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Fireworks CS3 Updater 1 Just Released

This does not show up on Adobe’s Web site yet but, as has been announced elsewhere, you can get the new Updater 1 for Fireworks CS3. You have to update through Fireworks by going to the Help menu and choosing “Updates”.

The update fixes several critical bugs including shadows not scaling correctly in 9 slice symbols as well as legacy bugs like the stray unwanted pixel bug around sharp vector nodes/anchors on a vector path. I’m not sure what else the updater fixes. According to Alan Musselman, the updater listed the fixes but I didn’t see it.

In any case, it’s very nice to see Adobe being so proactive with updates. Other updates released recently include patches for Version Cue and Bridge. Good going Adobe!

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New Adobe Fireworks CS3 Extension: Guides Panel

I just found out about a great new extension for Fireworks that will help you create, save and recall guides sets quickly and easily. This is a powerful new Flash panel based extension that really fills a hole in Fireworks’ native toolset.

If you have worked in other graphic apps like FreeHand, Illustrator or InDesign and enjoyed the flexible native guides management capabilities they offer, you will find this new panel a God send.

You can find out all about it here:

Fireworks CS3 Guides Panel Extension

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The New Adobe CS3 User Interface

Now that I have installed the new CS3 Design Premium release version and have actually spent some time working with the new applications, I’m starting to understand the fuss a lot of people made and are still making over the new Adobe user interface. Although I was a beta tester, I’ve mainly been using Fireworks and Dreamweaver CS3 because those are the apps I needed to use to work on my current projects. As you probably know by now, neither Fireworks nor Dreamweaver have been updated to the new Adobe UI.

I’ve been working on a new logo for my business site which will be used to perform a sort of rebranding of my business (both online and print collateral. I’d started the work in Illustrator CS2 and moved to CS3 last week to continue. In the included image, you can see the Illustrator interface with the latest revision of the logo in a landscape letter sized page at 100%.

In that image you’ll probably first notice that the main toolbox is now 1 tall column which saves precious horizontal screen real estate. I have it floating over the artboard as this is my preference but it comes docked to the left by default. On the right you’ll see a number of panels reduced to icons and labels which saves a lot of space and lets you concentrate on the work you’re doing. To the right of that you see the Layers and other panels in their “normal” openend stated like you are used to and, on my machine they are actually on my second monitor even if you see them in the same image as the main interface here.

To be honest, at first I was really sceptical about this new UI and, like many others,  I was worried that it would “break” the Macromedia UI which I generally found more efficient and elegant than the old Adobe UI. But as I use it more and more, what I’ve come to realize is that this new UI actually keeps what was best in both the old Macromedia and Adobe approaches. It is more flexible than the old MM style and solves the proliferation of countless screen space guzzling palettes in the old Adobe UIs. It looks very polished too but, more importantly, it works very well even if it does require some getting used to for an old Macromedia user like me. Even those who have been using previous versions of Adobe applications (also like me) will probably need a little time to find their bearings within the new UI.

To me, this new UI is a marvel of sophistication, elegance and efficiency and I am now somewhat disapointed that Fireworks and Dreamweaver will have to wait until CS4 o get the same interface. Lastly, I have to give the InDesign development team huge kudos for going the extra mile and adding even more sophistication to the concept by letting users add and delete items in the main menus as well as color code items that are used often so they are easier to spot. As I spend more and more time in ID to design the layout of my interactive PDF tutorials, I can appreciate all the extra effort they put in making ID one of the most sophisticated pieces of software I ever tried.

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Adobe CS3 Suites: Artificial Separation Between Web & Print?

There’s a lot of talk amongst users these days about the soon to be released Adobe Creative Suite 3 and how they have been separated into Web, Design and Production “flavours”. Many people think that this separation, especially the one between Web and Design (Print) is arbitrary and does not reflect the real life work flows of today’s designers. I completely agree.

The core of the isue is that, the Web Suite does not contain InDesign and the Design Suite does not contain Fireworks or Contribute. To me, Contribute is a niche product but Fireworks is already very important to many designer’s workflows and will become more so for people who relied heavily on the discontinued ImageReady. Many will now turn to Fireworks to perform the tasks they did in ImageReady. Maybe they will then realize that Fireworks is a lot more than a mere ImageReady replacement but that is another matter…

The point is that designers will increasingly need to work and publish in several mediums. The days of “pure” print or Web designers are counted and many of us already need to cater to mixed mediums workflows. Like many others, I need to work with both Fireworks and InDesign TODAY but I will now need to acquire one of the 2 suites then get the missing application as a standalone version thus increasing costs significantly.

I think this arbitrary separation between Web and print is a big marketing mistake on Adobe’s part. It is a disapointing blemish on one of the most exciting software releases I have ever seen. There is so much to love in each application’s new version. Adobe should have made their packaging far more flexible in order to better cater to their customer’s increasingly complex needs…