Introducing Adobe Fireworks CS5

Posted: April 17, 2010 Comments(22)

Adobe has published a really extensive piece surrounding the details behind Fireworks CS5. I’ve talked about it with a few designers, both Fireworks and Photoshop users, and had a gut feeling that it would be mostly a bugfix release. While every Adobe product under the sun needs at least one full version release consisting of mostly bugfixes, I gladly welcome Fireworks CS5. The fixes mentioned in the piece have me really excited to put more time into working with the application after it’s released.

My favorite bits

There are a few things that stick out to me as a big deal. I’ll start off by dismissing what I really don’t care about and would honestly prefer not to be there: integration with Creative Suite is not something I actively look for and could do without. I’ve got no interest in Flash Catalyst no matter how hard Adobe shoves it down our throat, and while Device Central has a smidgen of potential for being partially useful, I bet I’ll never run it. On to the goods:

Bugfixes! Lots of bugfixes! Performance boosts!

  • 900+ bugs fixed
  • 110 improvements to increase reliability
  • Recovered files feature for Mac OS

I find it hard not to smile a bit about each line item here. While we take numbers like 900 and 110 with a grain of salt, every little bit counts. I especially like the sound of the recovered files feature (sorry Windows users, but wasn’t it “time” quite a bit ago?) as even with constant saving, Fireworks has a tendency to feel a bit shaky with every beachball.

I’ll believe the performance boosts when I see them, but the sluggishness was always the first thing to come up as a gripe when showing people how I use Fireworks.

It stinks that we’re still dealing with the text shifting issues that grossly plagued the initial release of CS4 (how that made it to market in the first place I have no idea) it sounds like they put a lot of effort into doing as much as possible to resolve it; great news.

Pleasant Pixel Perfection Palettes

One of the many core reasons I prefer Fireworks is the focus on pixel measurements, to hear that it’s a flagship feature for CS5 has me giddy.

Fireworks Pixel Perfection pallette

Proportion constraints, gradient dithers, stroke alignment, compound shape tools. Yes.

Adobe Swatch Exchange (ASE) Support

I’m quite happy about the inclusion of ASE support:

Screenshot of Adobe Fireworks CS5 swatches

Working with stored swatches is something I can see myself using to save a quite a bit of time and improve overall consistency. Bring it on.

General Interface Improvements

From what I’ve read, it sounds like Adobe spent a decent amount of time improving UI across the entire Creative Suite. That’s great for everyone. Personally I don’t find Adobe applications disgusting to work with by any means, but there is extensive room for improvement in the consistency department, especially when it comes to Fireworks.

Text engine improvements

It looks like we’ll have even more control over type in Fireworks CS5, thank goodness. I’ve become frustrated with the quirkiness of working with kerning and tracking in Fireworks even on the level of moving the sliders around. Many times Fireworks will opt to work with only even or only odd numbers, not very conducive to fine grained detail control.

I’m especially looking forward to the features like:

  • Ability to multi-select, non-contiguous text characters inside a text block.
  • Ability to select similar characters inside a text block.
  • Ability to undo changes at the character level while still in text editing mode.

Features like these should help with the comp revision process as client approval is obtained.

Really looking forward to Fireworks CS5, but…

While all of this sounds great, I’m still focusing on Acorn on being my go-to design application. Guides are in the latest beta: check. As soon as layer styles find their way in, it’s going to be extremely difficult for me to find good reason to stick with Fireworks primarily.

Software rocks.

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  1. The part that rings loudest here is the fact that you’re looking at Acorn – (me too, plus Like Thought’s Opacity )
    Having used Fireworks since Version 1, for laying out CD multimedia screens in mTropolis, all the way up to ~ version 8, I’d seen some excellent growth. But the last few versions have been torture. I’d mentioned elsewhere that with features like “Uninstall times reduced by 36–79%” ( ) I can only assume FW will get less and less love and ultimately go the way of FreeHand. Adobe, please prove me wrong.

  2. I have been trying out some Adobe alternatives also. Unfortunately, I come away thinking that there isn’t any real competition yet. I do like Acorn quite a bit, but the lack of a pen tool is almost a deal breaker for me.

    Looks like I will be upgrading to Fireworks CS5 until something can compete a little better.

  3. Have used Fireworks since v1 for all web and UI work, always weirdly found colours, especially greens are more accurate from Fireworks than Photoshop!

    ASE support is a massive bonus, that has been my biggest gripe, the multiple steps to pick colours, after you set up the palettes.

  4. Yeh, I think the new features could well be worth the wait. Only thing I wish we had got was tables, rather than having to line up loads of text boxes.

  5. I’ve been testing Fireworks CS5 for some time already. I can say that definitely, this version is much faster and much more stable than CS4! The improvements are noticeable! Also, some of the new features are really neat — Compound Shapes, gradient dithering, improved text engine, better Ai/Ps support, better PI panel…

    I would recommend this version to anyone running CS3 or CS4! 🙂

    And I still do not see a real competitor to Fireworks — Fw still beats Ai+Ps combined, when it comes to design and prototype for Web/screen. I hope Adobe will only improve this great piece of software!

  6. Anyone knows when is the release of the Fireworks CS5?..
    I’m using Fireworks CS4 for web project..
    please share if anyone knows.. i’m so interested with cs5..
    Fireworks is very nice for web design

  7. I’m very disappointed that they didn’t implement using Photoshop bruishes;-( That would have been a kliing feature for me. So I’m still unsure upgrading to CS5.

  8. Although this is about Fireworks and not Photoshop, I lately find myself starting up Fireworks only for image compression jobs (jpgs, pngs …) among other tools.

    And I can’t understand why Adobe still hasn’t come up with the idea to use the Fireworks-Engine not only within Fireworks but also in Photoshop for the “save for web” module.

    Using their entire CS4 Design suite it makes me angry everytime when I compare filesizes of pngs saved with Photoshop vs Fireworks and get reminded that their best tech for the job is not available from within their Image-“Pro”-Tool Photoshop.

  9. I have, yes Paul. I’m a lot less interested in the app simply because it appears to build upon the conventions Photoshop has put in place. While a lot of people love it, I’d like to see something that thinks outside the box that was designed so long ago as Photoshop became what it is today. Perhaps Photoshop has it right, the interface is what it is, it’s nothing terrible. I like that Acorn is even more out of your way focusing more on dialogs instead of HUDs. I absolutely keep my eyes peeled on Pixelmator and look forward to checking out each and every release. I have not, however, purchased a license as I have for Acorn (twice).

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