable with an eye-dropper by instinct.
                                6. Undo steps (Ctrl-z) is just 2. Super weird. You need to use history panel constantly.
                                7. Subselection and moving of grouped items not possible without ungrouping and selecting layer.

                            In short: Photoshop requires too many steps for too many tasks.


                            B) Vector shapes and manipulation are too basic - check out the autoshapes in Fireworks - they make your job so easy. Especially the ease with which you can change properties like roundness, sides, corner type, etc. whenever you want. And in PS you can't do any sort of multiple vectors manipulation. In FW you just need to click and drag with the sub-selection tool to select any number of points belonging to any number of vectors in the area selected. Its a must to try out the Path Panel features and the advanced autoshapes in the Shapes panel to see its unique features (sorry too many to discuss). The reason I have put the vector capability as a separate point is because a huge part of website design involves drawing shapes which should preferably be vectors. The more you learn website design the more you'll get the hang of creating amazing high-impact designs built with dozens of subtle tiny effects - that's what Web 2.0 design is all about - subtlety and elegance.


                            C) Control over your elements is amazing in Fireworks - You have everything at your fingertips the dimensions, the positions, effects, color, stroke, you name it: mostly everything is right there for you to see in the properties panel. If you seek pixel perfection FW is the perfect tool. Finally: Slicing, optimizing and exporting your images is extremely easy (easier than PS if I dare say).


                            Hope this helps.


                            - Anita


                            Important note to the other expert designers - I hope I haven't been too critical of Photoshop - I know most designers use Photoshop with élan. I really would love to love Photoshop but I find it so difficult to get along with ;-) and so I use it only for creating photo effects and jazzy backgrounds. I guess rapidly designing in Fireworks for 11 years has made me a bit impatient with PS. I tried reading dozens of tutorials in futility and I've never been good at using or remembering shortcuts.  If I've made errors in the points above please point them out.

                            • 12. Re: Why Fireworks?
                              Jim_Babbage Level 4

                              Jim, Pixlor: Okay, I see what you mean about people expecting Fireworks to convert the site well and why Adobe calls it prototyping. In that case Photoshop and Fireworks can both prototype so Adobe should stop making confusing claims. Fireworks is an excellent design software first - anything else that it additionally offers are bonuses.

                              Agreed! I spend a lot of my teaching time showing that Fireworks is a creative tool as well as a production tool.

                              • 13. Re: Why Fireworks?
                                smartwebby Level 1

                                Jim: Thanks for agreeing :-) I hope Adobe would start acknowledging the core capabilities of Fireworks soon - I've noticed that there is a negative mindset right at the start because of the design-to-code conversion expectations and the inevitable problems that come with it.

                                • 14. Re: Why Fireworks?
                                  pixlor Level 4



                                  Excellent breakdown of the benefits of Fireworks.


                                  I have occasionally used PS for photo work, but I really don't do much of that. I enjoy using vector drawing programs (Expression from Creature House, now Expression Design in the Microsoft suite) and Illustrator. I've done some complex elements in Illy that would be difficult (but not impossible) to create in FW...but then I import them into FW for site design and graphics production. Each tool has strengths and should be appreciated for them: PS for photos, Illy for complex drawing (and both PS and Illy for print work), FW for rapid Web site prototyping and graphics. (And, of course, Dreamweaver for Web site production.)

                                  • 15. Re: Why Fireworks?
                                    smartwebby Level 1

                                    Thanks pixlor!