I just ran into this great run down of the new Fireworks CS3 application over on FireworksZone. Fireworks is such a kick-ass application as-is, and it looks like it's getting even better. I was lucky enough to attend the CS3 release party / webcast last week and they briefly touched on Fireworks as being a "prototyping" tool. What I saw there, and what I have seen in this review confirms my feelings that this is just silliness - Fireworks will continue to be the only graphics editing program that I need.
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Maybe I'm missing something, but can you all tell me what's great about Fireworks? I have a copy that came with Studio 8, but compared with Photoshop, it always felt like a lesser product. Don't get me wrong, I mean no offense. It sounds like several other ColdFusion guys really like the product too. Can you give me your best sales pitch! :)
Take a look at this blog post I wrote:
It sums up a lot of the feelings. However, I have not used CS2 or CS3 Photoshop versions very much, and I think those were updated a lot. Once our company purchases a copy of the Photoshop CS3, I am gonna give it a honest trial to see if I like it. Maybe I will. But to me, Fireworks is just so easy to use.
Admittedly I have used Fireworks only sparingly when it was in its infancy but as far as web graphics are concerned why would you need anything other that Photoshop? I'll have to take another look at FW.
I use it for web graphics... and all my other graphics. I find it highly intuitive and user friendly. You just point, click, select, drag, edit. I don't know about the newest Photoshop versions, but something that has always irked me to no end is the "selection" process in Photoshop. You can't just click on an item and select it - you either have to click on the layer (within the layers panel) or right on an item and select the appropriate layer from the drop down list of what tends to be a lot of layers with horrible naming (not the PS fault - bad designer mentality).
Plus, I used Photoshop before it had real Vector support, so when I started using Fireworks and it had amazing vector support, I was thrilled. I know that PS now has some vector support, but even now, when I go into someone else's file and try to resize a simple rectangle, it just always feels more difficult and non-intuitive.
But again, I have to say, part of it is just what you are used to. There's probably a million and one keyboard short cuts for both programs for power users. The biggest selling point for FW for me was that the learning curve was sooo small, where as the PS learning curve always felt very big.
I'm right there with you Ben. I feel overwhelmed when I look at Photoshop. I like the easy interface of FW and how simple things seem to be.
Ben Ben Ben...
I am a Photoshop user and never really liked fireworks. Yes i used it to create quick mockups of sites,but that is about it.
Ive used photoshop since very early and it just to me seems to outshine fireworks. I thought fireworks was going bye bye like a lot of people, but i am glad to see it hanging around.
As far as the selection stuff, there are ways to make Photoshop do what you want. there is an auto select checkbox that will then make it where you can select a layer just by clicking on it.
Dynamic graphics can be created, although ive never done it myself.
One thing i didnt like about FW at first was i was so used to keyboard shortcuts in photoshop that i kept catching myself doing the same shortcut and it would do something different. Not really Fireworks fault, but now that its under Adobe, i hope the shortcuts are similar.
I was very excited to see CS3 out and Photoshop CS3 extended. great stuff. some minor 3d added, and other things just wowed me.
I watched the webcast online and i didnt see them do that much demonstration of fireworks or photoshop, but i could have easily missed those parts.
so give Photoshop another chance. Im not here to try to defend it over Fireworks, as I use both and the both have their uses in my arsenal. Its like when I had a friend tell me they hated ColdFusion, and I asked him what version did he use, and he said version 5. 'nuff said.
Yeah, I am definitely gonna give it another try. As I will hopefully with all of the CS3 products. That is really cool that there is an auto-select checkbox..... and I am FLOORED that that doesn't seem to be checked by default during installation (or maybe all the people I know go out of their way to uncheck it).
I hear you on the key-commands. I am huge user of key commands and the one that always trips me up is that in Fireworks, CTRL+1/2/3/4/5 does zoom in/out. But, then in Photoshop, CTRL+1 does some sort of color filtering (no idea what it really is doing).
Plus, Photoshop has a bagillion filters. Fireworks has lots of practical filters, but it lacks all the cool, but perhaps not necessary filters that Photoshop has.
Yeah, at the CS3 event, they didn't do a whole lot of demo for PS or FW (FW was especially lacking). There was something awesome using Vanishing Point and mapping graphics to 3D surfaces, but I can't remember if that was PS or AI.
All to say, I agree - both are, in the right hands, forces of power. I think both have things that are very exciting.
Fireworks has more pixel-level control than Photoshop. For example, if you draw a shape in Photoshop, there is no way to stop the edges from being anti-aliased. FW is designed with pixels in mind.
With all respect guys, but comparing Fireworks with Photoshop is comparing like apples with organges. Sure, basically they're both image editors, but Photoshop is pure image editor per se, while Fireworks is mainly focused on web design.
Not many photographers would use Fireworks for image editing/retouching (just thinking about it makes me laugh) and neither would any digital artist even consider Fireworks. Imagine someone asking an artist at CGTalk.com which program he used to paint his version of the "Mona Lisa". If he would say Fireworks they would probably (with all respect for the program) laugh their butt off.
"Fireworks has more pixel-level control than Photoshop. For example, if you draw a shape in Photoshop, there is no way to stop the edges from being anti-aliased. FW is designed with pixels in mind."
You quite obviously never intensively used Photoshop Ben, otherwise you wouldn't make comments like that.
Personally I think Fireworks is close to a dead end. I haven't seen any major updates in the last 2 versions, for me that's a sign of times to come. Neither have I met many people who use Fireworks, Photoshop/Dreamweaver however seems to be a totally different story.
ImageReady is gone and Fireworks is pretty much taking over its low key role it always had.
"Not many photographers would use Fireworks for image editing / retouching".
I might agree with this. I would also say that it works the other way as well - Not many web developers would use Photoshop for web development.
As for no updates, CS3 Fireworks looks like it comes with awesome updates, including amazing integration with Photoshop and Illustrator.
Fireworks, I assure it far from dead.
Also, one final note, I use Fireworks for ALL my graphics. That means that I do do all my photo retouching in Fireworks (without laughing my butt off) and it goes quite nicely.
> I might agree with this.
> I would also say that it works the other way as well - Not many web developers would use Photoshop for web development.
Totally unrelated to the issue we're discussing. You made the comparison between image editing and not web design. But since you bring it up; Photoshop, as an additional tool for web design (often in combination with Dreamweaver), is a lot(!) more used than Fireworks. Actually my 2 million visitors/year Photoshop web site is completely done with Photoshop/Dreamweaver. Mind you, most people, which includes me, don't use Photoshop in the context of web design to generate code of any kind, they mainly use it to edit images, create buttons, slice layouts and stuff like that.
> As for no updates, CS3 Fireworks looks like it comes with awesome updates, including amazing integration with Photoshop and Illustrator.
Every CS3 product has these updates, nothing awesome, just a normal outcome of Adobe taking over Macromedia. Other than this I haven't seen any major new things in Fireworks.
> Fireworks, I assure it far from dead.
I agree, that Fireworks is close to dead is an exaggeration, but I'm sure that the top of Adobe's priority list includes Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, Indesign, Illustrator, After Effect, Premiere Acrobat, etc and not Fireworks.
> Also, one final note, I use Fireworks for ALL my graphics. That means that I do all my photo retouching in Fireworks (without laughing my butt off) and it goes quite nicely.
My wife uses ACDSee to edit her web site images with success, but does that mean ACDSee is as good as Photoshop? Have you ever gone through the camera raw images -> photo retouching -> professional printing cycle?
Have you ever fiddled with the advanced channels and masks in Photoshop? There are even people who write a (cough,…cough…) 544 page book about it (Photoshop CS3 Channels and Masks Bible by Stephen Romaniello).
Have you ever player with the dozens of non-destructive editing features of Photoshop? Ever played with Lab (people write a 400 page book about it, like Photoshop LAB Color: The Canyon Conundrum and Other Adventures in the Most Powerful Colorspace)
I'm sorry, but there is a reason why Photoshop is one of the most popular applications in the world.
This whole comparison of Fireworks and Photoshop in relation to image editing is like apples and oranges.
Let's be honest, Fireworks never had a true identity; it isn't Dreamweaver, it isn't Illustrator, it isn't Photoshop, it just tries to imitate all 3 with as a result a half-baked solution. That lack of identity is the reason why Fireworks has never become so popular.
Just be fair Ben, just because you never really got the hang of Photoshop, doesn't mean you have to continue to make Fireworks look better. That's like saying that flying isn't cool, because you never managed to get your flying license.
Ha ha ha, I didn't even know you could use ACDSee to edit images :) I use ACDSee as my primary image viewer, but I think the most I have ever done for editing is rotating the images.
