11 April 2010
It is my pleasure to take you on an in-depth tour of Adobe Fireworks CS5 and the many things that we have done to improve it. I can sum up the essence of this release in three words: stability, performance, and polish.
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. Fireworks CS5 installs faster, launches faster (see Figure 1), responds to input faster, saves and loads files faster, and uses less RAM.
Here are some statistics on this version:
Quality and compatibility were the highest priorities for Fireworks CS5. The engineers added support for modern operating systems and fixed all known incompatibilities and bugs with legacy files from older versions of Fireworks:
We fixed all of the known Fireworks CS4 text shifting problems. There is one exception: there is a slight shift when converting Point Text objects to Area Text objects and vice versa. This is a limitation of the Adobe Text Engine, which treats Area and Point Text objects differently. In each, there are different values for the gap between the glyphs and the bounding box.
Some of the improvements we made in Fireworks CS5 require a legacy file (a file created in older versions of Fireworks) to be saved once in Fireworks CS5 before you can see the improvements. The Preview feature in the Open and Import dialog boxes is one example, as are conversions of text from the old text engine to the Adobe Text Engine. There are others too. For example, once they are saved in Fireworks CS5, your legacy Fireworks PNG files will open and close faster, and performance will be improved while you work with them.
To provide even more safety and protect against data loss, we implemented a Recovered Files feature for Fireworks CS5 on Mac OS X. If Fireworks should crash, a recovered copy of your open files will be saved into a Recovered Files folder on your Mac's desktop.
Most of the new features in Fireworks CS5 are designed to provide greater integration with the Creative Suite products, improve workflow efficiencies, and improve on the major use cases for Fireworks.
Fireworks is well known for its precise drawing tools and ability to preview and see exactly what your design will look like on the screen. We improved the precision of Fireworks CS5 by adding a new Snap to Pixel feature (Modify > Snap to Pixel), which snaps the anchor points of vectors to the nearest pixel boundaries, resulting in cleaner lines. Other tools have been improved for a greater degree of precision, and useful features have been added to the Properties panel so they're easier to find and always available (see Figure 2).
Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5 is a new interaction design tool for the Adobe Flash Platform. In Fireworks CS5, we updated our support for the new FXG 2.0 graphics file format and added lots of improvements. Once you export an FXG file, you can take it into Flash Catalyst where you can then add structure and interaction (see Figure 3).
FXG and Images is now a first-class citizen in the Fireworks CS5 Export dialog box (see Figure 4), where you can choose to export the current selection on the current page, entire current page, or whole document (all pages). Very good fidelity is maintained, preserving vectors whenever possible, and rasterizing to preserve the visual fidelity when necessary. FXG files exported from Fireworks CS5 can be imported into Flash Catalyst CS5, Adobe Flash Professional CS5, Adobe Illustrator CS5, and Adobe Photoshop CS5, and can be used by Adobe Flash Builder 4. FXG is an open file format, which can be extended by the community. FXG graphics are written into an XML text file, which means that they can be searched, indexed, diff-ed, scripted, and checked into source code control repositories.
Designing for mobile is something that designers are increasingly being asked to do. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to get started but we have some very good news. Whether you're designing for a particular mobile platform such as Google Android, Palm webOS, Apple iPhone, or Flash, Fireworks has the design tools you need to create beautiful mockups and optimized, screen-ready graphics quickly and efficiently. The Fireworks skills you honed over the years are going to serve you well as you venture into mobile, and we're now including Adobe Device Central CS5 with Fireworks CS5 (see Figure 5):
Adobe Flash Player 10.1 will enable mobile devices to display the same rich content that desktops can display, and a steady flow of new mobile devices are coming to market with the full capabilities of Flash Player. Flash Professional is going to help deliver SWF-based content on a multitude of devices, and Device Central will be kept updated with new device profiles automatically as they become available.
While we've supplied a few basic design templates in Fireworks CS5, the real power of this feature is in creating and sharing your own templates. For example, let's say you work on a team at a small design firm and struggle to keep everyone producing consistent work that represents your company well, or maintains style guidelines. You can now create your own templates for your typical project types, pre-embedded with your symbols and assets to ensure that all designers will work from the same base and produce consistent work. Use this with the File > Send to Email > Fireworks PNG feature to easily distribute new templates. The designers that receive your template can simply select File > Save as Template to add it to their own templates. To start new work from a template, just click Create New From Template (PNG) on the Welcome Screen (see Figure 7).
Fireworks CS5 now exports and imports ASE files (.ase extension) using the Swatches options menu in the Swatches panel. ASE files can be shared among Fireworks, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Adobe Kuler.
Fireworks CS5 has new Compound Shape vector drawing tools in the Properties panel (see Figure 9). You can now edit compound shapes more easily and draw in compound shape "modes." Drawing complex vector shapes has never been faster and easier. Also, unlike Path operations like Punch, Add, etc., the Compound Shape tools preserve the vector objects so they can be easily re-edited later.
Fireworks is known for its rich extensibility for developers and scripters. In Fireworks CS5 we added many new APIs, allowing access to new features and creating new opportunities to extend Fireworks for proprietary and custom workflows. (See Extending Fireworks CS5 in the online help for more detailed information on how to extend Fireworks. The end of this article also lists the new APIs.)
In addition to the performance improvements and new features, we did a lot in Fireworks CS5 to improve your workflows.
Fireworks CS5 now supports the latest version of Adobe AIR 2 for creating AIR files. The AIR runtime and SDK are easily installed and the process is started by simply choosing Commands > Create AIR file.
In Fireworks CS4, pasting from Illustrator resulted in primarily preserving the vector shapes and not many attributes. Fireworks CS5 now uses an embedded "headless" Illustrator engine, which means better fidelity for gradients, attributes, and properties of objects that you copy from Illustrator and paste into Fireworks.
Fireworks contains the mighty Adobe Text Engine, which is shared with InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. For Fireworks CS5, we have added some terrific refinements to text handling:
We introduced the CSS Export feature in Fireworks CS4 for exporting standards-based CSS layouts for the purpose of prototyping websites. For Fireworks CS5, there's an impressive list of improvements, in no particular order:
display: inlineon all floated elements to prevent IE 6 double-margin float bug
<div>tags to clear floats so unstyled users don't have unnecessary line breaks
Some experienced Fireworks users may prefer to see their objects rendered the old way. Whichever method looks better often depends on the artist and the look they're going for. We added the ability to force the desired rendering style in Fireworks CS5:
As modern operating systems move forward to a mostly 64-bit world, it is only expected that all applications move along in that same direction. For Fireworks CS5, we made sure that it is fully compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Although Fireworks CS5 is a 32-bit application, you will see benefits from running it on 64-bit operating systems with extra RAM.
The following APIs and improvements have been added to Fireworks CS5:
fw.getDocumentDOM().VectorOperation = "intersect"// other supported parameters:
none(to set in the Properties panel)
fw.getDocumentDOM().combineCompoundShape();// to combine compound shapes
lockedproperty added (usage:
pathOperationproperty added (usage:
ditherproperty added (usage:
If you read all the way to this point, I'm sure you'll agree that Fireworks CS5 is a very strong release. It will be a reliable workhorse for you, day in and day out. We hope it serves you well as you take on new challenges and grow as a professional.
Besides the Fireworks Developer Center, there are many useful resources available on the web and within the vibrant and generous community of Fireworks users. Join them, and be sure to give a little something back to the community: