Flash Catalyst Beta (aka Thermo) is out

1 Jun 2009 - 8:48am
5 years ago
17 replies
1009 reads
Pierre Roberge
2005

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcatalyst/

Pierre Roberge
Customer Experience Manager, etfs
#2193
819.566.2901
www.etfsinc.com

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Comments

1 Jun 2009 - 5:40pm
Murray Eaton
2009

FINALLY! It's annoying they didnt send the reminder I signed up for
though. Luckily I had a beta versio already from a conference so have
been playing for a while. Not sure yet if it matches Expression for
functionailty, but Ive been using Flex since the alpha's so its
definitely a step forward!

Thanks for the notice

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Jun 2009 - 12:19pm
Nasir Barday
2006

I was as giddy as a schoolgirl for Catalyst. But as of this Beta, it doesn't
open Fireworks CS4 files natively! Only Illustrator and Photoshop files. I
would have thought that Fireworks, a tool positioned for prototyping (and
even with some teasers of Flex integration, and mapped to Catalyst's concept
of States!) would have a stronger relationship with a tool dedicated to
taking prototypes to the next step. Actually, I always wondered why Catalyst
wasn't conceived as a feature of Fireworks, since FW already supports
importing Illustrator and Photoshop files. But that's a discussion for
another day.

For now, Catalyst seems only to open Fireworks PNGs as flattened files
(you'll only see the first page of a Fireworks CS4 file). You can do a
one-way export into the new FXG format from Fireworks CS4, but it doesn't
look like you can round-trip between Catalyst and Fireworks, which was what
made these two products powerful, in my mind. You can import assets from
Fireworks individually and edit them in place (well, if you go through
Illustrator...), but this wastes a lot of time if you've already laid out a
full design in Fireworks and want to continue cranking out mockups as the
product evolves. And as we all know, the design WILL change as soon as you
play with it as an interactive prototype. I wonder why this fundamental
insight wasn't baked in from the beginning.

To be clear, I want to be as constructive and snark-free as possible with
this post-- Adobe sponsored the Interaction conference this year, and they
even made a good-faith effort to set up a Catalyst demo there as a free
workshop. It didn't work out in the end due to an illness, but many of took
home pre-release versions of Catalyst! If any of you Adobe folks are
following this discussion, I would be curious to know if native
round-tripping with Fireworks is planned for Catalyst. Not sure why you
wouldn't do this, as Fireworks's layout (and philosophy) has such a natural
mapping to Catalyst's world.

- Nasir

2 Jun 2009 - 4:58pm
Guillermo Torres
2009

Nasir,

The roundtrip workflow with FW won't work until CS5. I know, we really feel your pain.

Here is a couple of ways in which you can use FW with FC:

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcatalyst/tutorials/fw/

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashcatalyst/tutorials/fwexport/

And please be as snarky and opinionated as possible. You can post your concerns in the forums and everyone in the product team will read it.

http://forums.adobe.com/community/labs/flashcatalyst

2 Jun 2009 - 11:25pm
Elizabeth Bacon
2003

The IxDA SF event was held at Adobe (an excellent meeting venue and
generous spread) and the evening concluded with a lengthy Catalyst
demo from a key guy on their team. I'm spacing his name but he's in
one of their online demo vids as well. Anyways, afterwards, I
corralled him and said what was up with their delayed Fireworks
integration. He said that the Fireworks workflow was not going to be
as integrated as Photoshop and Illustrator. (I didn't press for
specifics but maybe it's in that round-trip?) Naturally, I protested
loudly. To no avail. :)

My guess is that its origin as a Macromedia product has either spelled
its demise politically within Adobe (the lead Fireworks guy, Alan
Musselman, has left the company) or else technically in terms of its
code base being too different from Photoshop & Illustrator. An
*extremely* unfortunate state of affairs; IMO, there is no better
interaction design tool for documenting production-ready GUIs than
Fireworks (for static images)...or, well, at least that was true
before CS4.

Cheers,
Liz

On Jun 2, 2009, at 10:19 AM, Nasir Barday wrote:

