Fireworks and Symbols

Symbols are an important part in the way designer works with Fireworks. The application at the same time tries to reduce the burden or test his memory of updating all instances of the same object when any change is done.

To update all the instances in one go and provide further flexibility in the operations, Fireworks has symbols with multiple variations of it. Symbols are actually stored in the fireworks png file . Once a file is opened they can be accessed from "Document Library" panel in CS4 version. In the prior version it can be accessed from "Library" panel. The panels can be accessed from "Window" menu on a Mac or a Windows machine.

  1. Graphic
  2. This is the most generic form and has a parent child relationship. Whenever the master instance of the symbol is edited, the changes are broadcasted to all child instances of the symbol within the entire document. This serves as the edit once and update all mechanism. Any of the child instances can be updated so that the master knows of edits and transmits the update to all other instances.

  3. Button
  4. For creating effects like roll over, hover and similar behavior, the button symbol are used. They can be 2 state or 4 state buttons depending on the number of States/Frames which are present inside the symbol object. These symbols exhibit the behavior when previewed in browser or the preview button.

  5. Animation
  6. This is the traditional form of creating animated gif files. The transitions, delay settings and other file details are customized from the States panel.

  7. Component Symbols (aka Rich Symbols)
  8. Introduced in CS3 this is probably the most advance and least understood symbol type. This type of symbol also has a parent child relationship with an overriding facility. All the attributes of parent are inherited by all the child instances but if the child instance changes any of the available attribute from "Symbol Properties" panel, the parent attributes get over ridden only for that instance of the symbol. Any other instance of the symbol in the document does not get affected. Only the attributes changes through this panel are overridden, all other attributes are inherited from the parent.Each rich symbol is associated with a script from where the Symbol Properties panel is populated with the attributes which can be edited..

Symbols can be edited by double clicking on them. Once done so, the user enters the symbol edit mode where all the graphic tools are present for editing the objects.

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11 Responses to Fireworks and Symbols

  1. kosmar says:

    i explored the rich symbols fw offers in its generic library recently. it is a great idea. i remember to have encountered trouble working with styles inside the rich symbols inherited to my document lib. do styles and rich symbols work together?more important question: how can i create a rich symbol myself. can you point me to documentation, please? thx.

  2. kosmar says:

    another feature request concerning symbols, as i use them very often: it seems there is no menu command to get back from symbol editing mode to the main stage – thus i cannot assign a keyboard shortcut to it …as a bonus question: how can i switch documenttabs with keyboard only? why dont you the mac standard command-

  3. Lembit says:

    Kosmar:1) You could start exploring the Rich Symbols with this great tutorial on ADC: Use the standard Ctrl+W to close the symbol after editing.3) It’s standard Ctrl+Tab (forward) and Ctrl+Shift+Tab (backward) on Win.

  4. Sarthak says:

    @KosmarStyles with Symbols,Groups and Autoshapes have some limitations while working on the main canvas.If you are in the symbol edit mode, then there will be no problems working with the styles.Creating rich symbol needs a little bit of javascript knowledge. You can find more information at: can download the help pdf document also from the above location.The above link refers to Component Symbols which is the same as Rich Symbols.You can revert back to the main canvas from symbol edit mode by just a double click. A double click technique is used to enter and exit the symbol edit mode.I think it is a nice request. I suggest you to log such requests at Adobe wish form.

  5. kosmar says:

    thanks for the there are currently no key command to close symbol edit mode or to switch tabs on a mac, if i understand correctly.where do i find the adobe wish form?tia

  6. Sarthak says:

    @KosmarThe symbol edit mode does not have a keyboard shortcut attached to this operation.For toggling between the different tabs on mac, use Cmd+~Wish form URL

  7. kosmar says:

    ah, thanks.too bad, the ~ isnt accessible without a modifier key in a german layout, thus not executable (and not changeble, as i dont find a menu command). the mac standard would be cmd – < …ill check the wish form.

  8. Matt Mitchell says:

    this would be a fantastic feature if it wasn’t for the constant crashing when ever I use component symbols. It’s horrendous, truly horrible.

  9. Sarthak says:

    @Matt MitchellCan you spare some time in letting me know the crash you are facing while working with Component Symbols?Any crash is any kind of application is a disaster.You could give some insights like the platform you re working on. Some crash sequences.

  10. Matt Mitchell says:

    I’d be happy to let you know. I’m on a Mac Pro (2 x 2.8 quad) using 10.5.6. CS4 fireworks.The main file is 754k contains 6 pages and no more than 100 layers.I create a simple symbol which contains two text fields (which I label) and a shape. I save it to the common library and use the commands menu to create a symbol script. I can usually although not always without crashing get to this point. I use textChars attributes to be able to change the text in the symbol. It’s after dragging these symbols into the document do I have the real problems when trying to edit the values. I’d say half the time entering a value it enters it for both fields and I’d say one in 4 times the program will completely crash losing everything not saved. It feels like it’s help together with sticky tape.Will there be an update to this program? I was wondering whether to press on with Fw or go back to photoshop.I could also list a lot of other crash sequences ( unrelated to symbols) if you like.

  11. Tyler Bingham says:

    I have the same issue. I try to edit a symbol and Fireworks tells me that an error has occurred. Sometimes it crashes right away, other times when I’m saving, or it just gives me the same error when I try to save. So far today it has crashed 5 times. Makes it a little hard to get work done.