Review - Macromedia Studio and Fireworks MX 2004

Review - Macromedia Studio and Fireworks MX 2004
When it comes to creating graphics for the web, MacromediaR FireworksR has been, and still is, one of the most popular imaging software. With the latest release, MX 2004, Fireworks has been updated and improved with many new features.

One of Fireworks' most popular features is graphic optimization for the web and Fireworks is one of the best programs for optimizing web graphics such as gifs, animated gifs, jpeg and PNG. Because of the integration of Fireworks and DreamweaverR it is now also possible to optimize your web graphics from within Dreamweaver thus saving time.
Other popular features are Fireworks' slicing tools and FTP. You can "slice" a larger image into smaller pieces and then optimize each piece in the best image format (gif, jpeg, etc) for that individual image slice. You can then use Fireworks' user friendly wizard to generate the HTML and JavaScript for rollovers and client-side/server-side image maps. It is also possible to upload (FTP) your graphics from the Fireworks' program which eliminates the need to open an external FTP program. And for those times when you need to send images via email, you can compress and email these images directly from Fireworks. With the latest release the Fireworks' engine has been improved and you can now complete the most common tasks 85% faster than previous versions.

Fireworks' drawing tools have been greatly improved with this latest release and now include more of the most popular image creation and editing tools. One of the new drawing tools is the Contour Gradient which allows multicolored gradients to follow the outline paths of objects or shapes. As for shapes, there are many new preset Smart Shapes to help jump-start your creativity.

Adding special effects to your images helps your web graphics really pop on the computer screen and Fireworks' Live Effects feature makes adding and editing effects much easier. After applying a special effect to an object/image it is quick and easy to further edit and make changes. When you make changes to an object, the program will automatically make the respective changes to the special effects applied to that object.

With the Text on a Path feature and the customizable anti-aliasing feature, working with text has been improved and you now have more control over the shape and smoothness of the text.

Layers is one of the most powerful features in any image editing program and Fireworks can now import layered images created in Freehand, AdobeR IllustratorR and CorelDRAWR. After you import a layered image, there is no limit to what you can do next. For example, you can use Fireworks to create an animation from the layered image. Fireworks will transform each layer of the image into individual frames for an animation.

Fireworks has several features to make frequent tasks faster and easier. As with most popular image editing programs, Fireworks allows you to create custom automated tasks from a series of steps in the History Palette. And it is much easier to edit and update objects that you use repeatedly such as buttons with the Master Object feature. You can designate frequently used objects as Master Objects. Then you only need to make changes to the Master Object and Fireworks will automatically update every "instance" of the object. Creating animations with Tweening is a favorite feature of Macromedia FlashR and Fireworks also has this feature. When creating an animation, you need only to designate a beginning and ending image and Fireworks will generate all the transitional images for the animation.

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