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Adobe Fireworks: Is It Worth Switching to CS5?

Adobe Fireworks is the Swiss Army knife for many developers and Web, UX, UI and graphic designers. The application is known for its versatility, excellent blend of vector and bitmap tools and powerful built-in wireframing and prototyping options. Also, according to the SoDA 2010 Digital Marketing Outlook survey, Fireworks has become an important tool for many digital agencies.

It now has the same standing as other core Adobe products, such as Flash, Flex and Dreamweaver (to the question “Which technical skill sets, if any, will you look to hire or contract in 2010?”, approx. 12%1 of the survey respondents replied “Fireworks”, and to the question “Which tools/products will you or your organization use in 2010?”, more than 44%2 of the survey respondents replied that they will be using Fireworks).

Further Reading: Link

A lot of official Adobe pages cover the latest version of Fireworks, CS5, in detail: for example, the new Fireworks CS5 product page7; the Fireworks CS5/CS4/CS3 comparison chart8; and the pages that highlight Fireworks CS5’s Web workflows9 and design workflows10.

But none of these official Adobe pages actually answer the question that so many design professionals are asking in the first place: is Fireworks CS5 really better? Will it save you time and effort? Are the new features worth the upgrade price? This article gives detailed answers to these questions. We’ll present a neat list of Fireworks CS5’s new features and improved workflows, along with examples of how they will make your work much more efficient.

1. Better Performance Link

Performance Improvements Link

One of the most notable (and welcome) improvements in the latest version of Fireworks is performance. Fireworks CS5 is faster and more lightweight, it uses less RAM and it is much more stable than any previous version of Fireworks.

For example, look at the following performance graph. Testing was done on a five-year-old Lenovo ThinkPad, with a 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium-M CPU and 1.5 GB of DDR memory.

Adobe Fireworks CS5 - performance graph (start-up times on a ThinkPad)
Performance graph of start-up times.

Notice that start-up times are much better for the CS5 version, and Fireworks CS5 may need less than 4 seconds for a “warm” start on a five-year-old machine; some Mac users already report similar performance improvements11.

More performance stats:

  • “Cold” launch times improved by 3 to 9% (average)
  • “Warm” launch times improved by 30 to 32% (average)
  • Memory (RAM) usage reduced by 2 to 16% (average)

Adobe Fireworks CS5 - performance graph (general performance improvements)
Graph of general performance improvements.

So, while major new versions of Adobe applications are usually more resource-hungry than their predecessors, seeing that this is actually the opposite case with Fireworks is a pleasant surprise.

Better Handling of Files Link

Fireworks CS5 opens and saves PNG files faster, better and more reliably. It also allows you to open multi-page Fireworks PNG files much more easily, because the open dialog shows a preview of all of the pages inside.

Adobe Fireworks CS5 - open/import dialog
Multi-page preview in the “Open” and “Import” dialog boxes.

(NOTE: Files created in Fireworks CS4 (and earlier versions) will not have the preview option available by default; a Fireworks PNG file must be saved at least once in Fireworks CS5 so that the multi-page preview becomes available for this file.)

Recovery Options Link

Fireworks CS5 is much stabler than its predecessor. Still, in case the worst happens and Fireworks CS5 suddenly crashes on your Mac, it automatically places a recovered copy of the file in a Recovered Files folder on your desktop. Windows users are protected, too: they can use the AutoBackup extension1412, which works perfectly with both Fireworks CS4 and CS5. The extension works on Windows and Mac and automatically saves copies of all opened PNG files at a user-specified interval inside a folder named FWAIRBackup (which is located on the same path as the original file).

Fireworks recovery options for Mac and Windows users
Fireworks CS5 Windows and Mac users are protected from data loss.

EDIT (2010/Oct/02): Bruce Bowman recently updated13 me on the Fireworks CS5 Mac auto-recovery feature. It seems that even if the feature was available and tested in Fireworks CS5 Beta, it was removed in the last minute, so the final build shipped without it. I am not sure if there will be a later patch for Fireworks CS5 that will include it again, so I am recommending now to both Mac and Win users to download and install the AutoBackup extension1412!

2. PI Panel Improvements Link

The powerful property inspector (or PI) panel has always been the core of Fireworks and one of its best features. From this panel, you can instantly change almost any available property for almost any selected object on the canvas: vector object, bitmap object, text object, a group of objects, etc.

The Property Inspector Panel in Fireworks CS5
The new PI panel in Fireworks CS5 (overview).

In Fireworks CS5, the PI panel has been largely improved. It now responds much faster, and compared to CS4, the “refresh” times are reduced, especially on Windows. It also has many new features. Let’s look at the four most important ones:

New “Constrain Proportions” Option for Resizing Objects Link

No need to use the Numeric Transform tool anymore when you want to resize an object and keep its proportions locked. The new “Constrain Proportions” option on the PI panel simplifies this and saves you time (and a few extra clicks).

The Property Inspector Panel in Fireworks CS5 - Constrain Proportions option
The PI panel option to lock the proportions of an object.

New Dithering Option for Gradients Link

Gradient Dithering is a new feature introduced in Fireworks CS5. When working with gradients, switching the Gradient Dithering option “on” or “off” is now just a click away.

The Property Inspector Panel in Fireworks CS5 - Gradient Dither options
PI panel option for switching Gradient Dithering on and off.

New Stroke Alignment Options Link

Need to change Stroke Alignment properties? You don’t need to open the Stroke options anymore — just use the new Stroke Alignment icons, right on the PI panel.

The Property Inspector Panel in Fireworks CS5 - Stroke Alignment options
The Stroke Alignment options on the PI panel.

New Compound Shape Tools Link

Fireworks CS5 has a powerful new feature: Compound Shapes (more on this feature later). Creating and editing them is done easily from the PI panel, too.

The Property Inspector Panel in Fireworks CS5 - Compound Shapes
Editing Compound Shapes on the PI panel.

3. New Text Engine Features Link

Fireworks CS5 has a much better text engine, with many new features and tiny enhancements that will help in your routine work with text. Here’s a quick list of the enhancements:

  • Kerning, tracking and leading between characters in a text block can now be easily controlled using only the keyboard (simply put the cursor in between characters and use the keyboard arrow keys).
  • The slider value for kerning and tracking has been increased to 200.
  • If you open a PNG file created in Fireworks v. CS3 or lower, the kerning and tracking values will be automatically mapped and the look of the text will be preserved.
  • A new option (unique to Adobe Fireworks) allows you to multi-select characters and words in a text box and then style them together at once. This is complemented by another new option that allows you to auto-select similarly styled characters, words or paragraphs inside a text block, and then modify their styles at once.
  • An editable and auto-completing font list box feature has been added (Windows version only).
  • Now, you don’t need to restart Fireworks after installing a new font (Windows version only).
  • Undoing (Ctrl/Cmd + Z) and redoing (Ctrl/Cmd + Y) at the character level is now possible while you’re in text-editing mode.
  • Double-clicking selects the word, and triple-clicking selects the entire paragraph.
  • In the Layers panel, text object layers are now marked with a tiny “T” icon, for easier recognition.
  • A Text Overflow indicator appears when extra characters (that don’t fit the text-in-path or text-on-path) exist.
  • Copying and pasting text from any version of Microsoft Office into Fireworks is much improved.
  • The number of characters that can be copied and pasted into a Fireworks text block at once has been increased from 2000 to 8000.

(We may highlight and explain text engine improvements in Fireworks CS5 in greater detail in a future article.)

4. Improved Adobe CS5 Integration Link

Integration of Fireworks CS5 with other Adobe CS5 applications is much improved.

  • Fireworks CS5 now supports ASE swatches15, the same color file format supported by Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign and Kuler16. The .ASE support will allow designers to easily exchange color schemes between Fireworks and other Adobe products.
  • Fireworks CS5 has very good integration with Adobe Illustrator CS5. Fireworks CS5 can import graphic assets from Illustrator CS5 almost perfectly, and copying and pasting directly from Illustrator CS5 into Fireworks CS5 is possible with a high level of fidelity and editability, too (there exist only a few exceptions to this).
  • Fireworks CS5 can export in the new FXG 2.0 file format17, and FXG 2.0 files can be imported into Illustrator CS5, Flash Catalyst CS5 and other Adobe programs with almost no loss in editability.
  • Fireworks CS5 is integrated with Adobe Device Central CS518 (read the article about Adobe Fireworks CS5 and Adobe Device Central titled “Mobile workflows using Fireworks CS5 and Device Central CS519“).
  • The integration with Adobe Photoshop CS5 is excellent, too. Fireworks CS5 can import graphic assets from Photoshop CS5 very well. Fireworks CS5 has much better support for Photoshop PSD files. Adjustment Layers in a PSD file now retain their appearance when opened or imported in Fireworks. Gradient round-tripping is now possible between Fireworks and Photoshop.

5. Miscellaneous New Tools And Features Link

Compound Shapes Link

Fireworks CS5 has powerful new vector tools in its toolset, called Compound Shapes. Compound Shapes are special vector groups that give you greater vector power. You can create new compound shapes out of existing vector objects and you can also draw in several compound shape modes. A Compound Shape group allows the editing and styling of several vector objects as one, while preserving the original vector objects inside the group. The individual objects can be easily re-edited or ungrouped at any stage.

To use the new Compound Shapes, simply select several vector objects together, and then use one of the available Compound Shape operations (found on the PI panel): Add/Union, Subtract/Punch, Intersect, Crop.

After you have created a Compound Shape group, editing individual objects within the group is easy: simply use the Subselection tool (white arrow) to select and modify any individual object. To edit the Compound Shape group as one object, switch to the Pointer tool (black arrow).

Here’s a simple example:

Compound Shapes in Fireworks CS5 (example)
Example of Compound Shapes.

The introduction of Compound Shapes in Fireworks CS5 gives designers even more flexibility, because the standard vector combine workflows (Modify → Combine Paths → Join/Split/Union/Intersect/Punch/Crop) can be complemented by the new non-destructive combine vector workflows20.

Compound Shapes are also fun for all kinds of creative artwork:

Compound Shapes Creative Example (illustration by Ani,
“Monsters,” a creative use of Compound Shapes (illustration by molif.com21).

Dithering Option for Gradients Link

Fireworks CS5 now has a Dithering option for gradients, which almost completely reduces any “banding” in radial or linear gradients.

New Gradient Option in Fireworks CS5
The new Gradient Dithering option reduces “banding” in gradients.

NOTE: The Gradient Dithering option is available for Radial and Linear gradients only. For now, other types of gradients in Fireworks are not supported.

Reverse Option for Gradients Link

Fireworks CS5 allows you to easily reverse the direction of any kind of gradient, which can save time.

New Gradient Reverse Option in Fireworks CS5
Reverse Gradient option.

Snap-to-Pixel Link

Snap-to-Pixel is a new feature in Fireworks CS5 that allows you to fix instantly almost any blurriness in a vector object (or a group of objects), after some complex transformations have been applied to it. To apply this command, use Modify → Snap To Pixel, or the Cmd/Ctrl + K shortcut. This is one of the best and most useful new features in Fireworks CS5.

Templates Link

Fireworks CS5 introduces Templates. Now you can easily create and share your own PNG templates inside a small or large design team.

To use this new feature, simply select File → New from Template to open an existing template, or File → Save as Template.

New Templates in Fireworks CS5
Templates options in the File menu.

Fireworks CS5 comes with several pre-built templates (neatly organized in a few groups: Grid Systems, Mobile, Web, Wireframes, etc.). Users can extend these easily by creating and saving their own templates.

Better CSS Export Options Link

Fireworks CS5 has much better CSS and HTML exporting options. Here are some highlights:

  • A new option to export multiple pages as CSS, HTML and images at once; a great feature for quickly exporting your designs as dynamic, clickable prototypes.
  • It is now possible to tag text objects by tag name to output the text with a particular HTML tag.
  • A Text Area symbol has been added for improved HTML-form prototyping.
  • There is a List Item symbol to allow for the creation of unordered lists (both normal text lists and lists with links).
  • Font sizes are now in percentages to allow for easy and flexible text resizing in all browsers.
  • Divs with set heights now have min-height equivalents to allow for text resizing and any amount of content.
  • Many other small and big improvements have been added to the CSS Export script.

Global Preference for Grids Link

In Fireworks CS5, preferences for grids are now global and can be overridden for individual documents.

Grid Settings in Fireworks CS5
Global preferences for grids.

Redesigned Align Panel Link

The Align panel is improved and more powerful. It now remembers the most recent settings used and is more usable.

Align Panel in Fireworks CS5
Align panel options.

New “Copy to Clipboard” Option for Colors Link

You can use standard option for copying color values of any selected color, or use the new option for one-click copy of the color value.

In Fireworks CS5, you can copy the hex value of the current selected color with one click only
Copying color #hex values is now easier.

New “Don’t show again” Option for Resample Dialog Link

When you copy and paste objects between files that have different resolution (dpi setting), Fireworks will ask you if you want to resample the pasted vector or bitmap object. While it is certainly useful to have this option, experience have proved that leaving the original dpi setting of the object to be pasted is often the best choice and leads to better results.

So now in Fireworks CS5, you can select the “Don’t Resample” option and check the “Don’t show again” checkbox. Setting will be remembered and in the long run, this new option may save you time.

Better paste options in Fireworks CS5 (for documents with different dpi)
Better paste options for documents with different dpi settings.

6. Early (P)reviews Link

Fireworks CS5 was released just a few days ago, but the (p)reviews thus far have been largely positive. Let’s read some of them:

Fireworks CS5 is a very strong release.… For Fireworks CS5, more than with any other release in our history, we listened to our users. They told us that we needed to make sure Fireworks had rock-solid stability and reliability, and that we needed to refine the existing features before thinking about new ones. That’s exactly what we did, and the results are impressive.