JD, so, yes, I am not a photo editor. I don't use advanced channel manipulation or lot of really cool stuff for retouching. So, I cannot speak to that end. I cannot say for sure, but I think a lot of the color stuff that is in PS is also in Fireworks. But I simply don't use it, so I cannot compare.
And, to be fair, I am going to give PS CS3 a shot once my company gets a hold of it. I am NOT the enemy of "what is best". I want to be using the best tools out there. If PS CS3 proves better than Fireworks (CS3 or not), I will gladly switch over. Why use something that is not best for my needs? That would make me crazy.
As far as all the hundreds of page books that have been written about PS, is that a good thing or a bad thing ;) I have never read a manual for either PS or Fireworks, and yet, I have make leaps and bound of progress farther in Fireworks when compared to similar stuff I was doing in PS. Is that a reflection of the highly intuitive nature of Fireworks? Perhaps it is a reflection of how I see the world.
-- "Every CS3 product has these updates, nothing awesome, just a normal outcome of Adobe taking over Macromedia"
Just because every product has better inter-application compatibility, I don't think is "nothing awesome". I think this is HIGHLY awesome. I guess just a matter of opinion.
Also, one final note... just cause millions of web sites have been designed in Photoshop, that doesn't mean that it is a good thing. As a web developer, I work with LOTS of graphic designers who design in Photoshop traditionally. Some are good designs, most are not that good. If have to see one more WEB DESIGN file come though with anti-aliased text as the CONTENT text, I might have to kill who ever is sitting next to me. Who the hell thinks that content text should be anti-aliased?
Ok, but that's way off topic. That's a whole tangent about print-designers who think they can do web design and all the crap that comes with that....
But anyway, I will agree to not disagree until I have given PS another shot. As I said before, I am not opposed to using the best tool out there. I just have to be sold on which one it is.
You quite obviously never intensively used Photoshop Ben, otherwise you wouldn't make comments like that.
OK, so if you draw a rectangle with the shape tool in Photoshop, then zoom right in, you will see the edges are anti-aliased. Can you tell me a way to turn off this anti-aliasing? No, because there isn't one. However, the shape tools in FW, for example, do have this kind of control.
> Ha ha ha, I didn't even know you could use ACDSee to edit images :) I use ACDSee as my primary image viewer, but I think the most I have ever done for editing is rotating the images.
It shows how little you know: http://www.acdsee.com/products/photoeditor/topfeatures
So before you try to make me look stupid with your "ha ha ha", do some little research first Ben.
But even with the ACDSee file browser you can do some basic editing, which includes things like levels, healing, lens correction (pro), etc. I don't understand that why you think you need to make fun of me. Did you just assume that I was making up all this? Trust me… I already passed that stage 30 years ago that I called everything awesome and would make up stories to make other things look better.
> but I think a lot of the color stuff that is in PS is also in Fireworks.
Time for me to use the "ha ha ha".
> If PS CS3 proves better than Fireworks (CS3 or not), I will gladly switch over. Why use something that is not best for my needs? That would make me crazy.
How many times do I have to repeat that Ben (and I'm not the only one who he said that in the many replies); Photoshop is basically an image editor, all web design features are just a happy bonus. And as an image editor is simply unbeatable. I don't even plan to defend the quality of Photoshop as an image editor, there is simply no doubt in every knowledgeable person's mind that it's the best you can get in this specific area.
> As far as all the hundreds of page books that have been written about PS, is that a good thing or a bad thing ;) I have never read a manual for either PS or Fireworks, and yet, I have make leaps and bound of progress farther in Fireworks when compared to similar stuff I was doing in PS. Is that a reflection of the highly intuitive nature of Fireworks? Perhaps it is a reflection of how I see the world.
I'm the last one to deny that Photoshop is not an easy program to master. On the other hand, compared to mastering a program like Maya or even the user friendly Cinema 4D (and I talk from experience), Photoshop looks like an easy toy. Also remember that you're comparing apples with oranges again; Fireworks is mainly focused on web design, Photoshop is purely focused on image editing and it's undeniable that professional image editing is just a much more complicated process than designing some page layouts for a web site and then I'm only talking about the technical aspect, not the creative one. Otherwise I challenge you to fully understand color spaces, color cailbration for both screen and print.
> Just because every product has better inter-application compatibility, I don't think is "nothing awesome". I think this is HIGHLY awesome. I guess just a matter of opinion.
Of course it's great to have programs work better which each other, but it doesn't deserve the label "awesome". Awesome in my opinion is something that is considered a unique concept that is extremely useful, things that people get really excited about, that is front page news. Fireworks being very compatible now with product x,y and z is simply not front page news. No you can disagree with that, but I base that on years of new product releases (any product, not just Photoshop).
> Also, one final note... just cause millions of web sites have been designed in Photoshop, that doesn't mean that it is a good thing.
What is it with you thinking that Photoshop is a web design tool? How many times do I have to tell you that it isn't? I also clearly stated:
"most people, which includes me, don't use Photoshop in the context of web design to generate code of any kind". I also stated in one of my replies that I use it as an "additional tool".
Most people don't create code with PS like I said earlier, they slice, edit images, maybe create some buttons and stuff like that. That's not what I callw eb design. Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor.
Got ot now Ben?
Everything web design related is bonus. Like I told you earlier, and you totally ignored that (probably intentionally), is the fact that 90-95% of all new features in Photoshop are related to image editing. Does that sound like a serious web design tool?
> But anyway, I will agree to not disagree until I have given PS another shot. As I said before, I am not opposed to using the best tool out there. I just have to be sold on which one it is.
If you still have to be convinced, especially now with CS3, that Photoshop is the best image editor out there, I'm sorry, but then I think you will never be convinced. Here's a suggestion; go to any site, it doesn't have to be Photoshop related, and tell people that Photoshop is not the best image editor out there and read the responses.
If you want to make a fair comparison, then compare the web design part of Fireworks with Dreamweaver (not image editing or slicing) and you'll discover that Fireworks loses big time, but you already knew that, right? But of course you don't plan to compare with Dreamweaver, no you compare Fireworks with Photoshop. What's next, comparing it to Photopaint or PaintShop pro?
You know, it's the same story as Illustrator users saying how bad Photoshop is with vectors, while totally ignoring that Photoshop is a bitmap based editor or ignoring the fact that Adobe will never allow Photoshop to compete with Illustrator, it would be a wrong move from a marketing point of view.
> OK, so if you draw a rectangle with the shape tool in Photoshop, then zoom right in, you will see the edges are anti-aliased.
I don't know which ancient version of Photoshop you are using, but you can draw tens of rectangles and zoom in, even all the way to 1600% and you won't see any anti-alias. Now use some common sense; why would a rectangle need anti-alias, it's always lined up to a bare pixel. Btw, I double checked my statement and opened up CS2 and not anti-alias at all, no matter how many rectangles I draw.
> the shape tools in FW, for example, do have this kind of control.
Irregular shapes is another story. You're right when you draw a shape in Photoshop that is has anti-alias, but only on curves and not straight lines. How many prefer no anti-alias on curves? I tell you: a minority. If you want anti- alias turned off then there are simple techniques that can get rid of it, they don't even take 5-10 seconds.
But Ben, I don't blame you for not knowing all this, I even meet experienced Photoshop users weekly who don't know all the ins and outs, heck some never even heard of batching, let alone Photoshop scripting.
First of all, just to be clear, there are two different Ben's posting comments here. I assume you are responding to both of us at the same time, and not thinking we are the same person.
Second of all, you have to CHILL. I don't know if you are crazy on edge or just have an unusually large amount of sand in your vagina. You come off like I am attacking you in some way. Take the ACDSee comment for instance. You immediately think that I am laughing at you. What is up with that? I was laughing at the fact that I didn't know ACDSee did editing. Does it show my ignorance of the program? Maybe. Of course I don't care about its editing features. And plus, if was laughing at anyone about it (which I am not), I would be laughing at your wife for you using... what would you have to do with the situation?
I don't even understand this:
"So before you try to make me look stupid with your "ha ha ha", do some little research first Ben."
It's like not even coherent. You are blinded by so much rage at this point, it's like you are not even looking at what I write.
"Time for me to use the "ha ha ha"."
Again, I don't even know what you are talking about. Are you laughing at the fact that I don't use advance channeling? Are you trying to imply that I should be using it all the time or something and that I am foolish for not?
Again, you gotta Chill, man :)
"Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor, Photoshop is an image editor"
What are you trying to say to me?
"If you want to make a fair comparison, then compare the web design part of Fireworks with Dreamweaver (not image editing or slicing) and you'll discover that Fireworks loses big time, but you already knew that, right?"
