June 02, 2010

A note to Fireworks users

Thanks for all the feedback about my HTML layers idea. In the comments I think I can see the exact moment when someone on a Fireworks forum/list linked to the post and suggested that everyone pile on in hopes of getting the feature into FW instead of PS. For what it’s worth, I’ve been asking the FW team for four years to implement some version of this idea. They’ve liked the concept, but for whatever reason the work hasn’t happened.
A request: If you voted in the survey & rated the idea lower in hopes of getting the feature into Fireworks, please revise your vote and assess just the merits of the idea in general. Thanks.

Posted by John Nack at 7:36 AM on June 02, 2010


  • Gaspy — 8:38 AM on June 02, 2010

    Well, I brought up Fireworks first in the comments, but it wasn’t because of some forum.
    It’s just that I’m a bit frustrated with many Adobe tools – sometimes features overlap, otherwise you can do 95% of work in one program but you need another program for the other 5%… frustrating.
    I see this in Illustrator + InDesign, AfterEffects + Premiere, Photoshop + Fireworks.
    Ideally, as a web developer, I should only need two programs: Dreamweaver and Fireworks.

  • Shawn — 8:59 AM on June 02, 2010

    I wish I could say I want it in Fireworks ( I do ) but I have all but given up on the idea of getting veteran photoshop users to migrate to Fireworks for web design. All I can hope for now, I think, is that Photoshop and Fireworks will eventually both read the same files 100% accurately… or that Photoshop will pick up Fireworks slicing features and allow stacking and then some ( image sprite creation )

  • J. Jeffryes — 9:18 AM on June 02, 2010

    I didn’t comment due to any forum, a friend shared the link on Twitter with no mention of Fireworks.
    It’s simple logic. Fireworks is Adobe’s web tool, Photoshop is Adobe’s photo and image tool.
    [Not to the very large number of people who use PS for Web work (a number that greatly exceeds the FW user base). –J.]
    The two tasks have different requirements, having one tool for both just results in a tool that does both poorly.
    Or a tool that’s bloated and full of bugs.
    I’d much rather have a focused tool that see Photoshop get another 5 pounds shoved into its 10 pound bag. The 30 pounds already in there are enough.

  • Alexei — 9:25 AM on June 02, 2010

    I think, I understand why Fireworks team has not implemented it yet: in the past couple of weeks I submitted 3 bug reports for Fireworks CS5. Fireworks team has their hands full with bug fixing.

  • Andrew Ingram — 9:49 AM on June 02, 2010

    I have to make the ‘great minds’ comment because this idea is nearly identical to one I was thinking through, except my idea was to have it done as a dedicated app as a much-needed competitor to Fireworks rather than suggest it to you guys (no offense :)).
    It is slightly baffling that the leading tool for rapidly designing websites (Fireworks, in my opinion) isn’t already built on a world-class rendering engine. The idea seems so obvious, yet as far as I’m aware nobody has taken up the challenge.

  • J. Jeffryes — 11:10 AM on June 02, 2010

    [Not to the very large number of people who use PS for Web work (a number that greatly exceeds the FW user base). –J.]
    I’m aware many people use Photoshop, it’s what they’re familiar with.
    Adobe itself is the one positioning Fireworks as their web tool. Either it’s their web tool, and they need to do more to push people to use it that way, or they need to kill it and make Photoshop better for building websites.
    [Agreed. –J.]

