FOTD 13: Fireworks 8 – Image Editing Panel

Fireworks 8 got some very nice updates this release, and several of them are in the form of new SWF-based panels that either extend, or consolidate groups of functionality in Fireworks around key tasks. Today I’m going to shine a flashlight on the new Image Editing Panel in Fireworks 8- which is basically a handy centralized location for all the functions you’ll need the most when editing digital photos, design comps and other bitmap images. Let’s take a look.

image_editing_panel.jpg
The new Image Editing Panel

You can bring up the Image Editing Panel (if it’s not already displayed in your ‘panel stack’) by choosing “Window > Image Editing”. Across the top you’ll find 7 icons, from left to right they are:

  • Red Eye Removal Tool
  • Crop Tool
  • Rotate
    (functionally the same as the crop tool, which serves both purposes)
  • Blur Tool
  • Sharpen Tool
  • Dodge Tool
  • Burn Tool

As you’d expect, these icons simply allow you quick access to the most common tools used during image editing. But there’s a lot more hidden in the ‘subsection menus’ beneath the icons. Let’s step through these next.Transform ToolsThese tools apply the following commands to a selected object:

  • Free Transform
  • Scale
  • Skew
  • Distort
  • Free Rotate

Transform CommandsThe Transform Commands menu lets you apply the following commands to selected objects:

  • Numeric Transform
  • Rotate 180 Degrees
  • Rotate 90 Degrees CW (Clockwise)
  • Rotate 90 Degrees CCW (Counter-Clockwise)
  • Flip Horizontal
  • Flip Vertical
  • Remove Transformations

Adjust ColorYou can apply the following filters to a selected object from within the Adjust Color menu:

  • Auto Levels
  • Brightness/Contrast
  • Curves…
  • Hue/Saturation…
  • Invert
  • Levels…
  • Convert to Grayscale
  • Convert to Sepia Tone

FiltersSome of the most common filters used in Fireworks can be quickly accessed via the Filters menu:

  • Blur
  • Blur More…
  • Sharpen
  • Sharpen More…
  • Unsharp Mask
  • Add Noise
  • Convert to Alpha
  • Find Edges

View OptionsAnd finally, the View Options menu gives you quick access to some of the more common view options you may want to toggle on/off while editing images:

  • Show/Hide Rulers
  • Show/Hide Grid
  • Snap/Don’t Snap to Grid
  • Edit Grid…

Now of course this panel doesn’t add new functionality in Fireworks, it helps consolidate your options and streamline your workflow- which you’ll find a common theme throughout the new Studio 8 products. Personally speaking, I find the Image Editing panel a great time-saver to have out and floating next to my image – especially when I’m working with a Wacom tablet and stylus – so I have virtually all the options I’ll need close at hand without needing to wander the menus. If you find this type of feature interesting, then by all means leave a comment and let me know- there’s more ‘workflow-centered’ panels like this added to Fireworks 8 that I could talk more about, if you’re interested. See you tomorrow for FOTD #14!

13 Responses to FOTD 13: Fireworks 8 – Image Editing Panel

  1. More, please! :)Image Editing panel comment: I’m glad to hear what’s listed, I do see the benifit of a panel for these shortcuts, especially in your Wacom workflow. But, why finally a panel now – why not remind everyone those features are available in right-click (contextual menu) in pratically every version of FW? I will end up loving that panel I’m sure, just wondering what happened to right-click love?:)

  2. Aw, there’s no lack of right-click love over here (most definitely!)- this panel just affords you a few more options and makes the app more ‘approachable’ to folks not specifically using FW for asset generation. ;)More it shall be then- next week’s Fireworks FOTD will likely be a ‘grab bag’ of items like this that just make your workflow smoother, I may actually post a ‘bonus’ FOTD before then, too. There’s a TON of little enhancements in FW8 that collectively make a huge difference.

  3. Jack says:

    Nice panel ;)The thing I love of Fireworks MX 2004 is that it startup a lot of more faster them photoshop and I can just press edit image in dreamweaver and its open fireworks…. But now I see that the ram use of Fireworks 8 go up!! And you need now 1 GB of ram to run fireworks 8 and dreamweaver 8 at the same time?!!Wow what happend adobe take over and fireworks ask the almost the same ram like photoshop CS2? Is it still the fast program I love so much or did Fireworks become so a ram/cpu sucking program like photoshop??!!