— Bruce Bowman, Fireworks Product Manager at Adobe

I’ve had the unique opportunity to spend some time working with the new Adobe Fireworks CS5, and it has been a pleasure. The stability improvements are immediately noticeable, and although this has been described as a “stability release,” there are some very useful new features that should not be overlooked.… Overall, Adobe Fireworks CS5 is a fantastic release. Stability, new features and a smoother workflow with other Adobe products keep it as the front-runner when designing for pixels on the screen.

David Hogue22, Director of Information Design and Usability at Fluid, Inc.23

Aside from the major performance, stability, install and memory enhancements… there are tons of tweaks under the hood of Fireworks CS5!

Darrel Heath24, freelance web designer and developer25

Adobe has published a really extensive piece surrounding the details behind Fireworks CS5. I’ve talked about it with a few designers, both Fireworks and Photoshop users, and had a gut feeling that it would be mostly a bug-fix release. While every Adobe product under the sun needs at least one full version release consisting of mostly bug fixes, I gladly welcome Fireworks CS5. The fixes mentioned in the piece have me really excited to put more time into working with the application after it’s released.

— Jonathan Christopher, front-end developer at Overit Media26

Fireworks CS5: improved performance, more precise control over the pixel placement of design elements and a streamlined, accelerated workflow.

Webdesigner Depot27

Adobe Fireworks CS5 is better than ever. The engineers searched high and low to find ways to make Fireworks faster, more stable and easier to use. I know I’m impressed and I hope… you will be too!

— Jim Babbage, author at Lynda.com28 (Part 1, Part 2)

Enjoy the increased stability and polish in Fireworks CS5. If you haven’t upgraded in a while and passed over CS4 as some people I know have done, don’t pass on CS5. It will make your current workflows much smoother and does add a few welcome new features. I highly recommend it!

Stéphane Bergeron29, freelance Web designer at Webfocus Design30

7. Conclusion Link

So, is Fireworks CS5 really better? For me, it is. Fireworks CS5 may not be absolutely perfect or contain any “wow” features. But at the same time, it is a very welcome release — fast, stable, polished, with lots of tiny refinements and additions that will make your design work more efficient.

I wasn’t able to list all of the new features and improvements in Fireworks CS5, but I hope your curiosity now is piqued enough that you will want to try Fireworks CS5 soon. If so, grab the 30-day free trial31 or order Fireworks CS5 from Adobe (either separately or as part of Web Premium CS5, Design Premium CS5 or Master Collection CS5).

We hope to see more smashing Fireworks-related articles in the next few months, so if you have questions, feel free to share them in the comments!


Footnotes Link

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Michel is a freelance designer, illustrator and photographer. He also happens to work as contributing editor at Smashing Magazine and is very passionate about modern UI design tools, HTML/CSS, Web Standards and the smell of good coffee. When not editing articles, he can often be found reading about design, riding his bicycle, looking at the clouds in the sky, or tweeting. :)

  1. 1

    Jack Griffiths

    May 22, 2010 1:09 am

    I personally find Fireworks CS5 a lot quicker.

    • 2

      John Robinson

      May 22, 2010 2:02 am

      I’m quite looking forward to getting my hands on this. Particularly excited about the improved Illustrator integration and the dithering options on gradients.

      If the Illustrator integration is as complete as I hope it is then it’s going to be a massive boost for productivity. Currently FW falls over when it encounters any gradient or style info it doesn’t understand which makes Illustrator > Fireworks a nightmare.

      • 3

        Michel Bozgounov

        May 22, 2010 2:28 am

        Fireworks CS5 imports Ai CS5 objects pretty well, with a few exceptions (for example, Illustrator’s Gradient Meshes are not supported by Fireworks). But Illustrator shares its library with Fireworks now, which improves the level of integration a lot.

        I think you should make your own tests, by trying to import into Fireworks various objects from Illustrator (you can use the 30-days free Fw trial — it will give you plenty of time to test every feature of the new version)!

  2. 4

    Jonathan Dumaine

    May 22, 2010 1:26 am

    One thing that pisses me off to NO end are the color wheels that show whenever you click any color picker (like the one in the properties window for instance). They suck, and I was hoping they’d use Photoshop’s instead.

    Also, wtf is with the “Photoshop Live Effects” still sucking nuts? It’s really a half-assed implementation of Photoshop’s layer effects.

    • 5

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 2:20 am

      When working with colors in Fireworks, you can switch to the Swatches Panel, and with the introduction of .ASE support in Fireworks CS5, I don’t see why the default color picker in Fireworks is such a big problem? Also, you may open the Color Palette panel (Window > Others > Color Palette) which is much more flexible and has many additional options for working with color.

      About Photoshop Live Effects — not all Ps live effects are supported by Fw, indeed. But many are. Now let me ask you a question — how many Fireworks live effects (live filters) are supported by Photoshop? ;)

    • 6

      You seem to be a photoshop fanatic!!! No need to be so rude here if you dont like Fireworks. You can continue using your photoshop and let those who love fireworks use their favourite FIREWORKS!

      Sorry if this hurts :P

  3. 7

    Thank you for the extensive review Michel.

    Snap-to-Pixel is the highlight of this release for me. On the flip side text editing is still not up to scratch but there is always Photoshop!

  4. 8

    I upgraded to CS5 a few days ago myself from CS3 and it’s been a huge improvement for me. I’d been tempted to get CS4 but I like to skip a version for economics sake. It runs smoothly with aero desktop enabled on Windows unlike CS3 and it’s very fast, no longer do I hesitate to launch Fireworks to make a quick edit to something, coming up as fast as 4 seconds on my machine with a warm start, or 12 on a cold start.

  5. 9

    Text layout PI obviously still isnt perfected then? Why don’t they just lift all the same funtionality from Indesign? e.g. laying up bulleted lists is still going to require 2 text fields. My FW-CS3 is pretty quick so I’m not sure I’ll be upgrading. Thanks for the article though, muchos appriciatos. M

  6. 10

    I haven’t had a chance to play with fireworks CS5 but this article gives me hope! Fireworks has been an essential tool for web development and graphics!

    • 11

      “essential tool for web development and graphics” lolwut?

      Am I the only one who find this program a waste of money

      • 12

        Lilian: yes.

      • 13

        I don’t like fw!

      • 14

        If you design websites in Photoshop then ur a retard! If you insist that ur not then ur surely a fucktard!

        • 15

          Hey David,

          With your great spelling and language, I somehow doubt you have much skills in anything. You seem to have the mental I.Q. (that’s stands for Intelligence Quotient since you’re too **** to know) of a preschooler.

      • 16

        Yes. Lilian. You are. Fireworks remains an awesome tool for screen graphics.

  7. 17

    Interesting read if you’re already using Fireworks, but if nobody minds me asking: What’s the actual use of Fireworks for webdesign? I’ve been designing websites for nearly 12 years now and always did it with just Photoshop. I’m very sure I don’t even know what goodies I’m missing out on ;-) By the usage statistics posted here it’s evident that it’s worth my time learning to use Fireworks, but can anyone tell me what exactly it does for me which I can’t already do with Photoshop..?

    • 18

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 2:50 am


      I think you miss the point of the article, which is not about what Fireworks does that Photoshop doesn’t already do for you, but how effectively you can do it in Fireworks! And Fireworks CS5 really excels when it comes to design for screen.

      Of course, everyone has its own favourite tool for design for screen (and Web), like Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks or Inkscape. Photoshop is great at editing bitmaps, and yes, it works with vectors, too, and you can use it for interface and Web design, but the workflows in Fireworks are simply easier and faster.

      And instead of giving you more arguments, I will recommend to you the following articles about Fireworks and how effective you can be using it:

      Hope these will help you to answer your question! :)

    • 19

      Stéphane Bergeron

      May 22, 2010 5:21 am

      In addition to Michel’s links, here’s an article about this I wrote a few years ago:

    • 20

      Exactly this is my concern… Why they replace Perfect ImageReady by not integrated fireworks? – Even in CS5 IMO fireworks is still not integrated with adobe package on level ImageReady was.

      My main every day tool is photoshop ant jumping to fireworks is useless. Especially when designing for print web and multimedia in same time.

    • 21

      The single thing that keeps me coming back to Fireworks over Photoshop is this:

      When you have 30 elements on a page, each of them is in a different layer.

      When you want to select one of those elements, say a bitmap icon, and move it to one side, in Photoshop you have to find its layer in the list and select it, or right click on top of it, and then select its layer. You don’t get a good visual cue on the bitmap icon itself that it is selected. But now you can move it.

      In Fireworks, you simply hover over the bitmap icon with your mouse and its edges light up in red indicating that if you click it will be selected. When you do click, its edges light up in blue and it’s selected. Completely visual, doesn’t require navigating a list of layers. It’s just faster and easier.

      Maybe I’m missing the way to do this in Photoshop. And I know that people who know Photoshop really well are able to be highly effective in it. I just find this one simple thing immensely easier about Fireworks. Moving stuff around is something you do thousands of times in a work session. Making it easier really adds up to something.

      • 22

        Umm, in Photoshop select the move tool (this is the first tool in the toolbar, it is the tool above the rectangular marquee tool in the toolbar). The controls bar then shows different options. One of which is “Auto-Select”. Tick the box beside it and select “Layer” from the drop-down menu. (Photoshop will save this as the default so you don’t have to do this everytime you start it up.) Now you can simply hover and click on an object and it is immediately selected to be moved. You can also tick the box “Show Transform Controls” and it will show the bounding box of the object you clicked on.

        Really, it doesn’t get much easier than that.

        • 23

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 24, 2010 10:36 am

          Fireworks is not only about “click-to-select, select-to-edit”. Fireworks has really intuitive workflow, when creating designs for Web, and there exist many differences between Ps and Fw. Some of them may be covered in a future article, though.

          Btw, the relatively new “auto-select” feature in Ps was borrowed from Fireworks. ;)

        • 24

          Thanks! I didn’t know about this. Doesn’t work as nicely as FW but good to know it’s there.

        • 25

          Hu hu you just forget to explain after that how to simply move the object in PS from one layer to another one. In FW it’s just as easy as copy and paste.

    • 26

      Leo Robert Klein

      May 24, 2010 5:36 pm

      Each app has its advantages. I go to Fireworks when I need both bitmap and vector work. It’s far better combining the two than Photoshop.

  8. 27

    I’m glad they fixed some (most?) of the stability issues. But they really need to cool it with the ‘integration’ stuff. Fireworks is one app that is just fine as a standalone app, but it’s too expensive, and Adobe keep shoving Bridge and other crap down our throats.

    • 28

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 2:54 am

      Yes, Fireworks is fine as a standalone app, but integration is important in today’s design world, too — being able to open a Ps PSD file in Fireworks and make some edits and then export it with best optimization settings, is a huge plus for me!

      And you might be happy to hear that when you install Fireworks CS5, Bridge CS5 is not installed — Bridge is installed with Ps/Ai and the “big” CS5 Suites only! ;)

  9. 29

    I am a great fan of Fireworks.
    But every time I am disappointed to see that Adobe could make Fireworks an ultimate tool of webdesigning, but repeatedly they are ignoring.

    to me, Fireworks CS5 should have to come to user as a free upgrade.
    they released a new version because they had to. nothing else.

  10. 30

    Theo Hodkin

    May 22, 2010 3:45 am

    I really don’t get fireworks. I have the CS4 Design premium suite, but never touch Fw. I personally find using Illustrator and Photoshop together far easier. What are the benefits of using Fireworks? It seems like an unnecessary piece of software to me.

    • 31

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 4:04 am

      What are the benefits of using Fireworks (for Web and screen design)? Well, you answered this one yourself — it can completely replace the workflow of using constantly two apps (Illustrator and Photoshop) instead of one. Plus, you work much faster. And not to mention that Fireworks CS5 costs only $299 in the US ($149 upgrade price), while Ps + Ai cost $1’598. Enough arguments, I think! ;-)

      • 32

        Visual Craftsman

        May 22, 2010 6:32 am

        Lmao…nuff said.

      • 33

        If you’re also doing print design, like many of us, you’ll need the design premium suite and fireworks is just an interruption to your workflow not an addition to it.

        I think fireworks is great as a niche product for a web-only focused designer but integrating it into a complete workflow that already involves web/print and encompasses Ps, illy, and indesign doesn’t make much sense.

        • 34

          Visual Craftsman

          May 22, 2010 6:59 am

          I do wish Fw handled resolution a bit better…like Ps. Although, it appears you can finally export Fw vector files with effects and retain their integrity in illustrator…FXG support. Fw is definitely NOT an interruption IMHO but a necessity if you design for the web. Improving the way Fw handles hi-res would be a great addition but should never replace its big brothers Ps and Ai.

        • 35

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 22, 2010 7:35 am

          Fireworks, a niche product?

          In this case, Photoshop is a niche product, too, because its main purpose is editing photos. And Illustrator is a niche product, too, because its main purpose is working with vectors (and print).

          The Web is the fastest growing part of today’s world, and Adobe Fireworks is an excellent tool for Web/screen design. So yes, it is a niche product that works best for the biggest “niche” of the modern world, one might say… ;-)

          • 36

            I consider the convoluted workflows of Illustrator and Photoshop more of an interruption. Every time I’m in these apps and I need to do something simple like work with gradients that have alpha stops or adjust the corner roundness of an object I’m thankful for the fact that I only have to use these apps for a short while and will soon be able to return to FW.

        • 37

          No fireworks user will ever claim that fireworks must be used for PRINT. Ur argument is biased as it clearly states that its meant for web.