  • thinsoldier — 11:31 AM on June 02, 2010

    Even though I can’t bare to use fireworks for more than a few minutes at a time I don’t see the need to kill it.
    It shouldn’t be killed until photoshop has copied every aspect of it that’s worth copying.
    Same goes for freehand and illustrator.
    What I don’t understand is how a company like Auto***k can purchase a half dozen 3d content creation packages with vast areas of overlap and still give all those packages a pretty decent amount of resources (even Maya got a little love recently).
    But, Adobe hasn’t been nearly as good at this when it comes to fireworks and obviously Freehand.
    [Both FW and FH were effectively dead when Adobe purchased Macromedia. Adobe revived FW but not FH. –J.]
    As for the HTML Layers in Fireworks VS Photoshop, the smart thing for Adobe to do is to make some core html5 components that can then be accessed in a consistent manner by ALL creative suite programs.
    [I’ve made that pitch. –J.]
    (A similar approach should have been taken with all pathfinders, pen tools, type tools and layer/object styles)
    Back to the general idea of programmable layers.
    I hope the near future wish list includes Vanishing Point layers instead of that plugin window (like the on-canvas perspective grids in Illustrator)
    [The idea has certainly come up. –J.]
    Finally, I’d like to request:
    -menus that can be torn off like in Maya & Cinema4d
    -tool groups that can be torn off like in Illustrator
    [Don’t hold your breath; use Configurator instead! –J.]
    -a modules/plugins manager that can be used to disable large areas of functionality. For instance, disabling all filters and all 3d functionality by un-checking a few boxes. The would not only hide the functionality but prevent it from being loaded into memory inf the first place.
    [It isn’t being loaded unless you use it. But people will apparently never believe me. –J.]

  • Richard — 11:56 AM on June 02, 2010

    This is logical thinking! Fireworks for html layers. NO need at all for extra crap in photoshop.
    Of course there are people using photoshop for webdesign, but I seem to remember adobe actually pulled Imageready from photoshop. Use the correct tools, people! You can bang a nail in the wall with a screwdriver, but that’s not what it’s for.
    Photoshop is getting too “wannabe all” Jack of all trades, good for many things, great at nothing.

  • Alexei — 12:12 PM on June 02, 2010

    Even though Photoshop and Illustrator are getting better at dealing with Web, neither can do multi-page interactive prototypes that Fireworks can.
    Yes, a lot of people are using Photoshop for Web design. Because that’s all that they’ve learned. Turning such designs into working site is often like swimming against the tide. For instance, separating backgrounds involves a lot of work on hiding upper layers and making selections, etc. In fireworks you just export layers (with objects) to images. Done.
    I am still fighting Photoshop designers who don’t know that round corners, gradients, anti-aliased fonts, shadows generally do not translate into proper cross-browser design. It’s not specific to Photoshop but the application just invites to use all these features to make “design” look better. It’s OK if it’s going to turn into static, image- or Flash-based site but that’s getting rare these days.

  • mga — 2:01 PM on June 02, 2010

    we need a “John Nack” in Fireworks… poor old FW being forgotten :(

  • Luke Kilpatrick — 4:28 PM on June 02, 2010

    This past version (CS5) was headed by an amazing PM that took the great risk of fixing as much as possible without adding a ton of new features. It would not surprise me if CS what ever is next would have a feature like this but the thought study of how to implement it in either program will be great feedback for both teams.

  • AG — 8:20 PM on June 02, 2010

    “Not to the very large number of people who use PS for Web work (a number that greatly exceeds the FW user base). –J.”
    Although this is true it doesn’t mean they are right, lots of web designers have developed a Stockholm syndrome to Photoshop. I mean I have sat with designers and watched them have to resize buttons by marquee selecting the edge of them and manually deleting the pixels that are used as a base for layer effects, or having to manually select next to them and fill in more pixels. Yeah you can use vectors instead but those are also way too fiddly in Photoshop.
    In Fireworks I just click on my button and then use this http://johndunning.com/fireworks/about/KeyboardResize
    Same goes for layer styles, Photoshop you make a new button then dig round in the layer palette, right click and copy styles then find your new layer again and paste them. Fireworks you click the styled button on the canvas cmd+opt+shift C, click the new unstyled button then cmd+opt+shift+P BAM!
    Web designing in Photoshop to me is a bit of a joke and an exercise in utter tedium. And this is coming from someone who has used Photoshop for web design for around 10 years and only started using Fireworks 2 years ago.
    Adobe really needs to either invest some money in Fireworks, modernise it then get them a passionate and vocal spokesperson like John Nack. Or they need to get a Lightroom quality team together and start over because adding yet more functionality to Photoshop is definitely not the solution to this problem.

