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Since CS3, we've seen noticeable improvements in terms of Photoshop and Fireworks integration. The Fireworks public beta has a significantly more robust set of preferences for importing or opening PSD files. Indeed, the Preferences panel in general is much improved over previous versions, with more centralized control for layout tools such as guides, Smart Guides, grids, and the like.

The Fireworks public beta supports hierarchical Photoshop layers, layer groups, layer styles, layer comps, vector layers, type layers, and common blend modes, making it easy to handle files received from another designer (see Figure 21).

The General Photoshop import options include the following:

  • Show import dialog box/Show open dialog box. These are identical dialog boxes that give you document-level import control whenever you open or import a PSD file. You can override your main preferences and even choose a specific layer comp to open, and specify where you want to import it.
  • Share layer between frames. This option is important for animation or "page state" effects.

The Custom file conversion settings area includes the following options:

  • Images layers as:
    • Bitmap images with editable effects. This is the default setting, which gives you the most flexibility. Layer styles remain editable.
    • Flattened bitmap images. Flattens layer effects and blend modes to maintain the exact appearance. Photoshop layer styles are no longer editable.
  • Text layers as:
    • Editable text. This is the default setting.
    • Flattened bitmap images. Preserves the look and style of text, but it's no longer editable.
  • Shape layers as:
    • Editable paths and effects. The default option with the most flexibility, but vectors may not render exactly as in Photoshop.
    • Flattened bitmap images. Vectors and effects are rasterized to bitmaps.
    • Flattened bitmap images with editable effects. Vectors are rasterized, but layer effects and blend modes remain editable.
  • Layer effects:
    • Prefer native filters over Photoshop Live Effects. This option is recommended only if the file won't be going back to Photoshop.
  • Clipping path masks:
    • Flatten to maintain appearance. The mask is converted to a bitmap mask.

With the default settings, opening or importing a PSD file displays the Photoshop File Open Options or File Import Options dialog box, respectively. This is the same dialog box with different titles, and each gives you the opportunity to set just-in-time options for opening a PSD, which will override any preferences you may have set in the past.

Sadly, though, this integration is still slightly one-way; neither Illustrator nor Photoshop is able to import a Fireworks PNG file without flattening all layers and rasterizing all objects. In order to get your designs back out to either application, you have to save the file in the native format for that application.

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