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Get the scoop on the next release
of Adobe Fireworks

by Aaron Beall

As someone who has long been hooked on Adobe Fireworks software for its amazing speed, ease of use, and flexible nature when creating web graphics, I'm glad to see that Fireworks CS4 beta (now on Adobe Labs) continues that legacy with brand new workspace tools and creative features. I have spent the last several months playing with the Fireworks CS4 beta, and I have watched it transform from what it already was in CS3 to a completely refreshed and powerful tool for cutting-edge web and interactive design.

Workspace

On the canvas, Fireworks has always provided various ways to align and position design elements, using guides, a grid, and the Align panel. But Fireworks CS4 beta brings precision and speed on the canvas to a whole new level with several new features:

Smart Guides
Smart guides: Easily align objects with one another, such as a row of buttons or several content boxes.

Guides measurements
Guide measurements: Measure the distance between guides — both vertical and horizontal.

New and improved interfaceFireworks CS4 beta is full of interface improvements, including revamped Layers and Pages panel.

Performance

Focusing on performance is always worthwhile in my book. The Fireworks engineers have done an amazing job improving the overall performance of Fireworks CS4 beta, especially when working with vectors, symbols, and multipage documents. Vector performance improvements are immediately noticeable, especially when selecting large clusters of vector shapes in complex illustrations — in my experience, Fireworks CS4 beta is sometimes as much as eight times faster than Fireworks CS3. You can save documents very quickly, and now you can even continue working in Fireworks while the save operation performs in the background, which means saving your file is completely pain-free for impatient users like me. Loading up those documents is also faster than in previous versions.

Enhanced workflows

Many of the workflows have been enhanced in ways that really deliver on what Fireworks users have been requesting.

PDF export
PDF export: Now for the first time, Fireworks can natively export to PDF.


PSD import/export and the Adobe Text Engine
Adobe Text Engine: Fireworks has a brand new text engine that works just like the Photoshop text engine.

Edit in Place for symbolsEdit in Place for symbols: now with Fireworks, you can edit a symbol in place, like in Flash.

 

New tools / more enhancements

In addition to all these workflow and usability enhancements in Fireworks CS4 beta, somehow the team also managed to add several new and enhanced tools. Fireworks CS4 beta is like a goldmine of little surprises to discover, but here are a few of my favorites:

New Align panel, Path panel, and commands

Conclusion

Fireworks CS4 beta implements new features and improvements that make this application even easier to use. It's fast and powerful, and it really paves the way for a bright future of designing for the web and other interactive projects. Check it out on Adobe Labs.


Aaron Beall is a freelance interactive designer with a passion for building things that look beautiful and function smoothly. In his free time, Aaron develops tools for Fireworks and can often be found in the Adobe community forums.