About two weeks ago, Jeremy Shulz published an "interesting" review of Fireworks on Designorati. I put "interesting" in quotes because I strongly disagree with many of his points… starting with the title of his review: "Fireworks CS3 Is Looking For its Niche".
I suppose I shouldn’t be but I’m always surprised when poeople who should know better still see Fireworks as a "niche" product. I can’t believe that after all these years, so many designers have still not seen how much of a creative powerhouse Fireworks really is and continue to try and minimize both its objective workflow strenghts as well as its impact in a large part of the Web design community.
I posted a comment to the review where I explain why I am in disagreement with it but you’ll find a copy of my comment below. If you agree with me, you should probably comment there as well. Those of us who "get" Fireworks should really make an effort to evangelize it and explain why it has become so important to our own creative workflows.
It’s nice to see Designorati talk about Fireworks and let me thank you for mentioning my article in your review. You have to be aware that I wrote that piece quite a while ago when the current version of Fireworks was MX 2004 and Photoshop was at version 7. That explains some of the points I was making about Photoshop.
Regarding your review, I don’t think you will be surprised to know that I disagree with many of your points, especially your insistence at positioning Fireworks as a “niche” product. I really could not disagree more with that statement.
I strongly believe that the main reason Fireworks has not been more widely adopted by designers for actual creative work at this point is the former Macromedia’s ineptitude at marketing it correctly. It’s certainly not Fireworks’ toolset or workflow that is lacking, especially not now with CS3. It’s not perfect, but it offers a an intuitive, flexible and powerful workflow that no other application I know of offers.
Fireworks has been my main creative tool for almost 10 years now. It has replaced Photoshop in a part of my process where I had always found Photoshop to be incredibly awkward for many of the reasons I stated in my article. Even with the improvements in Photoshop over the years which do include a lot of non-destructive editing features, I have always felt that Photoshop is a terrible design and layout tool by its very nature as a raster based editor. To me, any vector based application does a better job of any kind of layout than Photoshop as they are just much better suited to these kinds of tasks.
If Fireworks didn’t exist, I’d probably have switched my Web design workflow to Illustrator around the same time I discovered Fireworks. It’s just quicker and more flexible for me but it may just boil down to what we feel comfortable with as well as our design styles.
I do agree with you about Fireworks CS3’s lack of UI improvements though. I used to be a rabid fan of the Macromedia interface but I have used and loved Adobe software for even longer. What I love in the new CS3 UI is that I think it has successfully “melded” the best of both world in a way that is vastly superior to anything both Macromedia and Adobe have done before. To me this is especially true in InDesign and Illustrator.
Hopefully Fireworks will get the same treatment in CS4 and it may evenresult in more people adopting it for a lot more than a mere ImageReady“replacement” which in my view is almost an insult to Fireworks 😉