  • Chris — 5:54 AM on June 03, 2010

    Adding to the chorus of support for Fireworks, just in general. I’ve used Photoshop for years (for image editing, touch up and colour correction, not web work) but was curious of Fireworks, more so as I’ve delved into web work since. More recently I started just using it because it struck me that perhaps it’s the more correct tool. It’s an excellent application and was a pleasure to use for a recent project (something that would also have been cumbersome to do in Photoshop).
    I’m NOT calling Photoshop crappy – I’m a fan – the next is just in general (rant begins) – it annoys me greatly that the world is full of so-called professionals who can’t even step outside of their little realm of knowledge and attempt to use the right tool for the right job. But this is what most people are like I guess, it’s sort of similar to why so much of the internet was made for a broken browser for so long. We make these little ruts of mediocrity for ourselves, don’t we. The masses default to what they’re told to use – once a trendwave has begun we all get saddled with the burden of using the one crappy thing still on offer while we watch the better product get ignored and eventually discontinued.

  • Niklas — 6:47 AM on June 03, 2010

    I subscribe to your RSS feed and that is how I saw your call for input. Perhaps you should show the Fireworks guys that comment thread to show them that even (mainly) PS folks want to give FW some love?
    [You may be right. In the past, however, there have been concerted pile-on efforts that have not been very helpful. –J.]
    I also want to reiterate what J. Jeffryes and especially what Richard said.

  • thinsoldier — 8:39 AM on June 03, 2010

    “Fireworks for html layers. NO need at all for extra crap in photoshop. ”
    Lets say they drop the whole CS-wide HTML/CSS component idea along with the HTML/CSS layers in photosohp idea.
    They’re still working towards powerful general purpose programability of photoshop layers! Eventually some plug-in developer is going to use the programable layers features to implement the very same HTML/CSS layer ideas! Then ONLY PHOTOSHOP will have the feature and people who want to use it will have to buy a plugin.
    HTML/CSS layers and the recent 3d stuff are based on the foundation of programable layers. If programable layers are here to stay then I’d rather they give me something I’d actually use (HTML/CSS rather than the 3d stuff).
    “Even though Photoshop and Illustrator are getting better at dealing with Web, neither can do multi-page interactive prototypes that Fireworks can.”
    I tend to just build a simple web page for that. But then your style of sites may be a lot more flashy or intricate than mine or something.
    If done correctly you should be able to open the psd in fireworks and keep doing what youre doing in fireworks. Although someone like would rarely have do that since you never design sites in photoshop to begin with.

  • Anonymous — 12:35 PM on June 03, 2010

    [Both FW and FH were effectively dead when Adobe purchased Macromedia. Adobe revived FW but not FH. –J.]
    Um, what? From what perspective and according to what criteria exactly?
    [In terms of dollars (bodies) allocated to their development. The former FH engineering manager tells me, “Macromedia stopped development on FreeHand about a year before the merger was announced.” I’m sure people will say, “Oh, that’s because they knew the merger was coming,” but that’s not how companies are legally allowed to act. As for FW, I tried looking up the version history in order to illustrate just how little love it was getting in the late-Macromedia period, but I’m having trouble finding docs. –J.]
    I only became an avid Photoshop user AFTER Adobe’s purchase of Macromedia. Before that Fireworks reigned for me.
    The only reason it didn’t stay so was that I began taking graphic design classes at school, I wasn’t aware of any individual purchase option for FW, and Photoshop became ubiquitous in my immediate surroundings.

