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Adobe Fireworks CS3 Adobe Fireworks CS3


Fireworks lets you draft Web page mock-ups with rollovers, animated graphics, hot spots, and other effects. Fireworks can then export the design as an HTML file ready for coding by hand or sprucing up in a layout tool such as Dreamweaver.

The upgrade of this mock-up maker offers smoother integration with other Adobe applications, which speeds up the work flow. The Creative Suite 3 release also brings the look and feel of Fireworks, a former Macromedia property, closer to other Adobe applications. However, the subtle changes don't require Fireworks veterans to relearn the software. You can either buy Fireworks CS3 individually for $299 or get it bundled with the Web, Design, or Master Collection suites (see chart below).

Fireworks CS3 imports layers from Photoshop and Illustrator files, and it enables new blend effects including glows and bevels.

Now you can import both PSD and AL files into Fireworks. Added integration with Photoshop includes the capability to preserve blend modes and effects from PSD files. You can either import Photoshop layers with those attributes turned on, or add the filters and effects from within Fireworks. Imports from Illustrator keep gradients, pattern strokes, and fills, and even linked images intact. You can move Fireworks content smoothly between Flash and Dreamweaver as well. Because all the CS3 programs share underlying source code, each one opens in a flash once you have one application running.

Adobe has added small changes that address frustrating aspects of older versions of Fireworks. For instance, now you can resize graphics without distorting their proportions, with the use of nine-slice scaling. The autoshape tool makes it easier to control the curved edges of shapes. And a new color palette allows customized sets of colors. To prevent duplication of work, you can share customized palettes throughout the CS3 suite, and share layers across Fireworks pages.

Fireworks CS3 includes a new color palette that lets you customize palettes and color tables, which can be shared with other CS3 apps.

Unfortunately, however, Fireworks' fonts aren't as intuitive as we'd like. For instance, if you scrolled through hundreds of items in the Text menu to pick the "Poor Richard" font, that selection will appear on top the next time you open the font menu. However, beneath "Poor Richard," Fireworks will display fonts starting from the top of the alphabet instead of those starting with the letter "P," where you left off.

Fireworks CS3 also offers a Common Library of designs for buttons, animation, and graphics. There are symbols for flow diagrams, arrow buttons, and buttons with bevel effects. There's even a list of symbols in the styles of both Windows XP (none for Vista at this point) and of Apple OSX. In addition, there's integration with Adobe's Flex framework for creating Web-based applications

Overall, Fireworks CS3 feels faster and a bit handier than the CS2 version, particularly for its drag-and-drop content-sharing capability with other CS3 software. Once we dig deeper, we'll report back soon with more details and a rated review.

Adobe Creative Suite 3 packages
  Price: full Price: upgrade
Creative Suite 3 Master Collection
Creative Suite 3 Master Collection
$2,499 $1,999 (from Studios, CS, or CS2);
$1,399 (from two older suites)
Creative Suite 3 Design Premium
Creative Suite 3 Design Premium
$1,799 $599 (from Studios, CS, or CS2);
$1,599 (from individual apps)
Creative Suite 3 Design Standard
Creative Suite 3 Design Standard
$1,199 $399 (from Studios, CS, or CS2);
$899 (from individual apps)
Creative Suite 3 Web Premium
Creative Suite 3 Web Premium
$1,599 $499 (from Studios, CS, or CS2);
$1,399 (from individual apps)
Creative Suite 3 Web Standard
Creative Suite 3 Web Standard
$999 $399 (from Studios, CS, or CS2);
$799 (from individual apps)
Creative Suite 3 Production Premium
Creative Suite 3 Production Premium
$1,699 $799 (from Studios, CS, or CS2);
$1,199 (from individual apps)