Adobe Fireworks CS5

on Saturday, March 24, 2012

When Adobe acquired Macromedia, there was a possibility that it would stop development of Fireworks in favour of its own more powerful graphical applications. Instead, it added support for multiple pages and gave the program a new lease of life by enabling it to produce new user interface designs and full site prototypes.
This time around, much of the development effort has been put into quashing bugs, general streamlining and boosting responsiveness. There's a range of basic templates, and projects can be started directly from Device Central CS5, which sets the page size to the correct dimensions and lets you quickly preview your work in all sorts of target devices.

In terms of new graphical power, Fireworks CS5 provides various minor enhancements. The aspect ratio of rectangles can be constrained, for example, and snapped to the nearest pixel to avoid anti-aliasing. Adobe has also reworked the Properties panel to provide faster access to control over strokes and gradients, and added the ability to create compound paths, both interactively and non-destructively.
You can look through thumbnail previews to choose which page you want to open, and insert pages into an open document. The enhanced text control sounds promising, but boils down to little more than support for undo and kerning shortcuts.
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There isn't much here to shout about, and with Adobe concentrating its development efforts on Flash Catalyst, that's understandable. However, Catalyst isn't intended to produce designs from scratch, it's for converting artwork from other Creative Suite apps. As such, Fireworks CS5's most significant new feature is its enhanced FXG 2 output, which allows its files to be imported by Catalyst.
With FXG support for features such as layers, live filters and multiple pages, you can design your screen interface with Fireworks CS5 and then bring it alive with Catalyst. So, while Fireworks CS5 is a minor standalone release, within a wider context it gains a potentially important new role.

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