      • 38


        May 22, 2010 2:31 pm

        In my opinion it’s true that Fw have a better workflow when designing websites and applying general changes for example. But in other things it’s not so good, I had a lot of problems with cs4 and the shape strokes in the middle of a pixel etc, Illlustrator and Photoshop stills being better when creating nicer graphics and interfaces. Maybe then it’s difficult to edit Ps files, but, the result, it’s, for me, nicer.

        Anyway, I use Fw, cause yeah, sometimes it’s easier when doing some things faster.

    • 39

      There is so much you can do with Fireworks that you can’t with photoshop when it comes to web designing. One of them is wire framing, being able to email my client a working document they can click on the links and see how the site works is fantastic.
      There a many more great reasons to use fireworks over photoshop for web design, take a look at this article

  11. 40

    CS5 is so much better than CS4. CS4 crashed a lot and with a memory handling problem.

    If you ask me, what’s the difference between FW CS4 and FW CS5?
    well, they got most of the bugs from CS4 fixed. that’s all!

  12. 41

    Joe Leonard

    May 22, 2010 4:16 am

    MUCH more stable & faster than previous releases.
    BEST release yet!

  13. 42

    A feature article about an advertiser? Come on guys. Where is the journalistic integrity?

    • 43

      I agree.

      Thanks for taking the time to put up this illustrated list of features and improvements, this is useful information… but on the whole it looks like a piece of advertisement for Adobe, complete with only extremely positive reviews.

      What about the fact that Adobe should have released a proper & free update to fix the big performance and stability issues that plague CS4, instead of this expensive upgrade? What about the fact that MAC and Windows users don’t get the same customer service from Adobe?

      It’s not about bashing Adobe, it’s about writing a proper article with both sides of the story.

    • 44

      Oh pleeease…just because they have an ad for something doesn’t mean they can’t write about it. This is a site for web designers. A lot of people like to use Fireworks or are interested in it. The author’s just giving info (very detailed info) I might add as to why you might like it. He never said it was the best thing you have to go buy it now click an ad from us to go buy it!!

      Get over yourselves and think for 3 seconds.

    • 45

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 7:45 am


      I do not work for Adobe — I am an independent design professional that uses and needs Adobe Fireworks, every day.

      Fireworks is a professional tool for design(ers) and I think I am completely free to write an extensive review of the latest version I use & enjoy! :)


      Adobe have released a few patches that fix most of the performance and stability issues in Fireworks CS4 — this includes the patch for Win/Mac and the 10.0.4 patch for Mac:

      So no one forces you to upgrade to CS5…

    • 46

      Adobe tools are the defacto standard for the design industry. How can you expect a design focused website to ignore them? Do you also expect gadget focused websites to ignore the iPad because they may have counted Apple on their list of advertisers?

  14. 47

    I’m still using Fireworks MX 2004 because it’s faster than CS4…I wonder if it can still beat CS5…

    The installation file is only 28MB.

  15. 48

    Thanks for covering the new features of Fireworks. I started on Photoshop and Illustrator, so its really hard for me to think of using Fireworks, but I will check some of the links above and give it a shot.

    I wonder if Adobe fixed the issue with CS4 not being able to automatically detect video cards without having to force it with a registry file.

  16. 49

    Of course, you could ignore all of this, and just use its considerably more powerful, feature rich older brother. honestly i have no idea why they didn’t scrap Fw when they bought Macromedia.

    • 50

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 6:43 am

      Because often the “feature rich older brother” (Photoshop?) is also known to be not the most effective tool for screen design — it’s currently overbloated with features (who needs 3D for screen design? or content-aware fill?), it’s slower, and it’s much more expensive.

      Fireworks is a tool that concentrates one one task, but being done very well; it is also lighter, it is much more powerful than Ps when working with vectors, and it has features specific for screen design. So for many designers, Fireworks has proved to be the right choice. I am glad it’s being developed, and I am not alone ;)

      • 51

        This idea of software being “bloated” is something I’m having trouble with. I can understand it with web apps, but a pieces of design software, like photoshop, can never have “too many features” like you seem to suggest. For me, its about the freedom. 3d or CAF may be ideal for a particular project, web design isn’t just about drawing boxes and rounded rectangles in the right places, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve jumped to my trusty brush library to grab something to add a bit of detail, or had to seriously edit a bit of stock, or an image provided by a client, before I put it on a website.

        Saying Fw is “all you need” for web design were as using Ps and Ill is a longer workflow is plain bullshit, what if you need to mainp some imagery for something? Or achive an effect on a shape that needs Ps’s layer styles? You open Ps. Thats the point of the adobe suite, you use a recipe of different applications to create something wonderful.

        If you want to use Fw for the bare-bones site structure then that’s great, who am I to tell you its wrong, but if you ONLY use Fw, chances are your creating some pretty boring, run of the mill, web design.

        • 52

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 24, 2010 12:25 am


          Please refer to my other comment about Fireworks — I give a few examples there that show anything but “boring” results achieved right in Fireworks! :)

        • 53

          If you think ur a good designer then whatever editing you do to images & vectors in photoshop, u must be able to do it in FW! If you can’t then its time to find urself a new job! :P

    • 54

      In what ways are Photoshops vector handling methods superior to Fireworks.

  17. 55

    Didn’t liked Fireworks for poor text support, I’ll try a CS5 trial to see if it any better now.

    • 56

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 7:07 am

      I think that the text engine in Fireworks CS5 is much better than the text engine in CS4. At its core, it’s the same Adobe Type Engine (ATE) that is used by Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. Each app has its own differences when working with type, of course.

      Two of the main new things in Fireworks CS5 that make working with text a real pleasure for me:

      1) There are a few new features in the text engine that are pretty much unique — like the ability to select multiple separate characters/words/paragraphs simultaneously (within one text block) and then style them together — once you master this technique, this can speed up your workflow quite a lot.

      2) As we all know, Fireworks is a tool that is intended to be used for Web/screen design mostly. And Fireworks can be extended. So right now I am using a very powerful extension that allows Fireworks’ text engine to “imitate” ClearType anti-aliasing (which is very popular):
      — with some of the options that this extension provides, text can successfully be styled to look more closer to what text might look in a real browser (on Windows). I can recommend this extension to you, too!

      • 57

        Thank you for that link — never saw that before. What a brilliant extension!

  18. 58

    It’s not really a case of it being superior for design, as it is for it’s efficiency.

    Having the option to use master pages, symbols, and sharing items across other pages make a huge difference when designing sites that are large or have multiple templates. Wireframes, especially.

  19. 59

    Aaron Martone

    May 22, 2010 6:38 am

    I never saw the use for FW when I have PS and AI. So far, I’ve been a bit disappointed in PS, but that’s simply because I’m having an issue with the program where it constantly causes the display driver to fail and successfully recover.

    I thought diabling OpenGL acceleration would help, but alas, it doesn’t. I have an open ticket with Adobe about it, but they’re both slow to respond, and have not arrived at a conclusion.

    Gotta give PS CS5 cold boot startup time its dues though. In 5 seconds, the thing is ready to go. Simply amazing. AI on the other hand takes 12 seconds. Wonder why so vastly different?

    Anyways if people like FW for what it does, more power to them. I went from Web Premium CS3 to Video Production Premium CS5. I have CS3 versions of DW, FW and Contribute as well as Acrobat 8.

  20. 60

    Visual Craftsman

    May 22, 2010 6:43 am

    Wow, I have been a Fw user since 2004, Studio 8. I’ve used CS3 for the longest time b/c it has always been stable for me. With all these improvements, I may upgrade…especially for FXG support. I have always wanted better results when importing Fw vectors with effects into illustrator (copy vectors just didn’t cut it). Sounds like it has improved! Btw, what’s this snap to pixel business all about? I didn’t see an example in the article.

    • 61

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 7:13 am

      You should try Fireworks CS5! Btw, FXG 2.0 has its own limitations, too, but I hope I can cover this topic in a future article, as well as Snap-to-Pixel. Stay tuned! :)

  21. 62

    The text is still ugly and blurry in cs5.

  22. 63

    Thanks for this article! It was perfect timing for me.

    I just installed CS5 Premium yesterday. I use Fireworks daily and so I opened it right away after installation. I didn’t notice much difference in the interface on first review. So I went out to Google and Adobe searching for new features in FW CS5 and I didn’t find much. Your article was fantastic!

    The stability and performance enhancements are definitely a good thing. But there are many tiny features covered in this article that I have longed for while using past versions or will welcome to my daily workflow (constrain proportions, alignment, text enhancements, templates, stroke buttons, reverse gradient, etc.). In many ways, I find this type of upgrade better than new features because these enhancements improve my existing workflow and productivity rather than introducing a learning curve to new features. Don’t get me wrong…I love new features but this upgrade will be a very welcome improvement to my workday.

    Adobe should re-publish this article on their community forums. Its better than the content there currently. Good job!

    • 64

      Visual Craftsman

      May 22, 2010 7:07 am

      I agree…good article. I watched the live stream of CS5 when it came out a couple weeks ago and they didn’t mention one thing about Fw. Thankfully, there are bloggers out there that keep up on things!

      • 65

        Michel Bozgounov

        May 22, 2010 7:19 am


        Thanks for the kind words — I invested a lot of effort into covering in detail most of the new things in Fireworks CS5! :-)

        @Visual Craftsman:

        Adobe was never keen at promoting well Fireworks… They still do not list it on the homepage of But let’s hope Adobe staff is reading Smashing Mag and they notice they own Fireworks and lots of professionals actually use it every day! ;)

  23. 66

    Unfortunately, I already have problems using Fireworks, in link that i am posting, you can see again text box problems like first release of CS4 have. Text is in one line, and box is visually far back. I click SELECT ALL and it select all materials that i have in Fireworks file, and you see what happen. Hoping that it will be fixed in first update.

    • 67

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 8:21 am

      Could you please post a bug (together with a PNG test file, and a detailed description) here:
      Adobe Feature Request/Bug Report Form

      I am sure that if a “dot” release is planned for CS5, this problem might be addressed by the Fireworks Team! Thank you in advance! :)

      • 68

        My friend, in CS4 versions because of crashing Fireworks, Flash and Illustrator, I send enormous number of crash reports, and still nothing is fixed with any update. So that kind “report bug” i have fear that nobody is reading at all.

        Like you say, I already send report, we will see when they will fix it.

        • 69

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 23, 2010 7:25 am

          No, all bug reports are actually read — so please, file your bug!

          But unfortunately, what is fixed (high priority) and what is not fixed (low priority) is something that not the individual Adobe teams decide; the decisions are made at a higher level. This is the reason why Fw CS4 was not a very good release… :(

  24. 70

    The fact that FW CS5 doesn’t crash constantly on my MBP the way CS4 did is already a bonus. (We have such low standards for software nowadays don’t we?) I’ve been a FW user since the Macromedia days, but like many others just preferred to use PS and AI because of FW’s idiosyncrasies (um, a brush tool that basically never worked in *any* version) — then an entire CS4 release where it didn’t work at all didn’t help me keep it top of my tool list.

    There are some terrific features in Fireworks — exotic layer blend modes, pixel alignment, built-in wireframing tools, awesome symbol libraries, and the FW pen tool just rules over any other Adobe pen tool. In fact, one of my biggest gripes is that AI, ID, and PS haven’t incorporated FW’s oh so much better pen tool.

    I used FW CS5 for the first project-related task just yesterday. I am re-designing a .NET GUI application. I used FW to slice the main UI screens up into their components so I can rearrange the elements on a fresh canvas to begin working out a new application information architecture. This worked so much better than redrawing the whole thing as a wireframe because I have to work within rigid space constraints and many of the controls cannot be resized. Plus, one of the things the client is asking for is a more unified and refreshed color scheme: so keeping the GUI controls (buttons, icons, tabs, etc.) lets me experiment with colorizing the details instead of rough wireframe sketches earlier in the workflow. (Tight timeframe, small budget, improvised workflow on this project.)

    So far I’m very impressed with CS5.

  25. 71

    absolutely amazing….great post,This time you collected most useful articles.

  26. 72

    I love Fireworks and I always design my work in Fireworks but my clients always wanted a PSD file in the end so I did a save as PSD extension and opened it in Photoshop and the colors changed completely to like a pastel look. Why? Did Fireworks CS5 fix that problem?

  27. 73

    Whenever I read a “I don’t get the point of FW” comment, I have to smile. Although a big part of me wants FW to gain in popularity, there’s another part of me that likes how it’s always been a bit under the radar. Every agency or design team I’ve ever worked with has had very little to no experience with FW, and that’s always been fine with me — I was happy to convert to PSD and keep it my little secret.

    I’ve been designing for the Web exclusively in FW for almost 10 years, so it’s been quite a secret at that. What I’ve loved about FW is that it’s so easy to put an idea on the screen. With Photoshop, there have been many times where I’d be hesitant to experiment or try and idea because of how cumbersome it would be to implement. With FW, I always feel like it gives me the tools I need and then gets out of the way.

    For those who don’t understand why I don’t just use PS or IL, that’s fine. In FW I can do my job in less than half the time as with other tools, and certainly with better results. When you can improve quality and decrease time, your costs go down. When costs go down, you can be more competitive when bidding on jobs. So please, by all means, continue to doubt. :)

    • 74

      “When you can improve quality and decrease time, your costs go down. When costs go down, you can be more competitive when bidding on jobs.”

      This. :)

    • 75

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 12:01 pm

      What I’ve loved about FW is that it’s so easy to put an idea on the screen. With Photoshop, there have been many times where I’d be hesitant to experiment or try and idea because of how cumbersome it would be to implement. With FW, I always feel like it gives me the tools I need and then gets out of the way.