  • Michel — 2:10 PM on June 03, 2010

    1) This would be an awesome feature for Fireworks (CS6).
    Fireworks is for Web and screen, so extending it in this direction would be fantastic! Fireworks already supports easy export of HTML/CSS prototypes. Fw has Pages/Layers/States. Fw has Symbols. Fw is also a tool that is very easy to use for creating Web layouts & wireframes (you think *objects*, not *nested layers*), so imagine feature like this added to it!
    2) I am a fan of both Photoshop and Fireworks (and Illustrator). However, each tool has its strengths:
    — Fireworks is the perfect tool for *screen* and *Web* design, creating and modifying layouts in Fw is a breeze (faster and better than in Ps, sorry, but that’s the truth);
    — Photoshop is great for bitmap image manipulation and for print;
    — Illustrator is great for vector work and print.
    Please, keep each tool for what each tool does best!
    3) Your idea, in fact, is not new!
    It was discussed during Fireworks CS5 prerelease, but (you must know that), because of the NdA that every participant is subject of, I cannot tell you more.
    However, I suppose that you know Bruce Bowman (Fw’s PM) pretty well, so it would be easy for you to communicate with him. You have also access to the prerelease forums, including the archives.
    3) Finally, let me quote you:
    “For what it’s worth, I’ve been asking the FW team for four years to implement some version of this idea. They’ve liked the concept, but for whatever reason the work hasn’t happened.”
    Do you work at Adobe? Because if you work, you will know that the Fireworks team is one of the smallest teams, with one of the tiniest budgets! Or you don’t know that? Please, compare Fw development with Fireworks development!
    Do you know why Fireworks CS5 is mainly stability improvements and bugfixes, and the new features are not so abundant in CS5? Because there was a choice: new features, or stable & fast Fireworks. You know that the choice was made, and Fireworks CS5 is one of the best versions of Fireworks, ever. However, all things come at a price, and the price is that Ai and Ps have new features and are stable, but Fw is very stable (but hasnot many new features).
    Open your eyes! Fireworks is a great professional tool for Web designers! It is valued by many. It is used by many. However, even to the naked eye, it is clear that Adobe is not investing a lot of money/effort into Fireworks.
    Adobe is also not promoting Fireworks well:
    > Go to http://www.adobe.com. Look at the top left. You see the icons+names of Dw, Ai, Ps, PsElements (?), ColdFusion (??), Adobe Connect (???), Flex, Flash, Id, and so on and so on. But you do not see the icon of Fireworks?
    > Go to http://www.adobe.com. Open the PRODUCTS dropdown menu. Look for the letter “F”. You’ll see Flash Builder, Flash platform, Flash Professional, Flex… where is Fireworks??
    > Go to http://www.adobe.com/downloads/ — where is Fireworks (except in the super-long dropdown of “all products trials”)?
    The signs are visible. Adobe doesn’t like Fireworks. Adobe doesn’t invest enough resources in Fireworks. Adobe doesn’t promoted Fireworks.
    Yet, Fireworks was and still is, the easy to use, powerful, and one of the best tools for Web/screen/UI development! Fireworks is a program that is still used and loved by many design professionals!
    So please, give Fireworks some love, instead of telling us “I’ve been asking the FW team for four years to implement some version of this idea. They’ve liked the concept, but for whatever reason the work hasn’t happened.”
    I know the “whatever reason”. Others, may guess it, too:
    Not. Enough. Resources.
    Not enough money. Not enough developers. That is the real reason. Photoshop gets almost all of the Adobe love. All of the promotion.
    This should change. Fireworks is great, and it plays well with Ai/Ps, too. Give Fw some love, too!
    * * *
    Finally, please read the following article, published recently in Smashing Magazine:
    It might be interesting for you (including the comments).
    You will see that Fw is used in the real world, and a lot of professionals rely to it.
    Fireworks is great for Web design. Photoshop is great for other things. Yes, you can use Ps for web/screen design, and you can use Fw for print, but each tool has its strengths and limitations. Acknowledge that. Then give Fireworks some love, because it deserves it. Invest in it! Promote it!
    These are just my two cents…

  • Michel — 2:14 PM on June 03, 2010

    “Please, compare Ps development with Fireworks development!” is what I wanted to say, of course… :)

  • Michel — 4:25 AM on June 17, 2010

    It’s interesting to note that you did not reply to a single point of mine, in my previous rather long comment…
    [Sorry. I’m nearing 20,000 comments on this blog, and I just can’t reply to each. –J.]
    But yes, I forgot: This blog is about Photoshop for Photoshop users. So let’s add every single (im)possible feature to Photoshop and let’s make Fireworks continue to stand in the shadows… :(
    [Fireworks is a fine app, and FW fans will always blame its lack of adoption on “marketing” (first at Macromedia, then at Adobe). The reality is that while PS isn’t nearly as good at certain things, it’s good enough for the vast majority of customers, and they’ve voted–repeatedly–with their feet. In any event, the existence of FW doesn’t give PS license to let certain things keep sucking, nor will attempting to hold back PS help FW. I’d really love it if the FW community would give that one a permanent rest. –J.]