  4. Jack- from version to version, system requirements always increase- this is nothing new! As hardware gets faster year-to-year, software usually grows to take advantage of the added horsepower. Fireworks 8 still opens quite quickly, and in fact I find it well speedier than Fireworks MX 2004.

  5. Jack says:

    True and had to upgrade my ram any way :)

  6. I’m sorry if I sound overly negative but, to me, the Image Editing Panel is such a non-feature… It merely replicates functionality found elswqhere in the interface (including right-click) and is really not worthy of being mentionned as one of the most important new feature in the new release. Marketing has to be desperate to fill out the new features list to use that one…But don’t get me wrong, I find Fireworks 8 to be a fantastic upgrade anyway, just not the kind of innovative upgrade I would have wanted (the vector toolset has been neglected for far too long) but, if you want to mention a worthy new feature/panel then the new AutoShape Properties Panel is a much more useful addition to the app than the useless Image Editing Panel. I hate to think what other useful feature(s) might have been left out while development resources were used to implement the Image Editing Panel…

  7. Well… I certainly appreciate your comments, Stephane, but would like to clarify a few points so we’re on the same page:- These posts aren’t marketing-speak or driven by marketing- this is simply me writing on my ‘blog about features I’ve gotten direct feedback on or questions about (this feature being one), or I find personally interesting. You can go to the product pages to see what the ‘official information’ highlights. The point of my posts is to show what you WON’T see on the ‘key features’ or ‘reasons to upgrade’ list, no more, no less.- I cannot tell you how many people *using other image editing applications* have expressed concern to me over the last years that Fireworks simply is not approachable for tasks outside of creating web graphics, and much of it’s bitmap editing features have been spread out across the respective interface elements. A common complaint was that if Fireworks were ever to become useful to a wider audience, it needed to address core *tasks* and *workflows* potential users wished to perform (image editing being, as you’d guess, probably the most popular of these), and help expose the various bits of functionality around these task-based workflows. Hence- I do consider this a pretty big workflow improvement- but can understand if your opinion differs or you feel it’s a ‘non-feature’ (you’ll note that the first sentence of this post directly addresses that this is one of many new ‘features’ of Fireworks that simply consolidate or extend existing functionality, I never suggested otherwise!).- Autoshape properties is interesting, sure- and I may feature it shortly. However, numeric entry of autoshape properties is, honestly, just another workflow improvement of an EXISTING FEATURE geared towards power users as opposed to hobbyists/image editors/etc who’ll still undoubtedly use the onscreen UI to manipulate autoshapes most of the time. Different workflows for different needs.- For every release, there’s always a huge laundry list of features that ‘could have’ made it in. Personally speaking, I’d rather not speculate on what could or should have been implemented for a particular group of users if “feature X” had been left off the list. Each release signifies a tradeoff and compromise between available resources, feature requests and target users (with their specific and differeing workflow needs), but all things considered, we do seem to agree on the big point- I also find Fireworks 8 to be a fantastic upgrade. FW8 may not be everything to everyone, but that’s a rather unattainable goal- I feel it does a far better job of reaching a wider group of potential users with v8 than it has in any previous release.(But that’s just MY opinion… :)

  8. Thanks for replying Scott… and what I wrote was indeed just my opinion as well. As a long time Fireworks user I sometimes feel that the development direction of the product is far to weighted towards new users or what I call the “Photoshop crowd”. If I wanted to use a more Photoshop-like application I’d use Photoshop… not Fireworks. But I digress. Here’s further comments on some of your points:

    These posts aren’t marketing-speak or driven by marketing- this is simply me writing on my ‘blog about features…

    Yes, I realize that. My comment was indeed directed at the marketing speak on MM’s site, namely at the fact that the Image Editing Panel is the very first feature listed on the features page: http://www.macromedia.com/software/fireworks/productinfo/features/