      Thumbs up! Couldn’t agree with you more! :)

    • 76

      Oh, just come off your high horse. Fireworks is for people who need it simple. The sort of people who want to buy a bike and get a ‘city bike’ – ignoring the mountain bikes and road racers that are in the shop and cost a bit more. When I read that it takes sooooo long to do certain things in PS and AI that this is surely down to the fact that you don’t know how to use these software packages. Just because you have 10yrs of experience with a certain software doesn’t make you god of web design winning all the business. A person with 10yrs experience in PS and AI will be able to outrun your incredible work flows with ease because they know how to use it. And additionally, they will be able to respond to 3D questions, create print ready artwork (and therefore generate more revenue as they can sell much more than just a new standalone website). When you launch of the website, they can make sure that the brand works throughout all of the company’s collateral and media publications. Too many website I have seen by Fireworks designers just like you living in a bubble because they are unable to think further than oh so fantastic gradients and layer blends.

      I think this whole article is a bit weird. There is people who open CS5 and cannot see a difference between CS4 and CS5. They have to go onto Google to find an article about FW to figure out how much better the software now works. I am sorry, but this doesn’t sound like the best selling argument. And the fact that 12% of employers will look for this software… 88% don’t – and I am sure 100% will be looking for people with PS and AI skills, because this is the standard software with which you can do EVERYTHING.

      So, I am going to switch of the lights and have a bath. I will light some candles. With my electric lighter. Do you know these kind of things? The next time you buy your monthly box of matches, ask the person behind the till. They will show you some. They cost more than matches, but they work much better, more reliable and definitely longer. And you might be able to fit it on the rack of your city bike…

      • 77

        You are the poster child for my point of view — bizarre generalizations and uninformed criticisms and all.

        Keep up the good work!

        • 78

          That’s alright. I can live with that. Sometimes it’s the only way to respond to up on the high horse comments spiced with patronizing remarks. Go on producing high volumes of shite websites with no soul and please don’t call yourself a designer because for designers time should not matter.

          • 79

            Michel Bozgounov

            May 23, 2010 1:32 am

            Do you know that‘s mobile interface was designed with Adobe Fireworks? Interesting fact, isn’t it? :-)

            Or will you call it a “shite website with no soul”, too? ‘Nuff said! :)

          • 80

            I am not taking advise of someone who is so “independent” that he lists Adobe as client on their own portfolio website. This whole article is embarrassing for Smashing, Adobe and yourself and will never convince me to buy such boldly featured product.

          • 81

            Michel Bozgounov

            May 23, 2010 2:24 am

            Will you buy Adobe Photoshop CS5, if tomorrow Smashing Magazine publishes an extended review for it? Or will you blame Smashing Mag for publishing the review, because it highlights the new features of latest Photoshop, and lets the users decide if they would like to try it or upgrade to it?

            I think it’s time to close the discussion since it’s not very useful…

          • 82

            “Go on producing high volumes of shite websites with no soul and please don’t call yourself a designer because for designers time should not matter.” – I’m betting that for my clients, it does. Yes, actual clients, as opposed to people who look at a website and claim that it has a soul – i.e. other designers.

          • 83

            Oh here we meet Falk the great designer who earns million dollars!!! Glad to meet u arse hole

      • 84

        Falk, You sir, are a legend.

    • 85

      Couldn’t agree more with you J.

      Ive used both Fireworks and Photoshop for years, the only reason I use Fireworks is to use specific features, like alpha transparency.

    • 86

      I see: so if you get Fireworks, then you’ll blaze through all your work… and then not be able to stop, and die a violent death.

  28. 87

    i’ll love it :)

  29. 88

    Great article on fireworks! I would have to say fireworks, for webdesign, is far better than any other programs.

    And I believe the compound shapes function was out since cs3 :)

    • 89

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 11:30 pm

      Nope, Compound Shapes is a new tool introduced in version CS5. :)

      • 90

        Oh maybe I am confused. In CS3 and CS4 you can go to modify -> and combine paths, but is this a different tool?

        • 91

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 23, 2010 11:13 pm

          Yes, this is a different tool, indeed. Modify > Combine Paths > … combines paths in a destructive way. The new Compound Shapes allow to combine several vector objects in a non-destructive way.

          Both ways of combining vector objects (each way his own advantages and disadvantages) can be used now and this gives much more flexibility to the designer. We’ll shed some more light on the subject soon! :)

  30. 92

    Thank you Michel,
    It is nice to know what others think of this in such detail. I have been using FireWorks for a long time now ( Not that I wanted to switch over Nathan ;) ) and I can not imagine using anything else.

  31. 93

    James Brocklehurst

    May 22, 2010 12:45 pm

    Has anyone used the new CSS export feature – is it up to much or does it create non-semantic non-standard code like CS4?

    • 94

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 10:53 pm

      The CSS export in Fireworks CS5 is much improved (compared to CS4). But the main purpose of the CSS export feature is to quickly create a clickable prototype — this is a very useful feature and Fireworks is almost unique in its ability to export as HTML/CSS code (and images) the design you are working on. However, do not forget that good production code can be created by a human coder only. Yes, Dreamweaver and Fireworks can automatically create HTML/CSS for you, but the code will be far from perfect.

      For best results, create the code yourself, and use Fireworks only to help you in the process of creating a design (and the prototypes). Btw, you can try the new CSS export feature yourself — Fireworks CS5 is free to try for 30 days, or perhaps you already own it, in case you upgraded to Design Premium CS5 or Web Premium CS5.

  32. 95

    Josef Richter

    May 22, 2010 1:10 pm

    how about open type features? finally there?

    • 96

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 22, 2010 11:34 pm

      Open Type font format? Fireworks CS5 supports perfectly both .ttf and .otf fonts. Or perhaps I do not understand your question?…

  33. 97

    Ben Wildner

    May 22, 2010 1:54 pm

    Great article. Helps me a lot!

  34. 98

    The author is right that Fireworks has a few helpful tricks that you can’t use in Photoshop. But from years of using both Fireworks and Photoshop (and the rest of the creative suite), I can honestly say I much prefer working in PS. Really it’s like comparing a Ferrari to a Toyota. The Toyota may be more economical for certain things, but it doesn’t have nearly the creative power of the Ferrari. Even if you opt for the Toyota’s economy, you’ll loose it when you have to travel back and forth to PS for the features you need, such as better retouching, selection, blending, batching and content aware fill which is certainly useful in my web development work flow.

    Adobe’s decision to keep Fireworks around after buying Macromedia had nothing to do with it being the best tool for the job. Instead it has everything to do with maximizing profit. Adobe has much more to gain by maintaining many different apps that have a ton of feature overlap, but with a few unique features… just enough of them to make everyone need all the various apps. Computers are getting more powerful all the time. Why not make fewer more capable apps instead of repeating vast amounts of code/functionality in each one? Easy… the old strategy of divide an conquer. It is that simple and there’s no reason to defend them unless you like paying multiple thousands of dollars for software that could/should be far more reasonable.

    If you don’t believe me, than ask yourself why did they remove Image Ready from Photoshop? Instead of removing it, they could have just merged it with PS and added a few things over time like symbols and pages (which layer comps are a fine substitute as far as I’m concerned) and made it a little more object oriented. These kinds things would actually benefit print designers too. IMO Fireworks has evolved, but to me it’s still a very much cut back version of Photoshop. If you’re a professional, than you’re willing to pay more for better tools (although lately it’s become ridiculous). If you don’t have the money, or don’t want to spend it I would seriously consider open source products like Gimp which are a lot more capable than most people realize.

    • 99

      @ J

      I agree with your opinion of Fireworks vs. Photoshop. I much more prefer Photoshop when creating a website. I ran in to the same problem of delving deeper into editing details when using Fireworks in CS1. Sounds like not much has changed since then, in this aspect. My simple equation: Photoshop + Dreamweaver = Pixel-Perfect Website

      • 100

        Michel Bozgounov

        May 22, 2010 11:41 pm


        ImageReady was a terrible product and almost no one used it. Fireworks, on the other hand, is a great tool that is used by many design professionals. And comparing Fw and Ps is not the point of this article, so I will put a dot here. :)


        There was never Fireworks version CS1! At the time Adobe released the first CS suite, Fireworks was property of Macromedia. And because you speak of Fireworks CS1, this tells me that you probably did not use Fireworks a lot — you should give Fireworks a try… or perhaps continue to use Photoshop, if that’s your tool of choice.

        • 101

          Any article of this nature is going to bring up Ps and Fw comparisons, weather that was its intended “point” or not.

          This is because many designers feel that the extra creative features photoshop gives far outweigh the fairly basic extra tools Fw brings (most of which have Ps alternatives, although I do accept that these can be a bit more time consuming to implement).

          Your article has taught me something, however. The next time the annoying client who refuses to sign off the design stage without being able to click on something pops up, ill probably grab fw and use it to stitch together a load of Ps comps.

        • 102

          Well I think it relates since this is an article about Fireworks and especially since there haven’t been many published by Smashing Magazine, people want to talk about it. Also, your article is about the latest FW upgrade, and you’ll notice my statements are about the evolution of FW and wonderment of why it’s still evolving ;) (disclaimer: I think everyone should happily go on using the tools they like, I just think we all would have been much happier had Adobe put its energy into the Web side of Photoshop rather than split it off to an inferior app. As I said Fireworks HAS evolved. But it isn’t as creative as PS and that’s what IMO is going to be your determining factor. If you’re an out of the box designer or likes freedom, you’ll choose PS. If you’re all about production, FW may be your best bet).

          Saying Image Ready was a terrible product is not a good argument because at the time Adobe bought Macromedia, Fireworks was equally as crappy. Web designers all had the same bad habits, and both encouraged them. Even then I still preferred Image Ready (not by a wide margin), because, clunky as it was, at least I could pretty seamlessly go back and forth between Photoshop. I would also disagree that no one used it. Lots of employers in my area (San Francisco) were asking for it and most web designers I knew were using it.

          A bit too glowy for me, but good article as far as what you set out to do (detail the upgrade).

          • 103

            Michel Bozgounov

            May 23, 2010 11:59 pm

            If you speak of Fireworks as of “inferior app” (inferior to Photoshop?), this means you do not have enough experience with it, or you did not see enough good examples of both Fw vector and Fw vector+bitmap work. I was planning to give more examples in a future tutorial, but for now, take a quick look at the following 5 illustrations, achieved from A to Z in Fireworks:

            Color Powered (illustration by Lucian Dragomir)
            Compass (illustration by David Hogue)
            Firefox logo (illustration by Jon Hicks, for the Mozilla Foundation)
            Fireworks wallpaper (illustration by Mikko Vartio)
            xd brownbag poster (illustration by Ryan Hicks)

            As you can see, in the right hands, Fireworks can be a flexible and versatile tool. Add to this its wireframing and prototyping capabilities, its powerful vector tools, re-usable symbols, pages and master pages, and you can see that in fact, Fireworks is not only fast, but also allows the designer to achieve beautiful visual results! :)

            Now, let me try again to put a dot here, because the article really is not about Fw vs. Ps., but rather about the latest version of Fireworks, CS5. :)

        • 104

          @Michel Bozgounov

          You’re right… I remember now that Fireworks was part of Macromedia when I started learning it. I hardly used Fireworks, and am not really interested in picking it back up. I’m very comfortable with PS. Thanks for the correction.

          • 105

            Michel Bozgounov

            May 24, 2010 10:27 am

            Thanks for the clarification!

            My equation is Fireworks + Dreamweaver = pixel-perfect design. Everyone has its preferred tools and workflows! :)

  35. 106

    I’ve been using Fw for 10 years now and would never turn back to Ps. The simple truth is that it’s just the right tool for the job. If you’re editing photos, use Ps; if you’re designing a logo, use Ill; and if you’re designing a web application, use Fw.

    However, Fw CS4 was filled with bugs….it’s really hard for me to throw down the bills for a new version, after Adobe have finally fixed most of the problems with CS4

  36. 107

    Nice article. I’d love to read similar ones about Photoshop CS5 and Dreamweaver CS5.

  37. 108

    Up until about 6 months ago, I didn’t realize that Adobe was still developing Fireworks. I thought that Fireworks had disappeared. When I first used Fireworks (CS1), it was a pain to use. After my first encounter with 4 months of using Fireworks, I dropped it and haven’t used it since. I can’t understand why anyone would like to create a website using Fireworks.

    Has Fireworks really improved? Why continue developing Fireworks when the other Adobe products do just fine?

  38. 110

    I started using Fireworks for web design around 10 years ago. None of my clients have complained. I only ever open Ps if there is some real detailed graphical illusions that I need to achieve. But honestly, most websites in the real world don’t need these sorts of graphics. The developers I work with are used to working with PSDs, but they are amazed at the designs I achieve with Fireworks. I think Ps is great for complex visualisations, but Fw is great for making great looking websites quickly and easily.

    • 111

      I agree. For me PS is a photo editing app and artsy brushes repository.

  39. 112

    I used to use Fireworks on the Mac when it was part of Macromedia. Since then it has become a dog with an unresponsive interface. Whilst CS5 is a good attempt at this, there are certain things that hang and clicks that do not come through. On the PC it might be fine, but on the Mac it is still that dirty little dog with a bad attitude.

    The performance and 900+ bug fixes that did in the CS5 release should have been made to CS4 and we should be seeing new features in this release which benefit web designers. CS4 was almost unusable for a long time with it’s text selection issue (amongst other problems).

