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Product: Adobe Fireworks CS3
Company: Adobe
$299.00 Upgrade: $149
Review By: Andre Da Costa

A solution for optimizing image files such as bitmap and vector based art for the web. Fireworks is now a part of the Adobe CS3 line up after it was purchased as part of the Macromedia application portfolio in 2005. It is designed to integrate easily with Adobe solutions such as the popular Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Flash. Fireworks is focused primarily on vector editing, similar to Adobe Illustrator, with limited bitmap capabilities. This is opposite to the approach used by Photoshop, which is primarily for bitmap graphics with limited vector editing features. Vector objects in Fireworks can be resized with no loss of quality, just as in Adobe Illustrator. Fireworks CS3 features strong support for features like frame animations, styles, JavaScript, and HTML/XML output. Here are some of the features and improvements Adobe has added in this release:

New Features:

·          New Macintosh and Windows OS support: Design and develop on the platform of your choice. Fireworks CS3 is available for PowerPC® and Intel® based Macs as well as Microsoft® Windows® XP and Windows Vista™ systems.

·          Efficient Photoshop and Illustrator integration: Import Adobe Photoshop® (PSD) files while retaining hierarchical layers, layer effects, and blend modes. Save Fireworks (PNG) files back into Photoshop (PSD) format. Import Adobe Illustrator® (AI) files while retaining graphic integrity, including layer, group, and color information.

·          Hierarchical layer organization: Organize and manage your prototypes with a new hierarchical layer structure — similar to the one in Photoshop — that enables you to easily organize web layers and pages.

·          Intelligent scaling: Intelligently scale buttons and graphic symbols (in vector or bitmap) with 9-slice scaling. Combine 9-slice scaling with the new Auto Shape library to accelerate website and application prototyping.

·          Multipage support: Use the new Pages panel to create multiple pages in a single document (PNG file), and share layers across multiple pages. Each page can contain its own slices, layers, frames, animations, and canvas settings, making it easy to simulate website flow in a prototype.

·          RIA layout prototyping: Prototype layouts for rich Internet applications in Fireworks, and then export them directly to Adobe Flex™ software while retaining absolute positioning and styling.

·          Customizable assets: Jump-start your prototyping with a common library of frequently used graphic symbols, text symbols, and animations. Use the new Symbol Properties panel to customize symbol attributes.

·          Adobe Photoshop blend modes: Customize the appearance of your images with seven popular blend modes from Photoshop: dissolve, linear burn, linear dodge, vivid light, linear light, pin light, and hard mix.

·          Adobe Bridge integration: Enjoy a more efficient workflow with Adobe Bridge CS3, which offers central access to project files and batch processing that can include multiple Adobe applications.

·          Streamlined Dreamweaver and Flash integration: Copy any object in Fireworks CS3 and paste it directly into Adobe Dreamweaver® CS3 software. Create pop-up menus that can be saved as CSS and HTML. Export Fireworks (PNG) files directly to Adobe Flash® CS3 software while maintaining vectors, bitmaps, animations, and multistates, and then edit in Flash CS3.

The Fireworks CS3 release is definitely showing its key strengths by being a key companion to critical Adobe solutions. In today’s multimedia based web world, working with images is always a given, so it’s no doubt that Photoshop would be at the top of the list if you use Fireworks. Opening Photoshop files are automatically preserved if options such as nested layers, layer names, grouped elements and even layer styles have been applied. You can effortlessly copy and paste content between both applications too. Some of the highlights of Fireworks and Photoshop’s integration designers will definitely appreciate include Photoshop Layer styles or even Live Effects.

Photoshop, Illustrator Integration

Fireworks adds new support for seven popular Photoshop blending modes, choices include: dissolve, linear burn, linear dodge, vivid light, linear light, pin light and hard mix which now totals to 45. This guarantees that Photoshop PSDs imported into Fireworks will keep their elements intact resulting in easier movement between both applications.

Native Illustrator files can be imported directly into Fireworks preserving its attributes such as layers, groups and colours. Gradient fills, pattern strokes and pattern frills also retain their appearance of RGB colours, opacity and transparency settings, the number and position of Bezier anchor points on vector paths, clipping masks and linked images. This allows for easy grouping and scaling of design elements with Fireworks, so prototyping site designs and layouts is now a whole lot easier.

There is now a much improved layer handling in Fireworks allowing better management and organization of designs through the new hierarchical organization structure. Fireworks CS3 frees the user from the restriction of a single level of layers. Sub layers can be created as needed and items can be moved into them or parts of a layer to another at anytime. If you want, you can nest multiple sub layers into layer folders.