    I cannot tell you how many people *using other image editing applications* have expressed concern to me over the last years that Fireworks simply is not approachable for tasks outside of creating web graphics

    I thought that creating Web graphics was exactly the central purpose behind the creation of Fireworks. Again, if I wanted to use PS I’d use it. I abandonned it years ago because the raster-only workflow was awkward, imprecise and difficult.I just do not get that type of attitude from people. When I use a new app I try to embrace its “vibe” and how it works. I don’t try to apply workflow habits gained while using other applications to a new one, that’s ridiculous to me. Yes, better bitmap editing tools in Fireworks is a good thing but for 3 releases now there was heavy focus on improving them at the expense of better vector tools.As for the bitmap tools, again, I’m sorry but I still don’t think that centralizing them inside a single panel is a very worthwhile new feature. The main toolbox is still the principal means to access most tools in Fireworks (and most graphic apps) and most of the tools that are now duplicated on the new panel are quite easy to find in the main toolbar.Worse, I think that promoting the “destructive” filters to such a prominent place as the Image Editing Panel instead of encouraging the use of the non-destructive live filters found in the (just as easily accesible and discoverable) Property Inspector was a very bad idea. It goes against the historical Fireworks tradition of “everything is editable all the time”. If the Filters menu on the Image Editing Toolbar at least used the Live Effects it would be far more useful.

    However, numeric entry of autoshape properties is, honestly, just another workflow improvement of an EXISTING FEATURE geared towards power users as opposed to hobbyists/image editors/etc

    So you’re telling me that the needs of hobbyists and new users are more important to MM than those of long time users who already invested a lot of money and time into the app? I know that’s probably not what you mean but, you will not get much new users by trying to make Fireworks more like Photoshop because existing PS users will probably stick to it. It may really start to irritate long time users who have been appreciating and evangelizing Fireworks’ difference for years though. What good is gainning new users if you allienate the existing user base?More specifically to the point, I really think that a feature like the AutoShape Inspector panel is much more than a poweruser kind of feature. It’s the kind of professional, precision feature that’s useful to any Web designer that cares about flexibility and getting consistent results.I realize that you have to balance the needs of hobbyists and new users vs pros and powerusers but, IMO, the direction of the product has been much too biased towards the needs of casual users in the last few years.The kind of workflow improvements I’d really have liked to see in FW 8 are ones like, better color management tools (that let us name, modify and generally manipulate individual color swatches (just like other graphics apps like PS, FreeHand or Illustrator do). Another would have been the ability to link to imported images so that that they can be edited outside FW and the changes be reflected inside Fireworks (again just like Illustrator or FreeHand). Others include object snapping (Flash, FreeHand, Illustrator), alignment to an “anchor object that doesn’t move, live vector effects (Flash, FreeHand, Illustrator), a file browser (like Photoshop… yes it has “some” features I’d like to see in FW ;-), interactive blend tool (FreeHand, Illustrator), reference point locator (Illustrator, CorelDraw, Canvas), increased decimal precision for reading and setting object and anchor placement and objects size in the PI (like Flash has had for years), etc, etc. Those are the kinds of feature that would really help workflow for all IMO.

    I feel it does a far better job of reaching a wider group of potential users with v8 than it has in any previous release.

    Well, that remains to be seen… but to achieve this MM needs to put some decent marketing efforts behind Fireworks for once… but that’s a whole other debate… ;-) All I wish is for Fireworks to realize its full potential because I really do care about it but I unfortunately feel that the last two releases have been especially lackluster in terms of new features and improvements that would really help my workflow. Just my opinion of course… ;-)