OF COURSE. Fireworks is not a text editor. Dreamweaver is a text editor. They do two entirely different things. But, if you want to talk about code generation (of which they both do), they BOTH suck ass. You simply cannot generate good yet. Code should be hand written or your code generator should be highly personalized. So, sorry if you think I generate any of my code, but I do not.
ps. that "sand in you vagina" line is a reference to South Park, so I just realized that if you didn't know that, it might sound grossly offensive. It was meant to be funny, but out of context, it would not be.
When you first draw a rectangle in PS there appears to be no anti-aliasing because it draws to the nearest pixel. Just try resizing that rectangle and (under high zoom levels) you will easily see the anit-aliasing kick in.
The result is that, if you use shape tools in PS, including rectangles, rounded rectangles and lines for a web layout, and play about with the layout a bit, you will end up with anti-aliasing. This can be very undesireable when trying to use pixel-level control to make a web graphic look just right, and you will end up abandoning the shape tools all together and going back to bitmap tools in PS like the pencil.
In FW, on the other hand, you can continue to use the shape tools directly, because it is possible to just turn off anti-aliasing. That is a pretty nice bonus.
This JDonner is a plain idiot... enough said!
Sad thing is, this internet world is full of retards like him :(
I am a web developer and I've been using Fireworks since 2002. It is a superb program, much better for web and multimedia design than Photoshop.
Photoshop is the best PHOTO MANIPULATION tool in the world: it is great for prepress, enhanced photo manipulation etc. But it is a very bad tool for design.
Fireworks would be dead? It is a joke. After the CS3 release it will dominate the web design market.
Right now I am using Fireworks 8 to make DVD menus for Encore DVD 2.0. Why am I not using Photoshop? Well, Fireworks workflow gets the job done a lot quicker than Photoshop, plus it has excellent tools for joining and punching vector objects. The way Fireworks applies effects to objects is far more intuitive than Photoshop. Instead of digging thru a million menus, you just add the effect. I get a ton more done with Fireworks than Photoshop. I'm surprised Photoshop CS2 is as clumsy as it is. After Effects and Encore have a much better laid out workflow than Photoshop. In fact, Fireworks feels more like After Effects and Encore than Photoshop does. Photoshop CS3 is going to adopt the After Effects 7.0 panels, so hopefully it will become a more usable program.
It's true PS vector tools are poor, and not very easy to use, but then again you might expect that, since it's not designed for vector work. Try some photo manipulation work in FW and you'll soon see the great strengths of PS!
One thing that's strange about CS3 is that FW doesn't come bundled with 'Design Premium', even though Flash and Dreamweaver do. Very strange decision, and seems to imply that FW is not considered by Adobe to be a core program for web, more of an optional tool.
I think we need to come up with a definition for "photo manipulation." I only say that because it seems like photo manipulation is what sets Photoshop apart. And yet, I only use Fireworks and I think that I do what I consider "photo manipulation." I mess with hues and saturations, I smudge, I mess with brightness and contrasts, photo overlaying. I have never messed with channels and what not, but I am pretty sure Fireworks can do that.
I really need to learn more about photo manipulation in general.
Ben Nadel said: "I think we need to come up with a definition for "photo manipulation." I only say that because it seems like photo manipulation is what sets Photoshop apart."
Photoshop is not just a photo manipluation program. Go to CGTalk and check for example the 2D art section:
And while you're at it; check out what Photoshop CS3 Extended has to offer, because obviously you have no clue where Photoshop stands as of today.
It's a shame that Adobe have chosen to discontinue Freehand. Freehand and Fireworks used together are unbeatable as a combination of tools for web development. These two apps work so well in unison and partner both development in Dreamweaver and Flash.
I tried to use Photoshop when I first started out some years ago but found it quite overwhelming. However I have seen some fantastic work come out of the Photoshop camp and its community of users have made great techniques and practices available on the web, and I think that this is one of its main strengths.
Both Fireworks and Photoshop are great tools and the healthy rivalry between their respective users will constantly push the products forward.