Flash, Dreamweaver Integration

Moving content between Fireworks and Flash is so much easier and quicker. A Fireworks PNG file can be imported and you can translate Fireworks layers and frames into Flash layers and frames, and maintain discreet bitmap and vector elements rather than flattening the original image. For quick edits, you can copy and paste from Fireworks into Flash. Important file structure is maintained, including 9-slice scaling guides for symbols.

Copy and paste any Fireworks object into Dreamweaver HTML documents, or import Fireworks HTML. Where relevant, Fireworks will prompt you to optimize the content and save the files. A link will be preserved if subsequent edits are needed. You can also leverage the improved CSS export functionality in Fireworks to import editable code into the advanced coding environment in Dreamweaver.

Multiple Web Pages / Layers

Fireworks CS3 adds a new ‘pages’ feature to its organization and creation approach. You can now build complex website pages stacked in a single PNG file. Each page contains its own canvas document, size, colour, layers, frames, image resolution and guides. Layers can now be applied to a single page or shared across pages including Web Layers. For Shared Layers they are coloured yellow for easy identification. For rapid prototyping, you can create workflows with hyperlinks, image rollovers and hotspot controls on multiple pages and carry common elements such as navigation bars across multiple pages which results in small more efficient files. Fireworks can also export all Fireworks pages at once to multiple HTML pages.


Traditionally, when you apply scale transformations to objects, the entire object is transformed as a single unit. With certain kinds of objects, especially geometric shapes with styled corners, the result is an object that appears somewhat distorted. Fireworks CS3 introduces a new feature called 9-slice scaling, which allows you to intelligently scale vector or bitmap symbols. By positioning a set of guides over artwork, you can define sections off the symbol to scale in specific ways on the canvas.

Rich Symbols and Common Library

Rich Symbols are collections of graphics and JavaScript that are functional symbols within the Fireworks canvas. Examples include common web page elements, such as form elements and user interface controls for browsers and operating systems. A Numeric Stepper, for example can be customized to show a different label, colour, or a specific state such as being disabled. Because of their diversity, Rich Symbols can be used for prototyping applications as well as for designing pages, and can be stored in the Fireworks Common Library. Acting as an asset, repository, the Common Library can be used to leverage content across multiple documents.

Rich Symbol attributes supports editing of font, colour, shape and line weight using the new Symbol Properties panel, and even create scripts for greater control of symbol properties. The attribute changes that are specified in the Symbol Properties panel are made to the symbol instance, which means that the source symbol remains intact and untouched. As a result, there’s no need to create multiple instances if you want to adjust symbol attributes. You can now quickly create multiple appearances by leveraging one universal symbol.


For those who prefer to prototype the idea, Fireworks CS3 fully supports you. You can create a combined pixel and vector features unique to Fireworks, or import native Photoshop PSD files or Illustrator AI files which preserve layer attributes. The new Pages feature allows rapid prototyping of an entire website in a single Fireworks document.

Final Comments

How It Grades

Installation: 90%
Features: 87%
Ease of Use: 87%
Price/Value: 90%
Documentation: 92%
Overall: 89%

Fireworks CS3 shines as an essential companion for both the Adobe Creative Suite 3 core applications and the web developer. The new Pages feature will allow for prototyping that allows you to bring your content to the web faster. Superb integration with Photoshop will be much appreciated and allows users to do more than they could have with Adobe Image Ready. Great highlights worth mentioning include Intelligent Scaling allowing you to do stuff you would other wise find a hassle trying to accomplish in other applications, making it a perfect stand alone solution both for the traditional graphic designer and web developer.


Specs & Package
Overall Score 89%
Version Reviewed Fireworks CS3
Release Date Out Now
The Good Points

Website prototyping with Pages Panel

Improvements’ to hierarchical layout maintains image quality

Intelligent scaling enables better control of web objects

Strong Creative Suite 3 integration

Support for Photoshop effects

The Bad Points

Glitches with layer fidelity with shared between Photoshop and Illustrator

In The Box
3 DVDs, 1 Manual
Similar Product Microsoft Expression Web
System Requirements
  • Intel® Pentium® 4, Intel Centrino®, Intel Xeon®, or Intel Core™ Duo (or compatible) processor

  • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista™ Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit editions)

  • 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)

  • 1 GB of available hard-disk space (additional free space required during installation)

  • 1,024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card

  • DVD-ROM drive

  • QuickTime 7.1.2 software required for multimedia features

  • Internet or phone connection required for product activation

  • Broadband Internet connection required for Adobe Stock Photos* and other services



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