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Software Review:Macromedia Fireworks Part 3

How Usable is Fireworks? I chalk this ease of use up to Fireworks' object orientation and "live effects". Very simply, every part of a graphic, from text to image maps, is fully editable and can have appropriate effects applied at any time. The effects follow changes in the underlying object automatically. For instance, when you add drop shadows to text and decide to change the font or text size -- or any of the shadow parameters themselves -- the shadows are updated live in real time. This is some of the reason for the relatively high minimum system requirements, but it's also very good for instant feedback on what's going on. There's never a question of what the final product will look like. As long as you have access to the various objects in the graphic being edited, you'll have full control over them at any time. This generally holds for Photoshop and Freehand graphics, but not for finished GIFs or JPGs such as those found on the Web. You can import those and apply effects (or add textual or graphic elements) to them on an all-or-nothing basis, though, and it accepts many Photoshop plugins. The slice export feature is worth mentioning. You simply select an area of interest in an image, and Fireworks will generate a series of "cuts" (interactively visible) to slice up the entire image into separate segments. These segments could be loaded selectively, and exported/optimized individually, even as different formats. For instance, a particular image might benefit, compression-wise, from having its background exported as GIF and its photo-quality foreground exported as JPEG. And that area of interest you selected? Fireworks will generate JavaScript rollover code to swap it out for a different version, possibly one with different opacity or effects. There are literally hundreds of combinations of things you can do to spice up your text or graphics with Fireworks. I whipped up these samples in just a few minutes, and don't laugh, I'm a programmer by training :-)


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