Macromedia Fireworks (beta)

by Joe Gillespie — Apr 1, 1998

Macromedia's latest web design offering is now in public beta stage and I was at the front of the line to download it in eager anticipation.

Fireworks is a single program, for Mac or PC, that combines the features normally associated with a whole load of other separate graphics programs used for producing web graphics.

Along with the mandatory text and image editing facilities, Fireworks integrates vector drawing, GIF animation, ready to roll JavaScript mouseover actions and a host of other goodies. It also includes very useful preview options for comparing the effect of graphics saved in GIF or JPEG formats.

I won't list all the features in this short review, you can read all about them on the Adobe site.

Bells and whistles, well, you have them all. The overall impression is that the guys at Macromedia have done their job and produced a tool that is every web designer's dream.

Accepting that it is a beta program and not a final release, the program is very stable and the unfinished bits are fairly easily identifiable as such.

I was a little disappointed to see that they had used the text entry box approach for text editing. Although it is a lot better than the Photoshop method, which gives very little control, I don't see why this can't be done straight on the page without the extra layer of interface.

There are lots of stroke and fill options using various brush tools which should keep the avid experimenter playing for weeks. The trouble is, that in a few months time, I expect that we are going to see these same textures appearing on site after site. Do you remember how, in the wake of the launch of QuarkXPress, nine out of ten corporate newsletters had dotted rules?

Macromedia claims to have researched web designers' needs extensively and have bundled all these tools and effects into one package quite successfully. I'm sure that budding web designers, especially those on tight budgets, will find that Fireworks has just about everything that they will ever need.

Although Fireworks is quick and convenient to use, and can accomplish a great many things, it doesn't necessarily do them as well as other separate programs. I think that more experienced and creative designers may prefer to pick and choose the best possible tool for each individual job.

Try Fireworks for yourself. Try Fireworks

Macromedia Fireworks
Features red bar95%
Ease of Use yellow bar75%
Value for Money green bar70%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar80%
Manufacturer Macromedia
Price $299
Summary Unprecedented range of tools but perhaps a little overpriced.
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