    • Isabel — 7:08 AM on March 11, 2013

      It is so weird to read this and compare to my experience when I show to other designers what Fw can do.. They all are amazed and quickly want more and soon switch.

      Only lazy designers would not give it a try and probably switch if they were really given the possibility of getting to know how FW would help them.

      But the truth is Adobe is not interested in changing this. They have PS as the flagship and I guess that’s how Adobe want it.

      In the meanwhile, hopefully more and more people will get to know these features and the software thanks to passionate users and the community while Adobe does nothing.

      And in this “nothing” is included not updating it, not giving information, not including it in the roadmaps, etc.

      And by not doing all this, the ones that already use it will no doubt switch to a better alternative, which is by no means PS.

      Cause once you get to see the advantages, the time you save, the ease of use and the best results it delivers despite all this, there is no coming back to do any web design with a photo editing tool.

      Unless you are lazy or absolutely crazy.

  • Mark — 1:58 PM on June 23, 2010

    “The former FH engineering manager tells me, “Macromedia stopped development on FreeHand about a year before the merger was announced.”
    Over the years of reading your blog, the FreeHand argument keeps rearing its head. Here it is again as I was catching up on some of your past entries for June. You have to repeat the above quote every time and what you said is correct, Macromedia DID stop development of FreeHand a few years before Adobe’s acquisition.
    What needs some clarifying is “why” it was stopped, as on face-value it appears it was due to customer apathy or sales. John, you’ll like this inside story of the bigger picture from the FreeHand/Fireworks developers via programmer, Andy Finnell: http://losingfight.com/blog/2007/05/17/rip-freehand/ I highly recommend a full read but this quote gets to the guts of Macromedia’s decision;
    “The most disappointing thing about FreeHand was Macromedia never let it live up to its full potential. After FreeHand fell behind Illustrator in market share, they pretty much ceded it. They had Dreamweaver and Flash, which were now their big money makers, and pretty much lost all interest in the print world. They kept trying to force FreeHand to be Flash, or to at least remake FreeHand for the web, instead of focusing on what FreeHand did best (print), and capturing that market.” – Andy Finnell
    Macromedia’s management had its eyesight set on web and live content and the print world was seen as archaic. The FreeHand staff knew this and put all their talents into making the last FreeHand the best it could be. Thus FH-MX is up-to-date enough that David Macy’s team is still pulling features from it and FreeHand users are still using it despite it’s age. (BTW, Macromedia also dropped Fontographer from their lineup as it too was print oriented, to be picked up by FontLab.com).
    So the question is why even hold on to FreeHand anymore? Sell it off or open-source it, but get it out of Adobe so you guys aren’t dealing with these endless criticisms and complaints. It’s been 4 years and no letup of the vocal FreeHand user base. Illustrator has farmed the features off it and if they haven’t pulled in FreeHand users after 4 years, it obviously isn’t going to happen. Illustrator has huge market share after all and the CHOICE campaign sure makes sense with selling off the old FreeHand.
    Hmm, maybe send GoLive along with it. ;^)

  • Chris Hart — 4:36 AM on July 29, 2010

    Isn’t all this talk of HTML layers a bit close to Dreamweaver?

    There is too much overlap is Adobe’s current suite of web design based product, and it all boils down to the fact that they are different teams catering to different fanbases that all actually want the same thing but started somewhere different.

    I still use Photoshop for my web design, because I have the vision and the knowledge to get past its flaws (I’d also challenge anyone to work quicker with buttons et al in Fireworks than me with vector shapes). But others in my agency using Photoshop for web opens up so many holes its unreal.

    I tried Fireworks for some time, and whilst I enjoyed most of it – it was slow and sluggish at best – I was told to stop, since nobody else could be bothered to learn it. :(

    Why not look into going straight to browser?, I remember when using InDesign that it felt like shell documents that I dropped and manipulated bits of content into. The browser is in that same space, especially with a Firebug type addon. Do your image work in Photoshop or Illustrator and build it in markup.

    Doesn’t do much to help Adobe though. :)

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