Fireworks is NOT Photoshop!

Yes, I know that I’m repeating myself and I know that this is obvious to most of you. But apparently it’s not obvious to many and I think it’s worth repeating.

Recently I started to see a lot of the misconceptions about Fireworks I have been talking about here and which prompted me to write this article. Once again, Fireworks is NOT Photoshop (obvious) but more than that, Fireworks is not the same kind of application as Photoshop and this is not so obvious apparently…

Like I said, I’ve started coming into contact with many people for whom Fireworks is new or who have been working with it basically the same way they would work in Photoshop. I think the simplest way this can be put is that Fireworks is just like Illustrator with some Photoshop-like functionality. But at its core it’s a vector based application just like Illustrator or FreeHand but unlike those two apps it can edit raw image pixels directly just like Photoshop. That makes Fireworks a hybrid vector/raster application with a primarily vector based workflow. Layers in Fireworks for example work like Illustrator’s NOT Photoshop’s (Fireworks layers contain “objects”, not just pixels). I’ll stop here for now but if you want more detailed information, read my article.

Adobe, Macromedia & Fireworks

There has been a lot of discussion in blogs and newsgroups following the recent closing of the transaction for the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe. I have been reading a lot about it in the last few days, official words and commentary alike and there’s one thing that’s really been bugging me in many of the coments I’ve seen.

There’s a lot of people who seem to be confused about what Fireworkis is or what it can do. They speculate that Fireworks is doomed because it’s not as “strong” as Photoshop or worse, because it “competes” with ImageReady. Both statements are dead wrong.

First of all, Fireworks is fundamentally different in nature than both Photoshop and ImageReady as it is a true vector based application (not a raster application with awkward vector features tacked on like Photoshop…). Fireworks’ bitmap tools indeed do not have the depth of Photoshop’s but it doesn’t have the same purpose either. Fireworks was designed for the creation of Web graphics only. It does not have Photoshop’s print heritage. There is really no direct comparison between the two apps other than they their sharing some functionality and both are used to create Web sites graphics (although I really can’t think why anyone would subject themselves to the tedium of laying out a Web site in Photoshop…).

Secondly, comparing Fireworks with ImageReady makes even less sense despite what many people seem to think. ImageReady is really nothing more than a glorified slicing, optimizing and exporting tool and while those tasks are certainly part of what Fireworks does they’re only a fraction of its functionality. Fireworks is first and foremost a creative tool whith which you design site layouts and graphics, not a mere “slicing and dicing” tool used after the “real” work gets done in a more sophisticated application like Photoshop or Illustrator.

With Fireworks there is no middle man, you create then slice then optimize and preview graphics right within the same integrated and efficient interface with precise and flexible vector as well great bitmap tools. Regardless of the innacurate information some are spreading about Fireworks and beyond all the speculation surrounding the acquisition and plans for specific products, I choose to hope that Adobe will be smart enough to recognize the unique nature of Fireworks and keep it around and develop it further. Fireworks really should have a future and deserves better recognition than what it got under Macromedia’s inept marketing efforts on its behalf…