    It just seemed like Adobe left this one out to die and now want to charge you for a product that should have worked 2 years ago. Shame on you Adobe. We don’t want content aware whatever in Photoshop, we want proper font/character styles like Indesign and Illustrator. We don’t want some coolwhizbang whatever we might use once every 6 months that can impress people but go largely unused in the real world – we want vector objects. We care that if you say you’re going to support SVN in Dreamweaver then support the current versions (referring to CS4 and not supporting SVN 1.6)…

    Sorry for the rant, but I’ve seen Adobe for what they really are… a company that are more concerned about making money in their monopoly than improving the lives of the people and companies that use it (being innovators). I hope AutoDesk or some independent software house starts making killer apps to take on Adobe – maybe they will get their act together.

  40. 114

    Michel, this whole article is very very misplaced on a website such as Smashing Magazine. I am rather disappointed at this staged “Advertising feature”. All your comments and how keen you are to defend Adobe and the product you are helping to advertise clearly show how much you are involved with Adobe.

    How can someone claim that they are “independent” if they mention Adobe as client number 3 on their own portfolio website? [] Who are you kidding on? I think someone less biased should have written an article about this because you are clearly not doing anything to promote this product but the longer this discussion goes on the more you are unveiled as some bold marketing bomber out to cover us with tons of bla bla arguments (let me mention “niche product”). Even if I had been remotely interested in using this product, “unbiased reviews” like this one will just kill any interest… Credibility? Fail!

    • 115

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 23, 2010 2:17 am


      I have written a tutorial for Adobe, so they were once my client. And I am proud of it! On the other hand, I am indeed an independent design professional who uses Adobe Fireworks, every day.

      Or aren’t you using Photoshop? Perhaps this makes you a non-independent design professional? ;-)

      I am not involved with Adobe, but I use some of their products. All of us do use their products, let’s face it. And one of the most important products in my daily workflow is Fireworks — I was using Fireworks since the Macromedia days. Fireworks CS5 is much better than previous versions, so I wanted to highlight the best new features that are present in it. Hopefully my review will be useful to many designers who would like to try Fireworks CS5!

      If you do not like Fireworks or if you find my review not helpful, that’s fine. Simply move on to other articles and stop spending your time for something you don’t like or need… :)

      • 116

        You call someone “client” as soon as they pay you for your services. And that Adobe is paying you just doesn’t make you independent when you are reviewing their products. And the fact that even your wife announces the arrival of Fireworks CS5 on her own blog website, garnished by a couple of praising sentences, makes this whole article even more dodgy.

        As I said, things like this will just make me stop even thinking about using Fireworks.
        I understand that Smashing Magazine is struggling with the expenses running a website like this but I think a biased review defeats the purpose of writing a review.

        • 117

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 23, 2010 3:02 am

          As I already said — will you stop using Photoshop if tomorrow Smashing Mag publishes an extended review of Photoshop CS5, and it is favourable? I don’t think so. :)

          I use Fireworks for all my professional design needs and I think it is a great (but a bit underrated) product. I don’t care if Adobe owns the program or Macromedia (sadly, Macromedia is no more…) — I would continue to use Fireworks, because it allows me to put my ideas on canvas more quickly and easily than Ps or Ai.

          Finally, instead of waisting so much energy in posting comments here, I would suggest you to write your own review of Fireworks or Photoshop, and then share the link with us. Now that would be useful! :)

          • 118

            This would probably not work since I am not such a brown nose and, on top of this, am able to back up my own opinion rather than what a company tells me. Reviews are supposed to be unbiased. SmashMag has never done an article like this. They would review and compare software from different coders (eg. Flash vs Silverlight etc) but never review Adobe (or any other company) alone to describe how well they have developed from one software version to another. Yes, there a loads of list of “best Photoshop effects” etc but they are clearly collected by people with a flair of design rather than someone who knows how to advertise a product.

            You seem to be going on about the fact how great Fireworks is (which I have understood now, so thanks) but you are missing the big picture here. In print publications publishers have to clearly state if what they send to print is an advertising features. However, online media seem to go a different way. There have been websites who ignored these trends (one of which was Smashing Magazine) but these become fewer and fewer.

            All regular Smashing readers know that money is tight. We are buying books to help, but obviously other means have to be explored in Berlin. I would be (and I am sure many of us are) prepared to pay a monthly subscription fee of €10 to read articles on Smashing Magazine that are written for users with interest in real issues and not to see comparisons a la version X vs version Y. Information like this can be easily obtained by visiting one of the many Adobe product presentations or their website.

            And now, I am waiting for you, dear Michel, that you run through hundreds of archive pages to proof me wrong, to proof that indeed Smashing has published a biased article like yours before, referring to one companies product without comparing it to other companies’ products. You always have an answer to every (FW related) problem so I am looking forward to this.

        • 119

          Smashing Editorial

          May 23, 2010 12:35 pm

          Dear Falk,

          this article was not an advertising feature. It is not a sponsored post, and Adobe doesn’t have anything to do with it – we would never publish things like this on Smashing Magazine. I do see your point though. The goal was to provide an objective review of feature and possibilities of Adobe Fireworks, and it seems that this article failed to meet this objective.

          Thank you for your feedback, we will consider it for the future posts.

          • 120

            This is outrageous. Neither Smashing Magazine nor the author of this article has anything to apologize for. Rise above the peanut gallery, don’t apologise to them. If “Falk” is so offended by the article let him take his self-important bickering to some other site.

          • 121

            For heavens sake someone tell Falk to buzz off and write about something else – I think an enthusiastic article about a product the author clearly enjoys using is only going to inspire people to try it for themselves – which is free for 30 days and make up their own minds.
            I think bloated opinions, bitchy comments and shorthand swearing are clearly an indication of a limited intellect and a seriously insecure designer.
            Smashing Magazine – shame on you for not supporting Michel here. As a user of Fireworks (yes I am biased) I found this article extremely helpful. Many of the gripes I have with CS4 have been addressed in CS5 and overall improvements made, but no I’m not rushing out to buy the latest version – as judging by this article the leaps made although useful are not enough to warrant it. I was able to make an informed decision based on this well written and informative article!

          • 122

            Well this is really old but I just thought I’d point something out. You can’t write an objective review of anything. All you can do is point out your experience with a product, and try to be clear as to how you connected with it. If done properly people will see that your experience is relevant to their view or not. That’s all there is to it.

        • 123

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 23, 2010 1:52 pm


          Yes, my review is biased because I am passionate about what I write — I am passionate about Fireworks, I have been testing and using Fw CS5 quite a while, and I know this version very good. So I highlighted its main new features/strengths and tried to be helpful to other designers that would like to know more about version CS5.

          No, Adobe have nothing to do with this article.

          Yes, the article is my personal review, and reflects what I think about the program and its features. My review is based on my personal experience with the program.

          In a next article about Fireworks, I will probably try to mention a few things that are not so good about the program, and not highlight only its best features. I hope this will make you feel more at ease! ;)

          Now, can we safely “smoke the pipe of peace and bury the tomahawk of war”? :)

  41. 124

    Erwin Heiser

    May 23, 2010 2:36 am

    This whole article almost feels like a paid for by Adobe advertisement.
    Fireworks CS5 *IS* better than CS4, but that really isn’t saying much: Fireworks CS4 was the buggiest software I ever had on any of my Macs.

    • 125

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 23, 2010 3:08 am


      This is a paid article, indeed, but it is paid by Smashing Magazine, so Adobe has nothing to do with it! ;)

      You should try Fireworks CS5. It is not only more stable than CS4, but it has also some nice new features that you might enjoy! And, btw, Adobe released two updates for Fw CS4/Mac (10.0.3, 10.0.4):
      — make sure your copy of Fireworks CS4 is updated, because a lot of the stability issues were addressed by these patches!

    • 126

      Machteld Ouwens

      May 25, 2010 3:09 am

      Completely agree, on my mac CS4 crashes and its slow, even with all the updates installed. I love Fireworks but I hate the bloatware that Adobe has created. CS5 should have been a (nearly) free release.

  42. 127

    I have been a fan of Fw for years now, and continue to use it for as much as I can – like another poster above only switching to Ps for effects that may be a little bit outside the Fw remit. I then pull it all back into Fw as the workflow (in my opinion) is built for the web design process. I would be a very happy bunny if Adobe were to include a couple of new features so that this temporary switch could be avoided, enhanced layer effects (I too am disappointed with the Photoshop Live Effects) and support for brushes like photoshop.

    My feeling is that these are the two main features lacking in Fw and Adobe may be worried that by building them in there would be a rapid reduction in the sales of Ps/Ai.

    The arguments above that focus on the price of the product just don’t stand up for me, surely decisions should be based on workflow and efficiency rather than how much you can spend on a piece of software? Why spend 1k+ on something just to feel more at home amongst your peers when you could get the work done well paying less out, and go on holiday with the time and money saved!! :)

    @Falk – I don’t use matches, or a lighter for that matter – I am of a modern age where I can simplify things and bring light with the flick of a switch. The whole concept of articles like this is to gain insight into the opinions of other users and professionals in the industry. I take your points on board about how it doesn’t work for you, thats fine. In turn though, you should allow others the opportunity to share their opinions, and respect their input to the discussion.

    • 128

      Okay, you are right. I was probably overshooting the mark with my comments because really, I personally don’t care if someone uses Fireworks or Ps/Ai.

      What I did not understand (and infuriated me) is how this article can be so biased in the first place and come across so heavily advertising the Adobe product that I think it should not be a review. The author/publishing website etc clearly have a hidden agenda with this and I think it is very misleading to potential customers using SmashingMag. And as my comments with regards to the author (and his wife) heavily advertising Fireworks CS5 on their own private pages (or calling Adobe “client”) have been ignored, makes this whole thing look very dodgy for Smashing. This website used to be source of independent articles highlighting BOTH positives and negatives of a new product. This article, however, is not reviewing – it is advertising. The point is, if I want to read an advertising piece, I will click one of the banners to the right. What I don’t want is reading pseudo-investigative reviews that turn out to be heavily Adobe-fied.

      I am sorry if I insulted any of you Fireworks users, it really had nothing to do with Fireworks itself. It was probably the disappointment in SmashMag that typed those sentences…

  43. 129


    May 23, 2010 4:57 am

    Warning ! This post is for FireWorks lovers only….yes. I´m one of them

  44. 130

    What really turned me off from using Fireworks (even in CS4 version) was the awful way it was rendering GIFs. There was a very noticeable difference that made it impossible to use. I still have CS2 ImageReady installed so I can cut designs and have decent looking GIFs. Is that aspect resolved in CS5?

    • 131

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 23, 2010 7:30 am

      Renders or exports GIFs?

      Fireworks perfectly reads the GIF format; it can also export to GIF and GIF Animated file formats, with either Exact or Adaptive palettes. Please, run a trial of Fireworks CS5 and see if you see any issues! :)

      (There is also a know problem when Fireworks sometimes uses less than 256 colors when exporting to GIF; this problem was not addressed by CS5, but luckily, it doesn’t happen that often…)

      • 132

        It’s that export in Adaptive palette that looks particularly bad compared to ImageReady (or Photoshop’s) Perceptual and Adaptive ones. Not only gradients showed banding, but fonts also looked like they were gnawed on the edges, especially when using small sizes. I remember how much different those two programs handled Gif export and how using the same settings I’d get noticeably worse results in FW CS4, so having to use Gif format quite often, I had to completely ditch Fireworks CS4. I’ll try CS5 when I get to it, I’d use it mainly for cut up jobs after designing in Photoshop anyway.

  45. 133

    Aaron Somek

    May 23, 2010 5:58 am

    Thanks for the article, I have CS5 installed on my laptop to try out ad so far I like it. Still using CS4 on my desktop as I don’t want to screw with my workflow just yet if CS5 bombs out.

    Can someone PLEASE tell me why Fireworks continues to come preloaded with it’s own unique keybinds? Ps Ai and In all stick pretty close together, yet Fw has a totally different layout. Is this a holdover from the Macromedia days?

    I realise I can rebind, but CS4, the buggy little beast it is, has a tendancy to wipe my profile if I sneeze facing east. It’s a pretty huge speedhump in my workflow jumping from app to app and having to use separate commands to alter the layer z-depth.

    • 134

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 23, 2010 7:16 am

      You can simply switch keyboard shortcut schemes:

      Go to menu Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts > Current Set: [Web Standard] (this is the default Fireworks shortcut set) and then change Web Standard to Illustrator or Photoshop. Easy!

      As to why Fireworks comes preloaded with its own default shortcut set: Yes, this is from Macromedia days. But even different Adobe apps have different shortcut sets, so this is perfectly normal. I am used to Fireworks shortcuts, though, so I prefer them.

      But in case you prefer the shortcuts of Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign, you can either switch to a different scheme with two clicks only, or you can create a copy of your current shortcut set, customize it to suite best your needs and then transfer it to Fireworks CS5.

      This short tutorial as to how transfer to CS5 (and backup) your shortcuts may be useful to you:

      Hope this helps!

  46. 135

    I have tried Fireworks CS4 – being excited about learning a new tool to integrate into my workflow. Unlike some of the posts – I have never quite recovered from the lose of ImageReady. What is left in Ps is decent – just not a good flow.

    However – Fw is like a foreign language. I just can’t get the hang of working it into my workflow. It’s almost too different of a program (yet I don’t mind working in flash – so go figure.)

    My question – are there tutorials out there that may help? I initially tried Lynda,com – but again – I’m back to Ps and Dw as I am used to working in them. But would really concentrate on making the switch if there were economies to be gained from doing so.

    It may end up that I have a workflow that I am happy with – and thats all I really need to concentrate on. But – if there were a serious advantage to Fw mockups over Ps mockups – I’d have to take a closer look.


