And occasionally some folks say they prefer the earlier, simpler versions over newer ones with more features. The challenge is, once a new release comes out, Adobe no longer officially sells the older version with one exception. So if you need a prior release, what do you do? But how about when you want to actually buy CS4 or CS5? So, do you turn to other random sources like eBay or Craigslist? So what do you do?
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It is apparent Adobe has been listening to users and has spent considerable resources overhauling Fireworks. With the adoption of the common interface shared by other Creative Suite applications, and the addition of new tools and enhanced features, Fireworks no longer feels like the forgotten child. The new workspace switcher is a pop-up menu conveniently located at the top of the canvas that allows you to switch between the three default preset workspace layouts: Your new custom layout will be added to the workspace presets.
The new Smart Guides and Tooltips make precisely placing or aligning objects on the canvas a snap. With Smart Guides enabled, Fireworks displays dynamic snapping vertical and horizontal guides that appear as you drag objects on the canvas.
Fireworks dynamically displays the distance between the guides and the distance of the selected guide from the edge of the canvas. This feature allows you to enter the distance you want between selected objects.
For example, if I have three objects selected and I want them spaced exactly 15 pixels apart, all I have to do is enter the value and click the appropriate Distribute button in the new Space control in the Align panel. The new and improved Property inspector is located at the bottom of the workspace.
The Inspector contains two tabs by default: Properties and Symbol Properties. Being able to toggle between these two panels when you are working with component symbols from the Common Library panel is very convenient.
New and enhanced panels and tools The Color Mixer panel has been replaced with the Color Palette panel. This new panel makes selecting and mixing colors both easy and fun. The panel contains controls for three tools: Selector, Mixers, and Blender. The Mixer, introduced in CS3, has been updated with a cleaner and easier-to-view display.
Generating a color palette and exporting it, as a bitmap or color table, has never been easier. Selecting colors from the Mixers color wheel, generating palettes, and exporting color palettes for future use is addictive. Learn more about macOS Catalina ] The Blender tool allows you to pick two colors and generate up to 36 blends of them. The panel opens in the upper left-hand corner of the workspace.
The location for opening the panel in the menu, and its position once opened, seem odd: It would have been more intuitive to place the Kuler menu item at the top level of the Window menu and to group the Kuler panel with the Color Palette panel. However, because Kuler is an extension rather than a built-in panel, the choices Adobe made about how and where to access it begin to make more sense, and you can always relocate the Kuler panel to any panel group you choose.
Once you find the panel you can search color combinations by theme, color, or author. You can save your search and even edit an active theme. A new addition to the Select tools in the Tools panel is the 9-Slice Scaling tool. This tool allows you to scale an object while preserving selected areas. For example, you can use this tool to scale the sides of a rectangle with rounded corners without also scaling the corners.
You could do this in the previous version, but first the object had to be converted to a Symbol. In CS4, the new 9-Slice Scaling tool allows you to scale an object without having to first convert it to a Symbol. Wrapping text around images was difficult in earlier versions of Fireworks. Designers had to divide text into multiple text boxes and place them around an image to give the appearance of wrapping. The improved Path panel displays tools in four groups: Both the Extrude and Blend Paths tools have been greatly improved.
You can apply these tools to either a path or a vector shape. The Extrude pop-up control panel is easier to use. There are individual fields for the different values: Distance, Angle, Taper, and Twist.
As you enter values in the fields you will see a live preview of the extrusion. Using the Blend tool you can select two vector objects or paths and then click the Blend button and enter the number of steps you want to blend between the two objects. In CS3, blends could only be used with paths. The Fisheye Paths tool allows you to distort a vector object by placing an ellipse over a deformed path—the ellipse is used to identify the area of the path that the Fisheye command affects.
In previous versions of Fireworks you had to release the mouse button before you could see the changes. You can generate custom palettes in the Mixers section of the Color Palette panel. The Styles panel has been updated to include a large collection of new styles organized by themes like Chrome, Old Paper, Pastels, and more. When you first open the panel, a Style Library called Current Document is displayed. If no styles have been used yet, the panel is empty. You add a style by clicking the drop down menu and selecting a theme.
Every time you use a style it is added to the Current Document Styles. The new Live Styles feature is located in the Property Inspector. As you apply styles, they are added to the Styles drop down list. Below the drop down menu are a series of icons that allow you to create a new style, redefine a style, clear overrides, break a link to a style, and delete a style. Using CSS makes it easier to deliver content to different devices, platforms, and browsers.
You can choose to include links to external style sheets in your Web pages or have the styles included in the page code. You can also use password protection to assign access privileges to the file for viewing, printing, copying, and adding comments. Recognizing the need for timely collaboration between designers and clients, Adobe has made the Adobe ConnectNow online service accessible from within Fireworks CS4.
Adobe ConnectNow allows you to log into the service and share your screen among three users at remote sites. The new interface is makes it easier to use most tools and controls as well as switch among various Creative Suite products.
Overall, I found this release to be stable and responsive. While I sometimes had to try new features more than once to make them work, I generally found the program intuitive. My only frustration was with locating some new features such as the Kuler panel.
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