Macromedia Fireworks: Indispensible Web Design Tool

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Since its introduction in 1998, Macromedia Fireworks has helped make Web designers more productive. The latest release, Macromedia Fireworks MX, carries on the tradition with even more automation and a sllek new interface.

Like other products in the MX line, Fireworks includes an interface that features better palette docking and a central Properties panel. The reorganized toolbox now arranges tools by function.

This small enhancement points towards a more essential change: modeless editing. Fireworks intelligently switches between bitmap and vector editing, depending on the type of object, layer, or URL you select. Web developers who produce a large number of similar page elements will love Fireworks' new automation features, which includes smarter button symbols and a Data-Driven Graphics Wizard. In this version, a button's text label and URL are considered attributes of the instance(or copy) rather than aspects of the master symbol. This means that you can use one button symbol to populate an entire Web site.

You can now designate text, images, or hot spots as variables. The Data-Driven Graphics Wizard then prompts you to link the Fireworks document to a structured XML file that contains alternative text phrases, replacement image filenames, and different URL destinations. Once you match the variables in the Fireworks template to the tags in the XML document, the program automatically generates variations of the source graphic.

Fireworks can now reconstitute a composition from an existing HTML table when the source PNG file is no longer accessible. And a front-caching feature lets Windows and Mac designers display a Fireworks file, without worrying about font substitutions. The Quick Export function offers preconfigured output options for leading HTML editors like Adobe GoLive, Macromedia Dreamweaver, and Microsoft FrontPage.


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