  47. 137

    I don’t get FW, never have. Make the prototype in photoshop, get approval from the client, cut it up, and immerse yourself in html/css till it works. Easy, peasy.

  48. 138

    Thanks Michel ~ one other comment… I think a review of this nature is perfectly relevant to Smashing. Finding Smashing Magazine was was like stumbling upon the holy grail of design chatter. I haven’t found a source yet that approaches articles the way SM does – or in such a manner that appeals to the graphic designers and developers we all are.

    The MIZ – I agree with you – but at the same time – what I do see in Fw that I like – I may just have not gone to the lengths of finding equivalent tools in Ps.

    Example – I use common elements all the time. I recreate them all the time. I can do it with my eyes closed I’ve done it so much – but the point is – Fw has a library where they can be stored and used in multiple projects. Ps may have that capability – but I haven’t really looked whereas Fw is built around capabilities like that. If – I can shave minutes off a project – it may be worth the learning curve (or even build and store in FW to copy and paste in Ps. :^)

  49. 139

    Allahverdi Sefihanov

    May 23, 2010 8:42 am

    Forever FW!
    I have been saying this for years to all web or print designers but they always asks me why are you using Fireworks to design? They think Photoshop is much better.

    Of course PS is better for PHOTO editing, but not for web design. FW is much faster than PS in designing web layouts.

    And of course I’m glad that CS5’s performance is much better than CS4’s. CS4 was really slow and heavyweight and I didn’t even use CS4, continuing to design in CS3.

    But after reading this post I think I will leave CS3 and start to use CS5

  50. 140

    Hurray! CS5 Rocks… But I still miss the “Text Editor” option… :( Am I the only person missing it?

    • 141

      Allahverdi Sefihanov

      May 23, 2010 9:54 pm

      I agree with you… I can’t understand why Adobe does not add this property to FW. in PS this exists

    • 142

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 24, 2010 8:23 pm

      Text Editor was removed in Fw CS4, due to the fact that the Adobe Type Engine was integrated in this version (Fireworks CS3 and older versions had the Macromedia Type Engine, Fw CS4 and Fw CS5 use the Adobe Type Engine). I am not sure exactly why, but Text Editor had to be removed because of the move towards ATE. A few other text options were lost when the new ATE was integrated in Fireworks (for example, Right-to-Left text orientation), but some others were added — like better compatibility with other Adobe products, and now new features for working with text that can speed up your work with text substantially…

      • 143

        what about right to left languages like hebrew?
        Does FW CS5 have an option for that?


        • 144

          Michel Bozgounov

          September 27, 2010 8:44 am

          Fireworks had such an option, but since Adobe decided to implement in Fireworks CS4 the ATE (Adobe Type Engine) — the type engine that is also available in other Adobe products (mainly, Photoshop and Illustrator), the support for right-to-left languages is no more available.

          This means, Fireworks does not support R-to-L languages in versions CS4 and CS5, but previous versions of Fireworks (Fireworks CS3, Fireworks 8, Fireworks MX2004 and earlier) do support R-to-L languages — this is because Fireworks CS3 and earlier had the Macromedia Type Engine in it, and the Macromedia engine had built-in support for R-to-L…

          Yep, I know sounds not good but that’s the way it is — seems Macromedia did things better in some ways, than Adobe…

          Let’s hope that R-to-L support will be back at some point. Meanwhile, the only workaround I can suggest to you is (in case you have somewhere a copy of Fw CS3 or earlier), is to copy R-to-L text from it and paste it in latest Fireworks CS5 — the text direction will be preserved, unless you try to edit it in CS5.

          Hope this helps…

      • 145

        Krurt Kombajn

        April 29, 2011 12:21 am

        Jesus Christ – who cares?! TEXT EDITOR – for me – was the best for this unique ability which I do not see in “your” new and better blah-blah-blah: when I select some text, opened TEXT EDITOR (in CS3) and been changing fonts it showed me INSTANTLY that selected text with that ACTUAL CHANGED FONT and I just had focussed the list of fonts in the editor and just scrolling thru them with arrow keys (quick, easy, effective!), but now in your “better text engine and blah-blah-blah” I have not this option so when I want to find which font suits the best for my needs I need to reselect that text and change the font for every single one of them…and I got them for thousands!!!!!!!!!!!! But, hell, yeah: we have better Adobe integration…hah, what a joke!!!! ADOBE SHAME ON YOU!

  51. 146

    Great points, MorayWeb! Photoshop was meant to be for photo manipulation, effects, graphic designers, photographers, etc, but not for web. I believe there are a lot of designers out there so stubborn because they knew Photoshop to design web sites what they didn’t know how fast you can create a website in Fireworks and how easily to organize layers… And click an object on the document instantly to find your layer regardless if the objects are overlapping each others… It was very frustrating to do that in Photoshop. And I use Photoshop to clip out images and create some effects only. Photoshop just needed to include that in Fireworks then more web designers will appreciate Fireworks. Also I used Photoshop mainly for my photography work only.

  52. 147

    Fireworks CS5 does crash less than CS4, which is nice. It does however, still crash far more frequently than Photoshop or Illustrator, still, I will take the improvements happily.

    However, one bug that is crippling to productivity still remains, and that is vector points shifting sub pixel amounts, often after doing nothing but saving. This may not be critical for some, but I am designing graphics for very small screens where every pixel counts, and when lines that are supposed to be crisp suddenly fall on sub pixel amounts and get antialiased, it is very noticable.

    When this happens to a file upon saving, and I have an entire theme or module mocked up in that file, it will often take longer to fix these sub pixel shifts than it did to create the graphics.

    • 148

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 24, 2010 8:09 pm

      …vector points shifting sub pixel amounts, often after doing nothing but saving…

      This is strange and it should not happen. Are you having such troubles with Fw CS5 new PNG files, or editing and then saving files created in an earlier version of Fireworks? Does it happen only once, or it may happen a few times, when working in a file and then saving it?

      In my experience, I have seen lines to suddenly fall on sub-pixels, but this happens only sometimes and only after I have applied some transformations to the object (or objects). The new Snap-to-Pixel feature is intended to fix such problems in one click, and it really works — just select the object that appears blurry (one or more of the vector lines/points of the object are between whole pixels) and use Modify > Snap-to-Pixel (or cmd/ctrl+K), and the problem is solved.

  53. 149

    Fireworks has always been the underrated king of interface design, web design and basically any aspect of creating websites. It’s ability to export a plethora of formats and smaller file sizes of PNG files is only scratching the surface. Fireworks doesn’t get enough love, Adobe have even basically hidden it on their site making it difficult to find, might be different now though after I sent them an email.

  54. 150

    Thanks for the article, was great to a see a proper list rather than the info Adobe has given us.

    I have to say I’m a big lover of Fireworks, and rely on it solely for designing for the web.

    It seems to me that many people just don’t ‘get’ it. They learn Photoshop in the early days, and that’s all they’ll stick too. They forget that Adobe has created a suite of products, each one for a different use. I used to be the same, Photoshop for EVERYTHING, but now I’ve dramatically improved my workflow using a mix of all the programs.

    It’s one thing spending 6 hours doing a kick-ass design in Photoshop, but when I come in and deliver the exact same design, pixel perfect, in less that 2 hours with Fireworks, who’s your boss/client going to be most pleased with?

    For those arguing for a ‘mega-product’ – I think thats a crazy idea, imagine the price, learning curve, operating speed, and overall confusion with a massively bloated product.

  55. 151

    Goh Wei Choon

    May 24, 2010 1:15 am

    Great review, I’m still using CS3, and seriously looking forward to making the jump. What I’ve always saw Fireworks as was a sort of middle-ground between Photoshop and Illustrator, and I have used it primarily since I started doing design 9 months ago. It’s ease of use, coupled with great flexibility has made it invaluable.

    I agree about the comments regarding integration, and that maybe Adobe should cool it with Fireworks. What I would really look forward to seeing Fireworks become is an all-in-one application, that can handle everything that is thrown at us. It does an admirable job so far, but I still find myself switching back to Photoshop and Illustrator sometimes.

    I think it has to be evolution, with small steps of improvements, rather than a revolutionary overhaul; but I would LOVE to see Adobe really taking Fireworks forward, especially on the exporting end, to make Fireworks able to read (and export) a huge variety of filetypes.

  56. 152

    Re: Property Inspector: “and compared to CS4, the “refresh” times are reduced, especially on Windows” – Well, they couldn’t be much worse. Clicking between a text object and a rectangle on my 64-bit quad-core system with 8Gb of RAM and no other applications running led to a 4 second delay in CS4.

    Made me drop back to CS3, quite frankly – as refreshing the property inspector in that was instant.

    • 153

      @Ken, I have the same issue with Dreamweaver CS4, takes literally seconds sometimes to refresh the properties panel, and then I have to double check to make sure it is correct. It is soo buggy. AND no updates. So CS5 is the bug update?

      I have heard and believe that flash powers all these adobe panels, to the detriment of the user..

  57. 154

    Pete, Why come on here and lie? Barefaced bullshit like suggesting the same design can be achieved, pixel for pixel, in 2 hours in Fw compared to 6 Hours in Ps is total unsubstantiated bullshit.

    • 155

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 24, 2010 1:59 am


      Please try to keep the discussion focused (the article is about Fireworks CS5’s new features) and polite — no need to use words like “bu**sh*t”. Thanks! :)

    • 156

      Colourful language.

      The reason I can make that claim is through real life experience. Thanks.

    • 157

      ohhh ur hurt there??? lmao! DIE

  58. 158

    I think what is leading many people to view this article as an advertorial is the lack of balance in highlighting new features without any fair reference to the major bugs in CS4 which caused many designers a lot of time, headaches and lost work.

    It became clear with the slow pace of point updates that Adobe were never going to address CS4 users complaints, and would much rater force generational paid upgrades. But the fundamental nature of some of the bugs in CS4 (also sold on performance and bug-fixes from CS3) were so frustrating that I think Adobe have lost credibility on this issue now.

    Yes I installed all updates, no they didn’t improve my experience of CS4. Of course I could go use something else if there were any descent competition. But like the author, I really like Fireworks way of doing things and want the improvements CS5 brings. But I’m mad as hell at the disregard for users shown by Adobe which amounts to another “screw the users for more cash” IMO.

    • 159

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 24, 2010 5:16 am


      Unfortunately I cannot but agree with you, with some of your points, at least! Fireworks CS4 was not a good release. It was much slower than any previous version of Fireworks, it had a lot of bugs (especially on the Mac side), it was often unstable. Adobe released a few patches for CS4 (10.0.3 for Win/Mac and 10.0.4 for Mac), but it seems that not every stability problem could be fixed by the patches…

      I have to avow that I used Fw version CS4 a lot less than CS3/CS5. I really didn’t like it.

      But yes, my article is not an advertorial. Like you, I really like Fireworks’ way of doing things and want the improvements CS5 brings — frankly, I think that this is one of the best Fw releases up to now. I still haven’t found a program that combines so well the ease of use and creative power, that Fireworks gives to the designer. I just wish Adobe would invest more money and development resources into Fireworks — this will be good for both Adobe users and for Adobe itself…

    • 160

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 24, 2010 5:33 am

      And one more thing — you are right about the lack of balance in the article (to be frank, sometimes I wish Fw CS4 was skipped and never released). So I was much more excited by CS5, which gave me hope that Adobe will finally give Fireworks some love. I hope in future articles of mine I’ll be able to write in a more balanced way, so thanks for your comment! :)

  59. 161

    Does it have any support for colour profile management yet?

    • 162

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 24, 2010 10:25 am

      Fireworks is for screen design, and it supports RGB colors only. Color profiles may be needed only if you use the application for print. Am I right?

      • 163

        I often have to work PSDs with embedded colour profiles… but Fireworks doesn’t know what to do with them. Would be great if it had the same colour management that Photoshop does.

        • 164

          Michel Bozgounov

          May 24, 2010 7:31 pm

          Being an application that strictly focuses on design for Web/screen (RGB colors), color profiles are something that would be not very useful in Fireworks. I think that perhaps a good idea is to remove the color profiles from the PSDs before bringing them to Fw — RGB/RGBa is the only color management that you need for perfect screen output!

          Color profiles define how Photoshop interprets the raw color data in your files. That’s right: That means they change how you see the colors. This kind of precision is great for photography and print design, but it’s got to go if we’re making a website.

          via ~ The Mysterious “Save For Web” Color Shift

          — This is a very useful article bout Ps color profiles (I’ve found it a while ago, thanks to Dan Cederholm) and I think it might be useful to you and many other designers! :)

  60. 165

    Excellent article.

    Thanks for pointing out not only the new features, but why so many of us rely on Fireworks, even if we use Illustrator & Photoshop. Believe me, I use Illustrator & PS regularly. I know them inside and out, and I love them for more complex artwork that I create (digital painting/illustration, photo retouching/manipulation) but when designing sites or web-related images, that Fireworks is the ultimate choice when it comes to efficiency & productivity. I’ve converted many coworkers who used to only use PS after showing them how I could run circles around them on the same projects.

    Every one of these apps has a purpose. Fireworks is no exception (especially in a fast-paced environment). I’m glad Adobe realizes this and has continued to improve upon it.

  61. 166

    I am not a Fireworks user. But I do like how the article was structured. I think it’s important to see the actual improvements because you have to decide if spending a huge chuck of money on a product that is constantly coming out with new versions is actually worth it.

  62. 167

    Thank you for the great article, Michel.

    I too have been using Fireworks since the Studio 8 days and I love it. Our company just ordered the CS5 upgrade and I can’t wait to dive in. I’m a web designer/developer and also a part-time instructor teaching Fireworks CS4. I will use PS occasionally, but prefer FW because it suits my needs best. I have nothing negative to say about PS or any other Adobe app for that matter. It’s really all about user preference, and IMO all these negative comments just take away from what the article is all about.