  9. Egads, Stephane! That’s a lot of typing for a guy like me to respond to, but I do want to quickly address a few points you’ve made (and note that I do NOT work for any specific product team, my opinions are my opinions alone).First- I feel a relative balance absolutely needs to be struck between making Fireworks a more approachable and accessible image editor for potential new users and markets, as well as adding key new features for the current users. We may disagree on where that balance point is actually set (and I feel that we actually agree on most points), but in order for a product to grow, you simply have to spend significant focus on bringing in new users and/or converting those using similar applications through approachability and flexibility. Otherwise you end up with a very niche product (and having worked at the former graphics company HSC/MetaCreations for most of it’s run in the industry as a Photoshop plug-in vendor/niche app vendor, I can say with utter certainty that niche products have a very hard time justifying themselves long-term if they don’t expand to meet new markets and challenges… lol).So no, I don’t feel that a software vendor can ignore their core user base. Nor do I feel the Fireworks team has. As I mentioned in my former response, I’ve talked with tons of Fireworks users since coming to Macromedia in 2000, and the one common thread I’ve heard throughout is that it simply hasn’t been approachable outside it’s create/slice/export core workflow. So I pose this question- do any of these new v8 changes really alter YOUR workflow, as a long-time Fireworks advocate? Probably not, as they haven’t really changed mine- only opened up new options and possibilities. Attracting new sets/classes of potential users can only benefit the product long-term – which is good for new users and old hands alike. That’s what I’d love to see for Fireworks, personally speaking.And that’s just the way I see it, I suppose- and I’d feel the same if I wasn’t working here, as well- I was a Fireworks user well before I became a Macromedia employee.Thanks for the all the great thoughts and comments!

  10. Egads, Stephane! That’s a lot of typing for a guy like me to respond to

    Hehe… I know, sorry ;-) I can get a little over enthusiastic and long winded sometimes. I’d just like to address a couple of the points in your reply. After that I may leave you alone ;-) I know that you don’t work for any particular team but I think it’s good that people at MM hear from long time users from time to time.

    We may disagree on where that balance point is actually set (and I feel that we actually agree on most points), but in order for a product to grow, you simply have to spend significant focus on bringing in new users and/or converting those using similar applications through approachability and flexibility.

    Yes, I completely agree with you on the principle but, in Fireworks’ specific case we’ll have to agree to disagree. I think that Dreamweaver 8 has achieved that perfect balance but I maintain that, IMO, Fireworks has not. I really do believe that its development has been far too biased towards new and casual users in the last 2 or even 3 releases at the expense of the requests and needs of professional and long time users. But it’s no use to rehash the past, and discussing this here is a bit pointless. I still feel that MM needs to hear this feedback though because I’m far from the only one feeling that way.

    Otherwise you end up with a very niche product (and having worked at the former graphics company HSC/MetaCreations for most of it’s run in the industry as a Photoshop plug-in vendor/niche app vendor, I can say with utter certainty that niche products have a very hard time justifying themselves long-term if they don’t expand to meet new markets and challenges… lol).

    Yes, I agree that products that are too “niched” are doomed but, on the other hand, I much prefer a highly focused and efficient app to a jack of all trade app that does a million things but does nothing really well or efficiently.

    As I mentioned in my former response, I’ve talked with tons of Fireworks users since coming to Macromedia in 2000, and the one common thread I’ve heard throughout is that it simply hasn’t been approachable outside it’s create/slice/export core workflow.

    What exactly does it mean to be approachable outside its create/slice/export core workflow? What other tasks do these users expect to be doing in Fireworks? Print? Fireworks is the wrong tool for that job and FreeHand is the one they should use. I don’t want the FW dev team to start adding true CMYK support and other print features because that will be resources that won’t be put towards really improving its creative toolset and more specifically its vector toolset. What else would they want to do with it? I’d really like to know.But, here’s how Maureen Keating’s new article on Devnet starts (I’m sure you know but for the benefit of your readers who might not, Maureen is the current Fireworks Product Manager):”Fireworks 8 is the comprehensive solution for creating and optimizing high-quality, lightweight images for the web.”That’s what I bought into when I first tried Fireworks 2.0 when it came out and that’s what I still expect the pruduct’s focus to be today. So I’m still very curious as to what tasks do those users you talked to expect Fireworks to be more approachable for?

