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In Fireworks CS5 Essential Training, author Jim Babbage gives a detailed overview of Fireworks CS5, Adobe's software for creating and optimizing web graphics and interactive prototypes. This course includes a detailed tour of the interface, the enhanced PNG format, and the image editing toolset in Fireworks. Critical concepts, such as prototyping for HTML applications and working with symbols, the heart of an efficient workflow in Fireworks, are covered in detail. Exercise files are included with this course.
Fireworks uses an enhanced version of the PNG format as its native file format. This version maintains instructions and information for all the editable elements within the file, such as layers, live effects, masks, bitmap selections, just to name a few. This native format is much like Photoshop's PSD format or Illustrator's AI format. It's a way to keep as much of the file as editable as possible. One common area of confusion when we're dealing with the Firework's PNG file format is its differences from the standard or flat PNG. It's very important that you understand those differences.
So I've got, onscreen here, a little collage of images. This is a Fireworks PNG file. If we take a look over in the Layers panel, you'll see that we have multiple objects inside of this design. I can select these images independently from the Layers panel. I can select them right on the screen. I can reposition them, move them anywhere I like. They are all separate elements withinside the same file. If you come from Photoshop, very much like a Photoshop file. Now, compare that with this version.
Now we have basically the same image. All the same photographs are there. Everything looks pretty much the same. But if I try to move a photo, I can't move a photo. I'm moving everything. This is a flattened version of the PNG format. If you take a look over in the Layers panel, you'll see that there is only one object inside the entire file. All the elements, all the images, the vectors, the bitmaps, have all been flattened into a single graphic file format. Now you might be wondering, if I have this editable version with all these layers and stuff, why won't I want a flat version? Well, the main reason is PNG format is also a common graphics format for the Web.
The Fireworks PNG file format, because of all the extra information that's added to the file, is a very large file. So, it's not the kind of graphic you'd want to use on a Web page. But a flat version is much more acceptable. So, that's the skinny on the Fireworks native file format. Remember, when you want to have an editable file that you can continue to alter and change, save it as a Fireworks PNG file. When you're ready to send that image to the Web, you can certainly export it out as a standard flat PNG.
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