  63. 168

    Jon Campbell

    May 24, 2010 11:13 am

    I started using Macromedia Fireworks and Dreamweaver 2 when I got the suite for Christmas in 99. I have used Fireworks ever since and tried Photoshop multiple times but always find it to be not as easy to use, and definitely not as easy to edit when customers constantly request changes. I do go into photoshop sometimes to edit a photo or get a particular effect but mostly I use Fireworks or Inkscape for complex vectors.

    Fireworks has had so little recognition and I think the article is great for letting people know a bit more about Fireworks CS5.

  64. 169

    Kyle Keeling

    May 24, 2010 11:47 am

    I have always been hesitant to use Fireworks since I find I have way more control in Illustrator and Photoshop, but it sounds like these updates and upgrades are blending a lot of the key features I use. I think I will have to give Fireworks a shot.

    Thanks for the article.

  65. 170

    What’s going on with some of the commenters here? This is worst than a NY Post thread. Fireworks is a tool for designing websites. Don’t use it if you don’t like it or prefer your workflow. Some of us happen to swear by it. It’s all preference.

    Good article and thank you.

  66. 171

    A lot of people don’t understand that back then when Macromedia used to own Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Flash. They have created these applications mainly for web designers and developers. Adobe tried to compete with Macromedia by adding the slicing tools, optimizing images and Image Ready on Photoshop. They also came out Adobe GoLive and one more app that looked like Flash but all of them had fail to compete so Adobe ended up buying out Macromedia.

    Adobe tried to introduce Fireworks to web designers but a lot them are stubborn to switch over because graphic designers are used to design their work in Photoshop and their companies are forcing them to design websites as part of their job so the only app they are good at is Photoshop and they refused to use Fireworks. They don’t understand that Photoshop is mainly use for effects, picture manipulation, graphic designers, photographers, etc, but it is not the proper application to design web sites.

  67. 172

    Thierry Lorey

    May 25, 2010 2:13 am

    Hi Michel,
    Nice article and thank you for mentioning my articles. You can check all my Fireworks CS5 articles at:


  68. 173


    Yet they keep adding web design functionality to Photoshop. I was appalled at the CS5 webinar they did, where Fireworks didn’t even get a mention. Furthermore the Fireworks CS5 page was near impossible to find. I do feel for the Fireworks team as they seem to be under pressure to stay relevant. It seems like Adobe are quite happy for Photoshop to step on Fireworks’ feet but not the other way around.

    Personally I don’t know what I’d do without Fireworks. I open up Photoshop so many times as it’s all my company has. I try to do something that is so simple in Fireworks and then end up walking away frustrated as it is so cumbersome to do the same thing in PS.

    Hopefully FW CS5 won’t be the last but I’ll be using it to help me design website and interface for android applications so I’ll continue to root for it. (Miss you, Macromedia)

  69. 174

    Machteld Ouwens

    May 25, 2010 3:02 am

    Jesus is this sponsored by Adobe? Yes the update has some convenient improvements, but this really should have been a free update… they are basically admitting that their previous release was just buggy and slow… they made some fixes now and I have to pay hundreds of € for it? no way.

  70. 176

    I must confess that although I’ve worked at agencies where Fireworks is used by everyone, I’ve never really “got it”, and prefer PS for day to day web design. Truth is, it’s horses for courses, and certainly one of these agencies got some amazing design work done with FW, so I don’t doubt that in the right hands it’s a great tool.

    For me though, the list of FW CS5 improvements reads like a list of bugfixes rather than a definite vision of the way web design and layout software could be. In turn that means that I can’t find it within myself to pay £750 GBP to upgrade from CS3 to CS5 web premium. In those terms, it’s never going to make its money back.

    I’m hoping that before CS6 is out, we get some credible alternatives in this market – a Coda for web layouts, essentially. Truly modern and elegant software. Adobe could use the competition.

    You can read more thoughts on this at:

    Cheers all, keep doing great work whatever you use!


  71. 177

    Michel, thank you for the article. I personally love using FW for web design. And cannot imagine my work flow without this product. I dont think your article was written as advertising material for Adobe. There are so many similar articles written about Photoshop by bloggers but only articles which are written about what is good about FW “heating up” the Photoshop lovers emotions.

    I use all Adobe products for different tasks I need to do for my design work and I dont understand why “only Photoshop users” are getting so cooky and emotional when someone says that other programs could be in some way similar or even better then Photoshop.

    I guess, they are afraid that if Photoshop is going to loose the name “Ferrari of the design world”, they will loose ability of having extra inch in size of …. (you know what) when they are saying that their website was designed in Photoshop not FW (Toyota like dear Mr. J is comparing it to… I think Toyota lovers would not be very happy about his comment and argue that it is one of the best cars on the market). :)

    Please dont forget that both programs are made by the “Spyker” maker of the design software. So all Adobe products are great even they got bugs in them. We got bugs when we program simple website, so imagine programing something like Adobe software products! Give them some time and be patient. All softwares are getting only better with each upgrade.

    Lets face it, if you are a good designer, it doesn’t matter which software you are using to design. We are all different and world would be boring place if we didn’t have a choice in what we can use. So Photoshop lovers, please leave FW alone. Photoshop is a great product and keep using it if you want. Indeed it sounds like you are getting better value when you are saying that website was made in Photoshop and looking how or clients prefer .psd files to .png files, Photoshop will be the “Ferrari” for a long time. So don’t worry, you always will SOUND like better designers when you use Photoshop for designing websites.

    SM, thank you for your wonderful work and creating such a great source of good articles about design and a place for debates like this one. :)

    • 178

      Ha! Sounds like someone is a little passionate against passion ;) BTY, you missed my point dear… the main issue I am raising has more to do with the fact that Adobe now has a sprawling suite with a lot of feature overlap. Thus it’s a main reason why you and I must pay through the nose for our beloved creative suite. Point is Photoshop could have learned a few tricks from Fireworks and continued to evolve for the web, but they decided to freeze web support and put it into Fireworks instead, which allows them to raise the price on the Suite. Print and web are different (I design for both), but they have plenty of overlap. Funny I actually hesitated on the Ferrari analogy because I’m not a big fan of cliches. Actually it was a bad comparison, because I think Toyotas have more of a place in the world than FW ;0

      Drive whatever you like. The barn door is already open and the horse is out…

  72. 179

    Are Fireworks panels and the other CS5 apps panels still powered by flash? If so are the panels still very user unfriendly. Will it still crash every time I quit the application as Fireworks CS4 does?

    I am hesitant to give Adobe my money. I have serious issues with their ever worsening UI. And am looking for other tools>

    • 180

      Michel Bozgounov

      May 25, 2010 9:46 pm

      Actually, only some of the Fw panels are powered by Flash. And no, Fw CS5 won’t crash every time you quit the application (if you are on Mac, please install 10.0.4 update for CS4, it will fix your crash on quit issue).

  73. 181

    aravind ajith

    May 25, 2010 10:37 am

    I am a great fan of Fireworks since ver. 7. I have been using since then and recommending it to my fellow designers. I have also had a chance to meet the development team in person. They were so nice to me — they were keep asking for ideas to improve the tool and encouraged me to be keep in touch with them and send them a mail personally every time I find a problem. That’s how a development team should be.

    Although I missed CS4. I had to because it is not practical for me to update all the Adobe products every year. It will make a huge hole in my pocket. Anyway, looking forward to CS5. I am buying it!

  74. 182

    I’m sorry if this is too off topic, but my MAIN tools for employment are really starting to suck. I’ve been using DreamWeaver for over 10 years and in the CS4 variant It can literally take seconds for the properties panel to update when a new object is selected. I always have to double check the code.

    Relinking of files after a name change in the files panel works 60% of the time (this is on a pc running DW CS4 and a Mac running CS4), and yes I recreate the site cache.

  75. 183

    I was really excited for FW when my job upgraded to CS3 but after using it I hated everything about it and have used imageready since. I didn’t get the mashup ui, like a combination of the illustrator UI and old macromedia UI. Don’t have time to learn a new workflow, never mind the bugs. No thanks.

  76. 184

    I used Photoshop during years for web design projects. One day I decided I had to try Fireworks. Everyone said it didn’t make any sense, but if it’s still alive, there should be a good reason for that. So I started using it and quickly passed the learning phase. After a couple of hours I was already saying “why didn’t I think of this before?!”. Much faster than Photoshop. You can create thousands of layers without crashing. No more switching and turning layers on and off. The “pages”, “states” and “layers” association is awesome! Much like a flex application.

    At least for web design, things are just easier and much quicker with FW (not to mention the memory usage, Photoshop needs 10 gigatrilions of ram for common tasks). With FW you really feel the development process of the application. For those who are still using PS for web design, try FW now! You won’t get back.

  77. 185

    I have been using FW since MX. (I’m almost fossilized!, I know). I got a freelance gig onsite for a day, because I knew Dreamweaver. When I was able to do disjointed rollovers in Javascript with Fireworks (without knowing Javascript), they decided to keep me on for another 3 months. Do I like Fireworks? You bet I do!

    PS Photoshop lovers, it’s OK to like PS and FW at the same time. Unlike your spouse, they won’t get mad at you ;-)

  78. 186

    Quem não gosta do Fireworks é pq nunca usou o programa. Sempre há comparação entre Fireworks e Photoshop. São programas distintos. Se não perceberam, os 2 são produzidos pela Adobe.
    O CS5 realmente está bem mais rápido e com menos bugs.
    Pau no cu de quem não lê portugues.

  79. 187

    Great job dude! Very useful & detailed!

  80. 188

    I have tested this on trial thus far and have been very impressed – but then again, I love Fireworks and such a large proportion of my working time is spent within the Fireworks environment.

    I use Photoshop predominantly for image editing for sites now – obviously it’s strength in this and other areas make photoshop a powerful tool, but for rapid prototyping and design build with great vector / bitmap features and superb design object and layer handling, there is no match in my opinion for FW.

  81. 189

    Andre Reinegger

    May 31, 2010 1:51 am

    Hi Michel,

    Great article, thanks! Fireworks is always overlooked as the No.1 tool for web- and screendesign.

    Can’t believe the discussion about Photoshop vs. Fireworks. I always have to laugh when I take a look in books about “Photoshop for the web”. Using Photoshop for screendesign instead of Fireworks is like using Photoshop for printdesign instead of InDesign. There are no discussions or books out there about “Photoshop for magazine layouts”. Fireworks is for layout in web like InDesign is for Layouts in Print. Sure you will do this and that in Photoshop or Illustrator, but in the end you have to use Fireworks for layout pages, interactivity, prototypes and export. Else you have a lot of time and money to waste!!!

    I use PS for 13 years now and FW since 11 years, so I know both tools very well, I really know the differences and what I am talking about.

    I am very successful using Fireworks, while the competition is using Photoshop. A lot of clients an agencies I am working for are always surprised about how fast I do layouts and layout changes, because they only now designer using Photoshop before. They are very happy to see a interactive prototype of their future website online.

    So I hope articles like this will keep Fireworks in mind of people doing screendesign and it is not always overlooked.

  82. 190

    Alan Musselman

    June 1, 2010 7:42 am

    Good job Michel! Interesting how Smashing feels the objective of this article failed. I think you did a great job in writing about a product that you really like and helps save you time and money. Passion can go a looong way. ;-)

    • 191

      Michel Bozgounov

      June 1, 2010 8:21 am

      Hey Alan,

      Thanks for the comment! I do not think the objective of this article failed — quite the opposite: I presented Fireworks CS5 the best I could, highlighting most of the cool stuff in the new version. Yep, I am passionate about Fireworks, and I do not deny it. Some people (as you can see from the comments) are passionate about Photoshop or Illustrator. Each of us has a favourite design tool. Mine is Fireworks, and my goal was to show what’s good in v.CS5.

      Glad that you (and many other commenters) found my article useful!

  83. 192

    Well I just went ahead and purchased CS5. I went for the Design Premium suite. Fireworks is going to help me get a lot done this year, so thanks Michel for helping me to make up my mind, that and the free delivery.

    Also got that particular version due to InDesign which will help with the odd print request I keep getting. I’ve been seeing quite a bit that Fireworks is getting mentioned more and more as designers are starting to switch / come out of hiding. Maybe it will make Adobe stop looking down upon its step son it obtained through marriage with Macromedia. Dreamweaver wasn’t looked down upon as much, but Freehand was sent to an orphanage.

  84. 193


    if you want to code your page use Coda instead of Dreamweaver. I used to love Dreamweaver but I went on to use Coda and never went back.

  85. 194

    Have been using a trial version of CS5 for several days now and I’m sorry to say that the “out of memory” problems I’ve had with CS4 are not fixed. Without warning, here and there, the canvas starts going blank – big regions of dark gray appear, and the message “not enough memory” appears in the gray. I can still save, and then reopen my doc, so it’s not a work-destroying problem. But it does not inspire confidence, and I was really hoping to see it fixed.

    • 195

      Michel Bozgounov

      June 5, 2010 1:39 am

      Sorry to hear that “not enough memory” problem still exists for you! I have seen this bug too, in the past, but quite rarely — only when I use Fw extensively for a few hours and have lots of files open.

      You could help if you send some feedback to the Fw Team, so that they can investigate the issue, whenever possible. Thanks! :)

  86. 196

    Andre Reinegger

    June 6, 2010 5:02 am

    Specially for the people who don’t know the benefit on using Fireworks, I have recorded a video-tutorial to show you why Fireworks is the best layout tool for the web.