    So I pose this question- do any of these new v8 changes really alter YOUR workflow, as a long-time Fireworks advocate? Probably not, as they haven’t really changed mine

    Actually, some of them have, including the AutoShapes Inspector Panel. I rarely used AutoShapes before but with this panel i’m already using them a lot more. I like precision work. I hated the “toy-like” feel of the mouse only controls on AutoShapes. That kind of thing may be fine in office applications but not in a professional Web graphics creative application like Fireworks IMO. That one was a very welcome addition for me.Another is the Save and Export locations improvements. Before, it was a crap shoot as to what folder would open when saving and exporting. FW8 is smarter about that now and this directly improves my workflow.Other things I like are the new perspective shadows and the Special Characters Panel but especially the new Marquee to Path and Path to Marquee features which are great additions that also directly affect my workflow. Eventhough I probably still won’t use them, the new CSS menus are very welcome if long overdue replacements to the ill conceived and dreadful old JavaScript driven menus. Individual object locking also helps me as well as the ability to edit paths with attached text. This is all good but, to me, it is simply not enough especially when we have been waiting years for new features like those I mentionned in my previous comment.Finally, I also completely agree with you that attracting new users is good for the future of the product but, as I stated above, I really think that professionals and existing users’ needs have not been given enough weight in the last couple of releases. Hopefully next time will be different :-)

  11. Hi, Stephane-Interesting points, thanks for sharing. In regards to your comment on what it would mean to be approachable outside the create/slice/export workflow, quite simply there are a few small updates to Fireworks that I personally (as a long-time user) very much welcome and will definitely make the app more comfortable to new or even occasional users (who could be experienced web pros, but only use Fireworks for asset generation). Examples: the way that “Save As” has changed (wrote a more involved post on that a week or so ago, in fact- a sorely-needed change if you ask me), the new perspective tools, the new blend modes, better handling of default folders when saving files, the new grid lines (easier on the eyes and sanity), recent fonts being displayed at the top of the font menu (a godsend)- I find this multitude of ‘small improvements’ collectively make Fireworks 8 far more approachable and usable for not just new users, but old users (like myself) as well. I know lots of web professionals who use Fireworks for compression, and Photoshop for ‘everything else’. Just because Fireworks has done things slightly differently before version 8 doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be adaptable to other (and in many cases, more common) workflows. Plain and simple.Now sure, we could argue that the consolidation of bitmap-editing features in a floating panel isn’t as relatively important to you as improved color management, file browsers, et al- but I personally love this feature when I’ve got a stylus and tablet attached – I hate wandering menus with a Wacom more than I can convey in text. For me, it was a great addition.Now absolutely- Fireworks has always been (and continues to be) centered around creating web graphics. I don’t think it should be a Swiss Army knife ‘one-size-fits-all’ tool for every situation like Photoshop, but I absolutely think it has needed – for quite some time in fact – to at least adapt a bit more to alternate workflows and behaviors so that it’s not just a niche application people would only use when they want to specifically create website assets.Now the comment as to whether I expect people would be using Fireworks for print media? Heck, I wouldn’t even suggest that on a good day… ;)

  12. Myriam Koepcke says:

    Hi. I am trying Fireworks for the first time, in the form of Fireworks 8. Fireworks cannot, will not, absolutely refuses to allow me to crop. It is so frustrating I want to throw the $%^&* thing out the window and revert immediately back to Photoshop which is sane, as opposed to Fireworks, which is apparently insane. However, I am taking a course that requires Fireworks use. Can you enlighten me on why my crop tool refuses to function? In Photoshop (and every other photoediting tool I have ever used) the crop tool is quite easy to use, all you do is select it, drag it, tell it to crop and it’s cropped. Not so in Fireworks, apparently. I select it, drag it, and it goes back to the exact configuration it was in before. Can you tell me, is there some secret function that nobody has written into any instruction manual that activates crop that only people who go through some secret initiation ceremony are privvy to? I would like to be let in on this secret. As far as I can tell, so far, Fireworks is a useless tool. If it’s impossible to crop, then not much of anything I want to do is doable.Thank you for your help.Sincerly,Myriam Koepcker0se33@sbcglobal.net

  13. No idea, Myriam- just select the crop tool, drag a region, hit ‘enter’ (or double-click INSIDE the region) to crop the image. Works every time for me, Mac and Windows.If you keep running into problems after following those exact steps, I’d log a support ticket as there may be something specifically messed up with your machine/configuration?