Monday, January 23, 2006

Add Fireworks To Your Website

Greetings everyone, this is just another review on mine that was selected as review of the month on several sites and read by thousands. It is about Fireworks MX although Fireworks 8 is out now. Enjoy.....

Fireworks MX is Macromedia’s image editing package. If you are unfamiliar with Macromedia, they happen to be a software developer company like Microsoft but however majors more in content editing packages. Some of their other major products include Flash, Freehand and Dreamweaver.

Macromedia Fireworks MX 2004 is the latest version of Fireworks designing program. It has improved tremendously with amazing add-ons and new user friendly features from Fireworks 4 but has not much difference with the MX version.

Macromedia says:
“Fireworks MX 2004 lets users import files from all major graphics formats and manipulate both vector and bitmap images to quickly create graphics and interactivity. Images can be easily exported to Dreamweaver, Flash and third-party applications.�

I have been using Fireworks for my image editing for years now and have always upgraded it when the new packages arrive and MX is the best so far.

I prefer Fireworks Image Editing to Corel Draw or Adobe Photoshop because of its simplicity and user friendly layout. It is great software for designing web graphics like background, banners, animated gifs and icons. I personally used them for all my web designing needs, the graphic site that is.

Creating animated .gifs with Fireworks could have never been easier. One may choose the amount of frames and loops per second and preview it before exporting it as an animated file. Although many programs do offer you similar functions but I find this one the easiest.

Fireworks is able to open Photoshop (.psd) files and edit them and besides that has a great integration with other Macromedia packages like Flash, Freehand, Dreamweaver and Director. You may import and export files with other packages running simultaneously. For example, an image that is being created in Fireworks can be exported to Flash and further editing can be carried on the image in Flash.

At times, I can be very lazy while designing a site and do it all in fireworks and save it as an html page. Fireworks will automatically turn it into a single HTML page that features a huge image file of what I have created earlier as the website. This is a quick way to get away with designing a site in minutes but it is not a good practice. The site that has just been created is just a huge image with the dimensions that fit a screen. This is not user friendly to some visually impaired person and can take quite a while to load under dial up internet connections. However, Fireworks do allow you to add HTML codes and Javascripts before exporting it as a HTML document.

What’s New?

Well, there are a list of new features in this version but I will only cover a few main features.

1. Start Page
This is a new window that will open every time you start Fireworks. It gives you the option to access the program immediately or use the available tutorials to learn about the software. If you do not like the start page, just change the setting to not see it when you start the program.

2. Auto Shapes
This is one brilliant new addition of other shapes to the program. Users can now create primitive shape that will correspond smartly to the mouse movement instructions in transforming. My favorite shape is the spiral and other shapes like Square, Circle, Donut and star are available.

3. Send As E-mail
You may immediately with a click of a button send your creations as an attachment in your favorite e-mail program.

4. Save in Original Format
Besides being able to read a wide range of files, Fireworks now allow you to save it into its own original format after editing.

Quick Tip: Exporting an Image

Use the Export Wizard function that will chose the best format that you image should be saved as by asking you a series of question. It will end up opening a preview window of the saved image if you are unhappy with the result, you can switch through other formats and see the results in real time. This is a great tool as it even shows the time the image will take to load on screen from a website.

Ease of Use

Depending on your proficiency dealing with image editing packages, you may find it hard at the beginning dealing with Fireworks but the more practice you have on it, you will get use to its interface and settings. I have been using lots of image editing software and Fireworks has almost the same layout as any image editing suite with the main toolbar on the left and the frames/layers tool on the right. Among all the other packages like Photoshop or CorelDraw, I find Fireworks the easiest to use and the best for creating images for the web.
System requirements
Before installing Fireworks, make sure your computer is equipped with the following hardware and software.
- Microsoft Windows
• 300MHz Intel Pentium II Processor
• Windows 98 SE, ME, 2000, or XP
• 64 MB of available RAM (128 MB recommended) plus 80 MB of available disk space
• 800 x 600 pixel resolution, 256-color display or better
• Adobe Type Manager Version 4 or later for use with Type 1 fonts
• CD-ROM drive
- Macintosh
• Power Macintosh G3 Processor, running OS X version 10.1.5 or later, or 10.2.6 or later
• 64 MB of available RAM (128 MB recommended) plus 80 MB of available disk space
• 800 x 600 pixel resolution, 256-color display or better
• CD-ROM drive
Installation

Depending on your computer, the installation of fireworks can be fairly quick. Just run the installation file and follow the on screen instruction.