  87. 198

    I started using FW in CS3 and use CS4 now. Yeah it has some issues, but I think it’s a life saver. Ps and Ai are great too, but I see Fw as the glue between the two. I don’t think you should, even though you could, use Fw exclusively. There are time where it is better to create specific graphics in Ps or Ai and then import them back into your layout in Fw. Is that how most people use it?

    I consider Fw to be a prototyping tool for rapid design. Ps can do some neat stuff and can go beyond Fw in some aspects of graphic design with photos, but I find nothing rapid about it. Of course, that is relative to your experience with Ps. But, I’m still trying to figure some things out id Ps where Fw I pretty much fired it up and went to work. Much more intuitive than Ps was.

    Anyway, enough of that. The reason for my post was to ask a question or two. I haven’t read all the posts here so I hope this wasn’t asked already. I was reading in one exchange that a couple of posters were discussing the CSS export functionality. They were saying that the CSS that Fw exported was not production quality.

    In a few of my designs I did just that, and it worked almost perfectly. I did install an extension that gave CS4 better CSS export support, but I forget what it was called. I have a feeling that extension is now part of the source in CS5. Anyway, I basically make my master page the same as what my template will be in Dreamweaver. I export only the CSS for that master page to give me a head start on creating the Dreamweaver template. I always go in and make some hand edits to perfect a few things that Fw doesn’t get quite right, but it’s usually nothing huge.

    Once the template is done, everything else is done by hand. Is that a bad idea? Should I not even export the CSS for just the template, even though its very minimal?

    I will find this out soon enough on my own, but I will ask now anyway. Since Adobe Web Premium isn’t cheap, I try to use every bit of it to get my monies worth. That included using Bridge and Version Cue. I know this is super minor, but I do like how in Ps and Ai I can check-in files right from within the program to Version Cue and maintain versioning. Fw CS4 doesn’t have that function. I have to save and then go to Bridge and check it in to Version Cue. I never understood why Adobe did add that integration to Fw. I don’t guess the did in CS5 did they?

    Thanks and great stuff!

    • 199

      Michel Bozgounov

      June 19, 2010 5:51 am

      1) The CSS export in Fireworks CS5 is much better than in CS4. I don’t think that without performing some clean up, the code is ready to be called “production”, but looks like you know that already. Nothing wrong in using Fireworks for exporting CSS/HTML and using the code for production — as long as the tool works well for you, it’s fine to use it in any way that suits your workflow and goals! :)

      2) Can’t give you info on Version Cue and Bridge in CS5, sorry. I never use those apps…

      My suggestion would be to test Fireworks CS5 and see if it does work better for you. If yes, you might consider upgrading to it later… If no, stick with CS4! :)

      • 200

        Hey thanks! I did some investigation since my last post. It seems Adobe is not going forward with Version Cue any longer. They recommend switching to another vesioning system. So, I guess that answered that question.

        As for the CSS, in CS4 it is certainly not out of the cox ready to go, but it gives me a good starting point.

        Thanks again.

  88. 201

    Still no System (Quartz on Mac) anti-aliasing as it was before Fireworks CS 4. Adobe, this is really sucks!
    Bring back one of the most useful features for mocking up sites!

  89. 203

    Dennis McMahon

    July 28, 2010 7:26 am

    I am looking for the Mac user’s perspective on FW CS5. Little background. Until last year I used Fireworks 8 on my G5 Mac. Rock solid (it never had to be patched that I’m aware of). I bought CS4 because I wanted to take advantage of the new features added to FW. FW CS4 was a nightmare on my Mac even with all the patches applied. I removed it and went back to FW8. When I finally got a new Intel Mac, I figured I would give FW CS4 another go on this pristine machine. (it was the second app I installed). Before opening FW, I applied all the patches, restarted and came back to FW CS4 to get some work done. SELECTION and TEXT tools are horrible, the TEXT tool virtually worthless. There are memory/CPU hogging issues. And more. FW CW4 was still a POS.

    I’ve seen post on the Web that imply that FW CS5 is THE patch all of us have been waiting for. The consensus seems to be that Adobe is not even going to bother to make FW CS4 right now that CS5 is out.

    So, what do you recommend? In the meantime, it’s back to FW8 which continues to motor along just fine on my Snow Leopard box.

  90. 204

    Has anyone else noticed the issues with PNG transparency on PNG 8’s and PNG 32’s?

    CS4 on Windows always works fine, but CS5 on a mac sometimes has really annoying issues with saving PNG’s with the correct transparency settings.

    I still love Fireworks, but this png bug is really annoying

    • 205

      Michel Bozgounov

      August 10, 2010 1:24 am


      Please, file the issue here (select “Fireworks” in the products dropdown, give as much info as possible, attach Fw PNGs):

      I can assure you that all bug reports are carefully examined by the Fw team.

      Personally, I have never had any troubles with correct PNG settings on export, but perhaps that’s because I never tested Fireworks on a Mac.

  91. 206

    Rik Robinson

    August 2, 2010 1:52 pm

    Thanks so much for the article. I have been a FW fan back to version 2. I upgraded to CS4 last year and can’t believe how terrible it was. I constantly was getting errors “internal errors”, “could not save”, etc. These internal errors have been occurring in FW for as long as it has existed, but CS4 was WAY worse.

    I got so frustrated with CS4 today that I was thinking of upgrading when I found your article.

    I have now installed CS5 Trial and I opened a few large files that were giving me issues with CS4 this morning and unfortunately I get the exact errors in CS5 only now the image you are working on goes white while it saves (or tries to save rather). I’ve worked with much larger files over the years in earlier versions of FW without this many problems. (I’m on a brand new I9 Win7 64-bit box with 16GB RAM…so FW is not lacking for memory/power on my end).

    I am going to drop back a few versions and try that out. For now, Adobe won’t be getting my $$ for CS5 as they obviously haven’t fixed the issues.

    Really sad about that overall.

    • 207

      Michel Bozgounov

      August 10, 2010 1:33 am

      I am sorry to hear that you have troubles with latest versions of Fireworks… :(

      I guess, I often work with small-to-medium size PNG files in Fireworks, and because of that I very rarely have any problems. CS5 is working great for me — I’ve been using it for months now, and apart from a couple of minor issues, everything is OK!

      I would suggest to you the same thing that I just suggested to Nate: please, file a bug, add detailed info (how to reproduce the bug), and attach any large Fireworks PNG files that you experience issues with. Your help might be needed to address these issues, in a dot patch, and/or in a future version of Fireworks!

  92. 208

    HELP! Ok, there is so much here about how great Fireworks is and I’ll admit I’ve not used it but we just upgraded to CS5 Professional at my job and now suddenly I’ve noticed that every .png file on my computer by default is now a FW file. How do you just preview a .png file w/out having to download it and open it in FW. You used to be able to do that in IE or Image Ready on Windows. We use them a LOT in Word and PPT (I know, I know, but that is what the government and mid-corporate America like to use for presentations and documents.) Please advise.
    Suddenly Frustrated

    • 209

      Michel Bozgounov

      August 10, 2010 1:38 am

      How do you just preview a .png file w/out having to download it and open it in FW.

      If you are in any kind of Windows environment:

      Right-click on any .png file > select “Open with…” > from the list of programs, select any viewer that you would like to preview your PNG files with (IrfanView, Windows Picture/Fax Viewer, etc.), mark “Always use this program to open this kind of file”, click “Open” and you’re done. Hope this helps!

      PS From that moment on, you’ll be able to open and quickly preview all PNG files on the computer (and connected shared drives) with a picture viewer of your choice. To edit a PNG file with Fireworks, just select “Open with…” > then “Adobe Fireworks”.

  93. 210

    Wow, interesting comments about FW, PS. I am huge fan of both programs.
    And they are really different tools. PS is all about photos, and FW is all about web.
    Now I will only mention reasons why FW is for web design:
    1. Wireframing, Mock-ups, States, Behaviours, Rollover effects, linking pages,
    (export in PDF, HTML)
    2. Master pages and templates
    3. Pages – all sub pages are in one file.
    4. Symbols – graphic symbols, movie symbols and button symbols.
    5. Vectors, path panel, converting selection into vector paths.
    6. Property inspector, strokes, styles, filters.
    7. Slices and preview option.
    8. Measure tool.
    9. Gradient tool.
    10. Paste inside option.
    11. 9-slice scaling, cropping only selected object,
    12. Using common styles like in CSS.
    13. PNG is native format so work files can be preview in any PC.
    14. Batch process.
    15. Editing PSD and Ill files.
    16. Align objects with custom space

    All above mention reasons are so fast and easy to use commands.
    I will finish my comment with note for PS. PS is much more powerful software when comes working with photos. Here PS is king but when comes to web FW takes his place. This is something like comparing Illustrator and InDesign.

    ps. I you haven’t use FW you should try it is worth for the money and time.

  94. 211

    Great article! I’m currently waiting for my copy of CS5 to arrive – it’s on the company’s dollar luckily enough, but frankly the ‘reverse gradients’ button would make it worth the upgrade price alone!

  95. 212

    I love working with Fireworks CS5, except for one thing. When I open a very hi-res photo (e.g., 28MB), the colors are awful, almost neon. Can someone please tell me if there’s a way to adjust the color mode so hi-res photos don’t look like they’re on LSD?

    • 213

      Michel Bozgounov

      August 19, 2010 2:41 am

      Fireworks, being an RGB/RGBa app, should not change colors in digital photos; however, for photos that large (20 MB or more) I would recommend using Photoshop (resize/edit photos) then bring them into Fireworks — Fireworks is a vector/bitmap editing app, but for screen output, so it doesn’t handle very large files very well (unless they’re all vector).

      Hope this helps! :)

      (Of course, submitting a bug report about the problem with shifting colors is a good idea, too!)

      • 214

        Thanks, Michel. I’ll definitely submit a bug report. A coworker cropped and resized the photos for me in Photoshop CS5, but when I open them in Fireworks, the colors are still neon even though these files are only about 1MB each.

        I also opened one of the 1MB photos in Photoshop Elements. A dialog box displayed a message that the image had an unsupported color mode and did I want to convert it to RGB. I selected yes, and the photo looked fine. (Whatever the original color mode is, it’s used for all hi-res images in our company’s extensive library.)

        And why not use PS Essentials instead of the basic PS Elements? When I open a photo, any photo, in PS CS5, it has funky-looking pixilated layers over it. I’ve researched this issue online and consulted with two graphic gurus, but the mystery remains. I haven’t changed the default settings and can find no one else with this problem. So if you can solve this one, you’ll be my hero.

        Between Fireworks showing hi-res photos in neon colors and Photoshop Essentials refusing to show any photo without pixilated layers, my frustration level is going through the roof!

        Thanks again.

        • 215

          Michel Bozgounov

          August 21, 2010 1:05 am

          You should try to reach Adobe support/help, and ask them all those questions, I think! ;)

          But as far as I can guess: in Photoshop, you probably edit the photos in incorrect color mode — maybe CMYK? (anything different from RGB/RGBa is incorrect for digital photos! and mind that Fireworks supports only RGB/RGBa, because it is intended for screen output only!). Plus, in Photoshop you can also have color profiles enabled, which is a very bad idea — this can lead to serious shifts in color…

          My suggestion would be to open and edit photos in Photoshop in standard RGB color mode, and with any color profiling disabled. Search online for more info — there are a lot of resource that can help you! And once photos are in the correct RGB mode, opening them in Fireworks will be no longer a problem.

  96. 216

    Really don’t understand why people are asking whether this article is paid for by Adobe. The title is “Adobe Fireworks: Is It Worth Switching to CS5?” and Michel goes through in detail the reasons why a user would update their software. Software tends to get better when a new version is released, not worse, which is probably why it’s a list of good points. He has clearly done a lot of research and is extremely well informed on the topic.

    As for people complaining about the cost of these software packages, we need to remember that as designers, these tools are what we base our business and income on. Is it not understandable to pay a few hundred dollars for software that will allow us to earn back tens of thousands of dollars?

  97. 217

    Yaaaaaay. I’m not going to write anything relevant about this topic because there’s too many comments already.

  98. 218

    Yeh, I find there are still a fair few bugs in the new Fireworks.

    I can cope with it, but its still annoying getting text resize bugs –

    A lot of the comments on my site say its a workflow issue: anyone else use the Free Transform tool on text?

  99. 219

    What’s the point if you can’t install it….it downloaded FW CS5 and i try to install it…it shows application manger crashed….does anyone know a fix?

  100. 220

    I love Fireworks and use it more than 8 hours a day at work but I am really disappointed with all the bugs it has (specially CS5) and Adobe not doing anything about it but allocating their time to other crap.

    I love Fireworks and keep using it although it is full of bugs (just got the “Not enough memory” bug in my new 8GB RAM PC) because there is no decent alternative for Web Designers. Photoshop is not a web design tool at all. When some other company creates a Fireworks-like software I am jumping on their train!

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    Really smashing article. I was drawn to this review because I have two issues with FW CS4. the first is that when I select image editing>adjust colors, the adjustment box appears slap-bang right in the middle of my image. It annoys me no end. It is the sort of lack of thinking that leads me to think that the engineers don’t even use the software 1st hand. Has this been fixed?

    The other issue is this new Google open standard .webp format. You know the one…Its the one that no-one wants. Anyway, I need to ask you if this is supported in FW CS5?

    Great Blog

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    It’s worth noting that in CS5 on the Mac, the keyboard shortcut for kerning won’t work without some intervention. The MacOS appropriates CMD-[Arrow] to move between desktop spaces. If you want to be able to use CMD-ARROW in Fireworks to kern manually, you have to go to Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Mission Control and uncheck “Move left a space” and “Move right a space” (or make up other keyboard commands for them).

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