Fireworks CS6 mobile design focus forms linchpin of new strategy

By Chris McVeigh, Macworld |  Software, Adobe

Choosing Commands -> jQuery Mobile Theme -> Create New Theme opens a new theme document. The first page lets you define global assets and styles, and youre presented two sets of common navigational icons that you can customize. You can also specify the style for button labels, icon backgrounds, box shadows, and rounded corners by clicking an object and adjusting its properties. The subsequent five pages offer default swatches that you can tailor to your design by choosing fonts and tweaking the color of headers/footers, backgrounds, and buttons. Unfortunately, Fireworks does not disable properties that arent Web-friendly, so you have to be careful to avoid fonts and gradient types that arent supported by CSS.

A built-in theme preview lets you check out your theme at any time, though you must manually reload the preview after you make changes. The trouble is that you cannot preview the theme using your own sample content, which is disappointing given that the primary focus of this app is to construct Web mockups. In effect, this means youll need to rebuild the theme in a regular document in order to create a proper mockup for your client.

Moreover, jQuery Mobile offers a free Web-based editor called ThemeRoller, which handles theme customization with more finesse than Fireworks. Theme settings are configured on the left, colors can be dragged and dropped from the palette at the top, and all changes to a theme are displayed live in the center of the page. Once youre happy with what you see, you can download the theme for free. Fireworks multi-page template structure is awkward in comparison, though unlike ThemeRoller, you can make changes to the theme's default icon set (and add new icons) using Fireworks.

Old habits

Despite four major updates, Fireworks retains a good deal of interface artifacts from its days as a Macromedia Studio MX product. As a result, many aspects of the interface are inconsistent with other apps in the Adobe Creative Suite. Fireworks vector toolsoriginally derived from Macromedia Freehandcontinue to be markedly different than those in Illustrator.

Thats not always a bad thing; for example, gradient controls include a set of handles that allow you to quickly tweak the placement and angle of the fill, and you can edit the corners of a rounded rectangle or the points of a star at any time. However, these differences create an unnecessarily steep learning curve for new users migrating from Photoshop or Illustrator.

It simply doesnt make sense that products within the same application suite would have different tools to achieve the same end. Its been five years since Fireworks was officially integrated into the Creative Suite, and unfortunately, it still feels like a bit of an outsider.

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Originally published on Macworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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