Help Files

Fireworks come with a well compiled help file Click on the help or F1 key and a searchable library window will pop up and you will be able to put in keywords on the topic that you are facing problems with. Listings of answers will appear and you can click on the corresponding files to find the solutions.

First Time Users & Available Tutorials

Don’t worry, learning Fireworks is very easy and plus support is not far away. Instead of just the help file, there is a link to Macromedia online tutorials. You must be online to access these tutorials. It is very easy and even comes with diagrams. Fireworks also have a huge online community in the form of forums, user groups and websites that will be able to help you with learning the software.

There are also books available that may help you as well. Just do a search for them on Amazon or go to your computer section of your local bookstore and dummy guides for it should be available.


I have just created a quick tutorial for you to mess around with Fireworks MX which is as follow:

Creating Wallpapers with Fireworks MX by Benny Ong

A) Depending with the resolution of your screen or the wallpaper you wish to create, set the new image size in pixels to either with the background color of your choice.

i) 800 width x 600 height
ii) 1024 width x 768 height

B) Right click on the image and chose magnification followed by 50%. This will shrink your image to half the original size so that it will be viewable without the need of scrolling around. It makes your designing job much easier.

C) Either do your own designing by adding text or geometric shapes available from the left menu bar or straight away import images like photographs into it. Mess around it and place it in random order or how you wish to view it on your desktop.

D) When you are done, export the image as .gif if it contains lots of text or as .jpg if the image contains lots of pictures. You may chose to preview them in either format before saving them.

E) You are done! You have created a wallpaper and just click “Set as Desktop Background� if you are on Windows XP on the image to make it your wallpaper.

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Buying Options

Fireworks can be bought as an individual package or bundled together with Flash, Dreamweaver and Freehand in the Macromedia Studio Package. I would advise you to go ahead with the Macromedia Studio package if you are a professional webmaster or does a lot of web editing and interactive web designing. If you want a fairly high end graphics editing tool, then you should just go ahead with getting Fireworks MX by itself. This is because the other bundled software will be of less use.

Where to Buy?

The best way to obtain a copy of the software is online. You may choose to download it straight from the website or get it in the form of a CD. There are many online software vendors that are currently selling this package for different prices. It is also obtainable as an off the shelf product from leading computer stores such as PC world.

WARNING: Online Software Buyers Beware!

If you see a listing on an auction site or cheap software selling site, do check for its authenticity. There happen to be many pirated software or cracked versions circulating around. If it is from an auction, do ask clearly for the details from the seller before bidding. If it is a website that you are buying it from, do check for its reputation and guarantees offered.

Registration/Activation

Depending the package or license your bought software is, you may require filling in an optional quick online registration form. The information is just kept as a record by Macromedia. I did not register my software and it works just as fine.

Try It First!

Well, don’t just take my words for it! Download the 30 days trial version first at Macromedia.com and test it. Once installed, you will be able to use the full version software for 30 days and it will automatically expire if you do not upgrade it. You can easily upgrade it by just registering and paying for it online.

30 Days Money Back Guarantee

I just realized that Macromedia offers a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee for this software if it is purchased online from them. So, if you are unhappy with the program within 30 days, they will refund you the money you have paid in full. Please refer to the website for more details.

My Conclusions

This is the best image editing program made for webmasters. It is an all in one suite for webmasters to create, edit and optimize images for the web. The toolbars are easy to use and one can learn it quickly unlike programs such as Photoshop and Coreldraw that are much more complicated.

Useful Links

Macromedia Official Site: http://www.macromedia.com
Macromedia Online Tutorials: http://www.macromedia.com/go/learning_fireworks
Fireworks Page: http://www.macromedia.com/software/fireworks


I look forward in receiving constructive feedback and comments. If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in my guestbook and I will get back to you a.s.a.p.

I hope this helps.

Have A Nice Day!

Benny Ong

1 comment:

Tarax said...

Wow, Your blog is awesome. TaraX