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Fireworks MX

fireworks-mx-lead.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    9.3 Spectacular
  • $299.00

Pros

  • Attractive and intuitive interface
  • Simple-to-apply special effects, such as rollovers
  • integrates superbly with other graphics applications from both Macromedia and Adobe.

Cons

  • No way to create curved animation paths
  • tiny display type makes interface hard to read.

True to its name, Macromedia’s Fireworks lets you build vibrant Web graphics in a flash. And now, it's easier to use than ever. As well as providing a more intuitive interface, Fireworks MX's new Property Inspector and quick-access special effects further simplify the editing process. Designers who already use a number of Adobe products may prefer the seamless integration of ImageReady and Photoshop. But when it comes to creating static images, Fireworks is easier to use. If you're an intermediate or advanced designer who wants quick, elegant-looking Web graphics, we recommend Fireworks.

Fireworks MX's streamlined interface looks similar to that of previous versions -- its primary toolbar sits on the left of the screen and contains various important tool panels, including Bitmap, Vector, Color and View. The right-hand panel contains libraries and toolsets, including Layers and Frames. However, Fireworks now lets you pull any toolset off the panel for easier access to its menus, then collapse or dock that toolset again to save space. Our biggest complaint is that the tiny display type is difficult to read.

The new Fireworks saves editing time, too. For example, select any object, text or image, and the new context-sensitive Property Inspector, similar to those in Flash MX and Dreamweaver MX, displays all of the adjustable settings that are specific to that item, such as image size and colour, so that you don't have to hunt for them. No more unnecessary fidgeting with tools and palettes. Good riddance to the text editor dialogue box, too. You can now type text directly onto the screen and set attributes such as font or size in the Property Inspector.

Want to create some snappy Web images? Fireworks imports all major graphics formats, including GIF, JPEG and BMP, and works with both vector and bitmap images. It also packs a generous assortment of vector-drawing tools, such as a Bezier pen, which lets you define and modify the shape of a curve, and geometric primitives, such as ovals, rectangles and polygons, for creating objects from scratch. As for bitmap tools, the brush, pencil, eyedropper and other implements let you edit images as you would in any image editor. To add special effects to your images, Fireworks has a few bread-and-butter filters, including blur, sharpen and colour adjustment.

Standard features aside, Fireworks' cutting-edge Web tools leave the competition in the dust. To create symbols -- copies of an object that help you manage repeating graphics -- for instance, just right-click an object and choose Convert To Symbol. From the Symbols library, you can then drag and drop the same symbol over and over.

Here’s another nifty Web feature: once you divide an image into distinct slices, or easily downloadable pieces, Fireworks lets you attach behaviours to each. To turn a slice into a pop-up menu, for example, just select the slice, choose Modify > Pop-up Menu > Add Pop-up Menu, then assign URLs to your menu items.

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And although Fireworks isn't a dedicated Web animator, it can create some basic animation. For example, you can make an object or bitmap travel across the screen, specifying the number of frames you want, the straight path for your image to travel, and whether it resizes, rotates or fades. We do wish, however, that Fireworks would let you create curvy animation paths.

Once you've completed your document, Fireworks' Edit menu lets you preview it in a browser and copy its HTML code to a file. Then, you can use the Quick Export button to save it in FreeHand (AI*), Flash (SWF) and Photoshop (PSD) formats, or HTML files tailored for Dreamweaver, GoLive and FrontPage.

Although Fireworks MX is complex, novices shouldn't worry. The program’s comprehensive Help files are accurate, concise and easy to read. You can find help files specifically for Fireworks MX at Macromedia’s Web site. In the meantime, you can phone or email technical support during your 90-day complimentary support period. Thereafter, you must purchase one of Fireworks' Bronze (£70), Silver (£100), or Gold (£450) support packages.

Despite its broad feature set, Fireworks MX is remarkably easy to master. We recommend it as the primary static-graphics application for all graphically-inclined Web designers.

Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Country Kits North America
Localization English
Category creativity application
Subcategory creativity - animation
Package Type retail
Distribution Media CD-ROM
Software
Subcategory creativity - animation
Category creativity application
License Type box pack
Min Supported Color Depth 8-bit (256 colors)
License Category shrinkwrap
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 64 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 80 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 SP6, Microsoft Windows XP
OS Family Windows
Additional Requirements CD-ROM, SVGA monitor
Min Processor Speed 300 MHz
Min Processor Type Intel Pentium
Header
Brand Macromedia
Product Line Fireworks
Model MX
Localization English
Country Kits North America
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC

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