Goodbye Fireworks, Hello Photoshop CC!
On May 7 Adobe announced their latest generation of creative tools now known as CC, and this week designers finally got their hands on the new and updated suite, including Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC. But as was also announced in May, Fireworks has not been included in these updates, and indeed won’t be seeing any further development. This spells the end of a long serving and much loved tool for some professional web and interface designers. So do we finally have a winner in the great Fireworks vs Photoshop debate?
Should designers switch to Photoshop and/or Illustrator?
It should be noted that Adobe has discontinued development of Fireworks but has not discontinued the software entirely and will still provide support for existing customers of the software, so the decision to switch at all is really in the ballpark of each individual customer.
But for those that have decided to switch, there are two notable alternative products that Adobe offer, Photoshop and Illustrator. Again, this decision will ultimately come down to personal preference and workflow.
Photoshop is most comparable to Fireworks, it is the industry standard for interface design and does produce beautiful graphics. It also handles vectors fairly well, and features like editable radiuses on rounded rectangles are welcome features in Photoshop CC.
Illustrator is a graphic design software package, for graphic designers. It can absolutely be used for web design and even includes automatically generated CSS code in Illustrator CC. But unless you personally feel very at home in Illustrator’s environment, then it is a weaker contender than Photoshop for the job of Fireworks replacement.
Features we will miss from Fireworks
Click to Select
Selecting objects feels natural in Fireworks, just like in Illustrator, to select an object on your canvas all you have to do is click it with the default Pointer tool (the black one), or if you want to select a specific point on a vector path or an object within a group, use the Subselection tool (the white one).
Photoshop CC has made some progress in this area but even the new ‘Selected’ layer filter feels fiddly and unintuitive.
Pages and Master Pages
One of my favorite features in Fireworks is it’s ability to work with multiple Pages and States. Master Pages can be used to contain permanent elements across multiple pages, in particular things like background patterns or images can be kept in Master Pages.
Photoshop has layer comps, and these are great for variations of the same page, but lack the functionality to create a multi-page website or app mock-up.
Live Filters and Non-Destructive Adjustments
All effects are applied to objects rather than layers in Fireworks, so “Layer Styles” from Photoshop (ie. Drop Shadow, Bevel and Emboss etc.) are called “Live Filters” and can be found in the Properties window when an object is selected. Some of the benefits of Live Filters are the ability to arrange the order in which filters are applied to objects by dragging them, and stacking multiple instances of the same effect, for example you can have two Drop Shadows on the same object, something not possible without workarounds in Photoshop.
Styles in Fireworks are similar to CSS rules on the web, you can define a library of “Styles” that store appearance information, such as fill and stroke styles, effects, and fonts.
If you are creating a website layout, you can define a Style for all primary buttons and another Style for secondary buttons, then if you decide to alter the Style of either, you only have to do it once and it will reflect on all elements with the same Style applied.
New features we like in Photoshop CC
Better Handling of Vectors
Okay, it’s still not as intuitive as Fireworks, but at least Adobe are paying attention to how designers work with vectors, being able to select anchor points from separate shapes simultaneously is very handy.
Editing and adjusting the corner radius of shape on the canvas is simply a god send for designers! No more needlessly redrawing rectangles for making small changes!
Much like in Illustrator, you can now use the layers panel or double click a vector shape with the Path Selection tool to isolate the shape. This feature allows the user to focus on a specific layer or set of layers without getting confused or accidentally editing all the other layers.
Quick tip: in Photoshop CS6 and lower, you can press Q to enter quick mask mode when editing a vector shape which works a lot like the isolate layers feature.
New Text Antialiasing
One of the trickiest things about working with text in graphics software is getting it to look like it does in a browser or native app. Photoshop CC has introduced new anti-aliasing options which help address this issue.
What about Fireworks resources on Medialoot?
Although most of our resources are supplied as .psd or Illustrator compatible formats, we do have a handful of Fireworks resources available too. We are in the process of updating these sets and in some cases recreating them in Photoshop. We want to make sure our resources are useable for the largest number of designers, and have the longest possible foreseeable lifespan. So this a great opportunity for us to unify our efforts and focus on providing Photoshop and Illustrator compatible resources from now on.
The discontinuation of Fireworks development shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, Adobe are focusing on rolling with times, and sometimes that means leaving an old friend behind. Hopefully though we will see new tools and more improvements to Photoshop CC and Edge tools over time to fill the void.
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, whether you’re a Fireworks veteran, are happy to see more focus on Photoshop for designers, or if you don’t use Adobe products in your workflow at all!