Fireworks is a great tool , it does lack some print functions though ( but we can leave that for photoshop ) cmyk , etc , for creating images for the web, what more can u ask more ? Creating complex, rich looking interfaces is not a problem, even creating logos, fancy text etc, its basically for screen based design , if photoshop can do it, so can fireworks, its just about learning the right moves =)
check some fireworks goodies here , www.blue2x.deviantart.com
Since my last comment way back last year, I have switched from Fireworks to Photoshop as my main design app. I haven't really scratched the surface of Photoshop yet but there is no way I would turn back to Fireworks now. I still use it for small edits to jpgs and gifs but I have to concede....Photoshop is the dogs nads.
What kind of stuff are you doing with it? Are you building web interfaces or are you doing real photo manipulation?
As a web designer I'm mostly creating web interfaces but photo manipulation comes into the design process at various points. I am finding Photoshop gives greater precision and control over any given element that I'm working on. It's also a memory hog compared to Fireworks so I have just bought another giggabyte of memory.
I made the switch as I needed to go into full time employment last year, as a web designer/ developer and the company just wouldn't stand for me using Fireworks. The job was a total bore and I'm back working for myself (and doing OK ) but making the switch to Photoshop was a real benifit of the experience.
By the way....I'm using Photoshop CS3 extended which offers some amazing extra features for dealing with my 3D compositions.
That's really interesting. I think it just goes to show that everyone has different experiences / use cases. I definitely feel that FireWorks gives more precise control over elements. Of course, I think this probably has a lot to do with how well we know the respective applications. I definitely know FireWorks better than Photoshop.
Glad that you are getting enjoyment out of whatever you are doing. That's is more key than any given application ;)
I attended the CS3 release party here in SoHo NY and I have to agree, the 3D work in PSCS3 was definiitely badass! The way they could take an image and "wrap" it onto a multi dimensional shape like an open book or CD case... or even take an image and create a 3D model from it.
Definitely this is something that FireWorks cannot do with any easy or the same quality (even the CS3 version, which is clearly more about prototyping than Image editing).
So, I am a bit jealous about that, especially since I have to hack a lot of "distort" effects to get anything even close in FireWorks.
A long time ago, when the English Acorn RISC computer existed I had a vector graphics program called ArtWorks developed by Computer Concepts (later licensed to Corel and renamed and then droped by them and back as a separate company under the name Xara, and last year acquired by MAGIX AGS).
Anyway this is realy a great software and also the words fastest (according to the company..). I mostly use it for photo cropping, scaling and creating vector graphics for buttons, icons, banners and logos. I found it intuitive and easy to use, of course it lacks work flow integration with CS3 and batch functions as in PS. I have used it since 1987 and still after all years it has the same keyboard short cuts, and that is awesome. I realy recommend it, it comes in a commersial and also an open surce version for linux: http://www.xaraxtreme.org/
I would have to agree that for web design FW is a very comfortable tool. That's what I use all the time. I like the intuitiveness of its interface, I like its vectorish slant in dealing with objects. Photoshop tends to lure you into the raster mode, which is not always a good thing, especially when we speak of changing our mind down the road and re-doing some shapes. I do admit that when it comes to raster operations, PS shines. I usually do complicated effects stuff in Photoshop but import the prepped material into FW for actual positioning and slicing. I do find FW's workspace more intuitive and, frankly, its tidiness carries over onto the user. Most FW files I saw were better organized than PS files. Obviously, one can work neatly in PS as well, but its metaphor seems to be very lenient to sloppy users, or even invite such lack or order.
As a FW evangelist, I would like to see scratch disk control, external "proxy" graphics object, so that this tool becomes fit for large, cross-referenced projects. Due to its despicable use of RAM, FW is, unfortunately, not fit for hi-res complicated designs or large files with deep object nesting.
I feel sorry for FW. Had Adobe not acquired Macromedia, we would probably see way more aggressive development of this package. Macromedia never positioned it as a "prototyping" tool. On the other hand, maybe its my modest understanding of PS at work here. A package so popular with pre-print professionals couldn't be bad.
I am also very disappointed to see the demise of Freehand: it was a very nice tool that sure crashed fewer times than Illustrator. All the things that Adobe strives on today, aside from Photoshop, are inspired by Macromedia's untertakings. I love what Flash turned into, but then again, the major shift occurred back in the MX Pro days, while it was under Macromedia. The future of Director seems vague, despite the absence of any direct competition to speak of. I don't see it being aggressively developed and marketed. I get the feeling Adobe decided to let this package just fade away.
In the last paragraph of previous message I mean to say "All the things that Adobe THRIVES on..", not "strives". Sorry, English is my second language, I do occasionally have goofs like this one.