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Why Fireworks over Photoshop

Over the years I have been using Photoshop for my web visuals until I took the courage to try something new and discovered Fireworks. The more I used this software the more I smacked my self over and over because I realized that  it could have saved me hours If not days of work If I started to use it before. Let’s Face it Photoshop as the name implies is to manipulate photos and there is no doubt that it is one if not the best in doing so but my question is why using it for something which is not meant for! Its like asking a dog to tow a carriage instead of a horse!

My conclusion on why Fireworks is better its because I always look at speed such as interface, shortcuts, amount of clicks ecc.. prior to everything because designers like us should spend more time being creative rather than wasting our time in creating what we envision. Lets see why Fireworks gets to that finish line before Photoshop:

Pages: As you know a Photoshop document consists of a single page with the option of adding as many layers as you want. Fireworks on the other hand allows more than one page with multiple layers in a single document. Imagine having all you pages designed and saved in one file rather than creating a file for each page as you would usually do in Photoshop. Having all your pages into one document is a great advantage. Let’s say you need to change the main font type within your project. In Fireworks all you have to do is just update the main font in the master page (sort of like a main template) and that change will be reflected on all other pages within the same file. If you had to do a similar update in Photoshop then you would need to go into each file and repeat the same steps over and over. While with both software you will end up with the same result in Fireworks you will definitely save a great amount of time thanks to this feature. Fireworks also has the ability to treat these so called extra pages with different dimensions in that very same file really useful if you have headers and footers included within your design document.

Symbols: Imagine a situation where you have created a lot of custom bullet points all over your website design and for some unforeseen reason you need to updated their appearance with a shadow or stroke. In Photoshop this would be a huge task because you would have no choice but to manually edit each one of these points all over again a process which would create a lot of frustration without doubt. So another reason why Fireworks is more suited for web design is because of symbols. Symbols are like containers which hold multiple design elements into a single object (sort of like grouping). If a design element needs to be repeated then turn it into a symbol because when cloned and later changed all the same symbols will be updated automatically (they will be sort of linked to each other) a solution that will cut your work by half for sure!fireworks-pages

Styles: As a web designer I really love the fact on how one CSS file can change the whole appearance of a website the god of all time savers I must say. Wouldn’t be great if the same concept is available while you actually design? Well Fireworks has it and they are called Styles. Effects such as color, strokes, shadows even fonts can be defined into a style (like grouped) which can be applied later to any object which will gain that particular chosen combination with just a click. Again in Photoshop this will take a while to be achieved without styles since a lot of repetition would be involved while in Fireworks this can be done easily sort of like with the symbols mentioned earlier.

fireworks-styles

Vector: Fireworks has the same tools as Photoshop when it comes to edit raster graphics but has many extra tools for vector art. A great amount of vector shapes are available from regular shapes such as stars, polygons ecc.. to calendars, clocks, stick figures with moveable bones and the unique rounded corner rectangle with adjustable corners a feature I always wished Photoshop had.

Libraries: All symbols, styles and vector shapes can be saved into the Fireworks Library for later use in other documents. Also Fireworks ships with ready made buttons, UI elements such as scroll bars, text boxes ecc… for the Mac or Windows and also a number of ready made styles starting from metal & wood to shading and gradient styles.

Grouping: While the current version of Photoshop has improved in grouping objects together you still need to organise the layers into folders manually to have a good level of organisation within your file. This is very time consuming and not effective at all especially if you have to name the folders to keep track of what you are actually working on. In Fireworks to group is still the same way to go however it allows you to rapidly select individual objects and group them together without the necessity to name your layers unlike Photoshop when you have to right click and try to figure out which layer is your object in!

fireworks-gradientInteractive Gradients: To be fair compared to Photoshop, Fireworks interactive gradients are just a little more enhanced because you can control the actual gradient within the object with two movable handles a very simple but welcoming feature to be more accurate especially when using it with shades or opacity levels.

Batch process: While you can batch process images in Photoshop using actions some people can find this step quite confusing at times if not configured properly. In Fireworks on the other hand you have a step by step navigation to achieve what you need in just a few clicks. Apart from the standard export to another file, rename and replace you have a pre-selection of commands that will help you export and optimize your images for the web.

Conclusion: These great features are a good enough reason to make you consider changing from something you have been using in a while. I know that the challenge to Learn Fireworks might be a big step for some of you but in this case it is truly worth it. If it wasn’t I think that Adobe would have scrapped Fireworks when they acquired Macromedia don’t you think?

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