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Fireworks has come a long way from its roots as a screen graphics editor. As Jim Babbage demonstrates in Fireworks CS4 Getting Started, the latest release can serve as a rapid prototyping tool for a variety of uses--a central hub in the design and production workflow. Since Fireworks is a hybrid imaging application, able to seamlessly mix vector and bitmap images, layered Illustrator and Photoshop documents can be imported, edited, and restructured. Jim shows how to customize the interface and use layout tools like Smart Guides and the 9-Slice Scaling tool to quickly position and align objects on the canvas. He also discusses a variety of delivery options, including web-optimized graphics, interactive PDFs, AIR prototypes, and standards-compliant CSS and HTML. Example files accompany the course.
What is Fireworks? Well, I'm glad to say that's a question I don't hear nearly as often as I used to. the number of people who know what Fireworks is all about is increasing, but chances are you're probably here because you don't know a lot about Fireworks and want to learn how this application could fit into your workflow. So let's take a few minutes and talk about this unique application's characteristics. First and foremost, Fireworks is a hybrid imaging application and that means it can work seamlessly with bitmaps and vector images inside the same document. So we get an example here, I've got a vector image here of a little wetsuit. I can go ahead to make some changes to this and I can quickly switch over to my bitmap and maybe go to my filters and let's say, add a color. Let's change the saturation. So we get really, really quick changes back and forth. I can hop back over to my vector. Again, make more changes to that. So really quick and seamless movement between the two types of graphic formats.
Layout tools inside the Fireworks may get a snap for helping you mock up different types of designs whether it's for a website, whether it's for AIR prototype, whether it's for an interactive PDF. You've got all these options at the tips of your fingers. So if I go back and grab my little wetsuit guy again here, you can see as I move him around you'll see these little lines show up around him, and this is a new tool inside Fireworks CS4 called Smart Guides. It helps me quickly line things up to other objects within the canvas area. Another very handy tool inside the Fireworks is a 9-slice Scaling tool. So I can grab this little shape here and let's turn it into the background for my overall accessories area here. So I'm just going to reposition that. I've got to grab my 9-slice Scaling tool and the great thing about this tool is I can actually re-scale an object like a rectangle without distorting anything in the process. Makes it very, very easy to reposition things the way I want. There we go.
If you like to use guides to help you position different elements on the screen, blocking out areas for different objects, one of the very helpful features of Fireworks is the ability to see the distances between those guides. So if I hold down my Shift key, you can see I get a pixel precise display of distances between the guides nearest to my cursor; how far away they are in terms of width, in terms of height. Really a great little feature. Now I think of Fireworks as kind of like my central hub in my design process. I can bring in files like Illustrator files and have all the editability there, all my vectors are still vectors. I can do anything I want to them and make changes to them. I can also bring in Photoshop files, and again make edits to those.
Change different elements, optimize it for the web, restructure my layers, whatever I want to do. I can bring all these things into Fireworks. I'm not stuck with having to build everything from scratch inside of the program. I can bring in other designs from other applications. More than ever Fireworks give you options for delivering your content in a variety of different formats. For example, if I over this little miniature site here I can go to File > Export and export this as an interactive PDF, just like that, so the client can view it offline, make comments and fire back the PDF to me with any kind of feedback they have.
I can also export designs out as AIR prototypes right through the Commands menu, just like so. And Fireworks hasn't forgotten its web roots either. If I go to File > Export, we have a brand new feature in here, CSS And Images, which gives me the ability to export out standards-based CSS and HTML layout. So now I'm going from design into production seamlessly. To top it all off a good and easy to configure interface. We can expand and collapse panels to maximize our workspace. We can reconfigure the panel groups, overall making Fireworks an application where it's easy for us to work the way we want to work.
Fireworks has come a long way from its roots as a screen graphics editor. With this latest release, Fireworks is making its market a rapid prototyping tool for a variety of uses. Tied in with Fireworks easy-to-use interface and its hybrid graphics capabilities for seamlessly working with vectors and bitmaps, I think you'll find many reasons to want to learn more about this program and make it part of your everyday workflow.
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