First Look: Fireworks 8

Since its introduction seven years ago Fireworks has focused on being the premiere application for Web graphics. While most of the attention in the release of Studio 8 has been focused on Dreamweaver and Flash, there are some interesting changes and enhancements to Fireworks, as well.

With more Web sites being created using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), developers have used a variety of tools to create CSS-driven navigation menus. While many of the tools – including hand coding the CSS – fulfilled the basic needs of designers, Fireworks now gives you a way to create the menus and export the CSS from within the application.

To build a CSS pop-up menu in Fireworks, you select a hotspot or slice in your image and bring up the Pop-up Menu Editor, which acts like a wizard, guiding you through the process.

Building the menu is as easy as typing in the menu title, adding a URL and selecting the target behavior. The first dialog also gives you the option to choose the parent menu and then indenting the submenus under it. To add a menu into an established structure, simply select where you want the menu to go and click the plus-sign (+).

The appearance pane gives you choices on font and the overall appearance the menu will take. You can also choose whether the menu will be vertical or horizontal in this pane. The advanced pane is where you choose the cell width and height, as well as cell padding and border width.

The final pane is where you place the position of the menu and submenus. Fireworks allows you to position each individually on the X and Y axis.

Other new features

In addition to CSS pop-up menu creation, Fireworks has added support for more file formats including QuickTime Image, MacPaint, SGI, and JPEG 2000. Macromedia also optimized the batch processing workflow by streamlining file renaming, adding the ability to check file dimensions when scaling during a batch process, and the addition of a status bar and log file.

A new slicing option allows users to insert polygon slices when a selected object is a polygon path and Fireworks now recognizes ActionScript color values when copied from Flash and pasted into Fireworks color value fields.

Some other features include the ability to mock-up mobile interfaces; add a shadow to paths and text objects; automatically name layers by the text you type into them; use a new panel to insert special characters directly into text blocks; and turn active selections into editable vector paths (and do the reverse). Another change: recently used fonts now appear at the top of font menus.

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