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Product Review - Adobe's Macromedia Fireworks 8 Upgrade

For those of you familiar with AdobeR MacromediaR FireworksR, you already know how popular this software is for creating web graphics. Fireworks' graphics optimizing features are among the best on the market, as are their user-friendly wizards for creating image maps, rollovers, and pop-up menus. If Fireworks had any limitations in the past, the newest upgrade to version 8 has answered many of your feature requests.

Working with Text

In an attempt at filling in those gaps, there are three new features that make working with text much easier. The first is the new Special Characters Panel which has those characters that aren't really text characters such as the registered, copyright and trademark symbols. Now using this new panel, you can insert these characters into your text just as easily as you can in a word processing program. The second improvement is in the Layers Panel. When you add text to your image, the layer containing the text will automatically be labeled to reflect the text on that layer. It sounds like a little thing, but it really is a time saver and a big help when working with many text layers at one time.

You will also notice that the Text on a Path feature has been improved in that the text remains editable after it is attached to the shape of the path.


Image Editing

Image editing has been improved considerably with the addition of 25 new blend modes along with a new Image Editing Panel. The new blends work like those found in PhotoshopR and the most frequently used tools, such as red eye removal, crop, scale, blur, sharpen, dodge and burn, have been combined into the new Image Editing Panel. As with DreamweaverR and FlashR, you have complete control of these tools in the Property Inspector.

For those who use Fireworks to create graphics that will be used in Flash applications, you will be happy about the increased integration between Fireworks, Flash and Dreamweaver. For example, vector fills, strokes, filters and blends will transfer from Fireworks to Flash and remain editable for fine tuning in your Flash applications. Also when moving from Flash to Fireworks, ActionScriptR color values can be pasted directly into Fireworks color value fields without any discernable change in color. The Auto Shape Properties Panel has been improved making drawing vector shapes even easier than before.

Of course, one can't forget to mention the improvements in the production of interactive graphics which is one of Fireworks most popular features. You can generate webpage code as HTML and JavaScript, as before. However, you now have the option to add Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to the HTML and JavaScript. The finished code can be combined into one document file or into separate files as needed. This makes incorporating this code into Dreamweaver easier.

The improvement I like the best is the perspective shadow. I use drop and perspective shadows in many of my graphics and this new command in the Menu bar is very nice. After you apply the perspective shadow, it remains editable. You can even paste it directly into Flash as an editable object.

The last improvement I want to mention is the added flexibility when opening and saving images in various formats. Added to the list of supported image formats are QuicktimeR, MacPaint, SGI and JPEG 2000. Also, Iit is no longer necessary to use the export function now that the Save as function has been improved.



AdobeR product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated. AdobeR, BridgeR, IllustratorR, PhotoshopR, PhotoshopR AlbumTM, DreamweaverR, FireworksR and FlashR are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
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