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  Fireworks 2

The greatest new feature in Fireworks 2 is the new Behaviors palette. In addition to simple JavaScript rollovers ,Fireworks 2 can create very impressive rollovers, where a mouse movement on one part of the screen can effect an event in a different area of the screen. For example, you can have the user click a button to swap out a static image for an animated GIF file. Behaviors can call external files, reference different frames in a multiframe composition, and display HTML status-line messages. In short, they let designers create an exceptionally interactive interface without writing JavaScript code manually.
Fireworks 2 allows designers to lock any color regardless of optimization or palette selection. By locking a color, a designer will never have to worry about losing that color when the graphic is optimized for the Web. This feature is especially important when mixing different graphic formats side by side or matching to a specific background.

Onion Skinning allows the designer to take control of animations by showing the precise position of the graphics in an animation. With onion skinning you can set up your environment to see a transparent image of objects on other frames of the animation. Fireworks 2 also lets you create and preview your GIF animation quickly. Fireworks 2 lets designers view their animations as they are created in the workspace using VCR style controls.

Of course, the best features of Fireworks are it's 'Slicing', 'Optimizing of Exports' and it's integration with your favorite HTML Editor. Although built to fully integrate with Dreamweaver, I found that it does well with Frontpage as well. Although Frontpage did rearrange some coding a bit, it was a satisfactory result. Again, this is a Frontpage issue, not Fireworks.

With the slicing features in Fireworks 2, designers can create a slice object by dragging out the area they want to slice. Each slice appears in the object inspector where object links, file names, and optimization settings can be set individually.

Fireworks can export images using a mix of compression types. For example, use JPEG for photographic areas of the image and GIF for parts with text and flat areas of color. Easily add rollovers into any sliced image using the behaviors palette to assign an action to the slice.

Create rollovers in Fireworks without writing any code. Fireworks automatically creates the JavaScript. Swap image behaviors created in Fireworks are recognized as native Dreamweaver behaviors. It's as simple as using the slice tool to define the area and using the behavior panel to create the action.

The visual point and click user interface makes selecting the target area automatic for these sophisticated rollovers. Creating the HTML couldn't be easier.

Simple rollover
Roll over one slice and swap in an image of another slice.
Disjointed rollovers
Roll over one area of a graphic and a targeted area in another place in the graphic will change.
External source rollovers
A Fireworks 2 rollover can target an external source, even an animation.
Hotspot rollovers
Don't be constrained to the rectangular shape of an image. You can target any irregularly shaped area of your graphic to trigger a rollover. A hotspot rollover is perfect for creating precise rollovers.
I have only touched on some of the best features of Fireworks 2. It's drawing tools for both vector and bitmap images are excellent as well. Also new to Version 2 is the ability to scan into it or import from your digital camera.

Although, similar in looks(with the exception of the new floating palettes), this version has enough new features in it that it could almost be considered a whole new package - let alone a new version. If you have been a little disappointed in Fireworks 1, I recommend giving Fireworks another chance. The new enhancements are enough to make you a believer that Macromedia is very serious about Fireworks.

Cost Value: - At about $200.00 US street value, the program is a great deal for professional designers.
If you haven't already purchased Dreamweaver 2, you can pick up the great combination package of Dreamweaver2/Fireworks 2 for about $399.00 us or less. This would be the way to go to get more bang for your bucks.

Manual: - Again as in previous releases from Macromedia, the manual is adequate at best. It does cover the basics, but if you are serious about the product you will likely want to pick up an extra book on it or frequent the many Macromedia newsgroups.
I find the newsgroups to be the best and easiest way to learn many of Macromedia's products.

Overall Comments: - If it is Web Graphics and Interactivity that you want - it's Macromedia Fireworks that you need.
Although, I would not use Fireworks exclusively for graphics if you have Adobe Photoshop, it is a great companion program to it. If you are just starting out in Web Design or are on a limited budget - fireworks can be used for all of your graphic needs as a stand alone.

Review ID Number: 343
  Product Details
Review Date: 2001-04-20
Reviewer: Brad Lawryk
Rating: 10 out of 10
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