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Adobe Fireworks CS5: A Rock-Solid Contender

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Jim Babbage, coauthor of Adobe Fireworks CS5 Classroom in a Book, reports on some of the many changes in the newest version of Fireworks, with particular emphasis on mobile design and efficiency improvements.
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Although the release of Fireworks CS5 came without much fanfare from the Adobe marketing machine, I can tell you that working with this new version of Fireworks is a real pleasure. The engineering team spent a lot of time tweaking Fireworks to make it work more quickly, reliably, and intuitively. This article focuses on an impressive laundry list of features that help Fireworks to be easier and faster to use, making it a must-have application for screen-based design:

  • Document templates
  • Page preview
  • Properties panel enhancements
  • Type-handling improvements
  • Gradient Editor updates
  • Adobe Swatch Exchange support
  • Pixel-precise vectors
  • Compound Shape tool

Add features such as Device Central integration and FXG 2.0 support, and you have one very nifty piece of software!

On the off-chance that you don't know what Fireworks is or what to do with it, I'll begin with a brief introduction to the product. Readers who are already familiar with Fireworks can jump past the next section to get right to the discussion of new and improved features.

What Is Fireworks?

Adobe Fireworks is a powerful and intuitive environment for designing screen-based graphics, interfaces, and applications. Whether designs are destined for the Web, mobile devices, or consumer electronics, the seamless vector- and bitmap-editing capabilities of Fireworks make it easy to explore design choices, using an extensive range of easy-to-use and nondestructive tools.

Fireworks offers pretty impressive image-optimization functionality. Thanks to the Optimization panel and Preview modes, you can export consistently high-quality screen graphics that are small in file size. Unlike many applications on the market, Fireworks can also export 8-bit PNG files with alpha transparency, making it easy to create low-bandwidth web graphics with realistic drop shadows or outer glows.

Ideal for prototyping web and mobile applications and even entire websites, Fireworks enables you to test and refine your ideas, helping you to meet your design objectives. Thanks to its variety of output options (PDF, AIR, optimized graphics, HTML, SWF, PSD, and FXG 2.0), Fireworks lets you share work with colleagues or collaborate with clients, reducing or eliminating potential issues before development begins. This capability can save time for you and money for your clients.

In short, Fireworks isn't just a slice-and-dice tool for cutting up large images for optimization. It's a professional creative tool with unique screen-based workflows at its core.

Now that we're all on the same page, let's look at some of those fantastic Fireworks features!

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