> I was as giddy as a schoolgirl for Catalyst. But as of this Beta, it
> doesn't
> open Fireworks CS4 files natively! Only Illustrator and Photoshop
> files. I
> would have thought that Fireworks, a tool positioned for prototyping
> (and
> even with some teasers of Flex integration, and mapped to Catalyst's
> concept
> of States!) would have a stronger relationship with a tool dedicated
> to
> taking prototypes to the next step. Actually, I always wondered why
> Catalyst
> wasn't conceived as a feature of Fireworks, since FW already supports
> importing Illustrator and Photoshop files. But that's a discussion for
> another day.
>
> For now, Catalyst seems only to open Fireworks PNGs as flattened files
> (you'll only see the first page of a Fireworks CS4 file). You can do a
> one-way export into the new FXG format from Fireworks CS4, but it
> doesn't
> look like you can round-trip between Catalyst and Fireworks, which
> was what
> made these two products powerful, in my mind. You can import assets
> from
> Fireworks individually and edit them in place (well, if you go through
> Illustrator...), but this wastes a lot of time if you've already
> laid out a
> full design in Fireworks and want to continue cranking out mockups
> as the
> product evolves. And as we all know, the design WILL change as soon
> as you
> play with it as an interactive prototype. I wonder why this
> fundamental
> insight wasn't baked in from the beginning.
>
> To be clear, I want to be as constructive and snark-free as possible
> with
> this post-- Adobe sponsored the Interaction conference this year,
> and they
> even made a good-faith effort to set up a Catalyst demo there as a
> free
> workshop. It didn't work out in the end due to an illness, but many
> of took
> home pre-release versions of Catalyst! If any of you Adobe folks are
> following this discussion, I would be curious to know if native
> round-tripping with Fireworks is planned for Catalyst. Not sure why
> you
> wouldn't do this, as Fireworks's layout (and philosophy) has such a
> natural
> mapping to Catalyst's world.
>
> - Nasir
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

2 Jun 2009 - 3:44pm
Michael Sparandara
2008

Looks like no Fireworks workflow integration until CS5 :(

http://forums.adobe.com/message/2007624#2007624

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Jun 2009 - 1:09pm
Michael Sparandara
2008

I totally agree with Nasir's sentiments -- in fact, I started a
thread on the Adobe forums yesterday about this. I'm hoping that
through one of these channels an official Adobe spokesperson will
comment on the situation.

Adobe thread here: http://forums.adobe.com/message/2005801

- Mike

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42482

3 Jun 2009 - 12:58am
Nasir Barday
2006

Well, that just takes the wind outta my SAILS. Is there a way we can salvage
this and start using it? What if we start trying to do use this as primary
documentation, where it's appropriate? I'm going to start this week and
report back. There are lots of places where it's important to show
transitions that flat screenshots just can't convey (easil), where an
interactive prototype fits the bill. Dave Malouf has been saying this, like,
forever.

On our conversation about this on Twitter, he said that in a similar
scenario with MS Expression (no integration with Visio), he found that this
lack of round-tripping didn't matter in the end. Which makes me say, why not
take a risk and start prototyping in Catalyst? If I'm going to do that
longer term, though, we're gonna need some better drawing tools in there--
an Alignment and Spacing panel, for one, and tool behavior that more
comprehensively matches Fireworks, or, hell, any other Adobe app.

On that note, I wonder how much longer we need to wait until Fireworks CS5?
Less than a year [1]? A boy can dream, can't he?

- Nasir

[1] I'm conveniently forgetting how recently CS4 came out. Try and not break
it to me; it might break my heart ;-).

3 Jun 2009 - 10:12am
Stew Dean
2007

Hi Nasir and folks,
You slightly dash my hopes as Catalyst being a one stop solution to
producing diagrams and interactive prototypes. From what I've seen the idea
of producing just an interactive prototype and then having that used to
build a real world version of the app has problems that documentation of the
flat kind often solves. I've not got around to using Axure in anger so was
hoping this would be the next logical port of call. I've looked at
expression and it appears to have a different cultural approach to
interactive design than I'm used to.

I'm looking for a mix and match approach that can be flexible for different
kinds of audiences and interactivity type. Do you and others feel it may be
expecting too much to able to create sitemaps, process flows and working
prototypes in one place and one online document?

Stewart Dean

2009/6/3 Nasir Barday <nbarday+ixda at gmail.com <nbarday%2Bixda at gmail.com>>

On our conversation about this on Twitter, he said that in a similar
> scenario with MS Expression (no integration with Visio), he found that this
> lack of round-tripping didn't matter in the end. Which makes me say, why
> not
> take a risk and start prototyping in Catalyst? If I'm going to do that
> longer term, though, we're gonna need some better drawing tools in there--
> an Alignment and Spacing panel, for one, and tool behavior that more
> comprehensively matches Fireworks, or, hell, any other Adobe app.
>
> On that note, I wonder how much longer we need to wait until Fireworks CS5?
> Less than a year [1]? A boy can dream, can't he?
>
> - Nasir
>

--
Stewart Dean

3 Jun 2009 - 10:49am
aschechterman
2004

Stewart, Axure, iRise, FlairBuilder + Graffle/Visio, etc. etc. . . . all
potential options, though much agreed, no single 360-degree tool for UX
folks yet. My colleagues in classical architecture and urban planning, both
industries older than ours, tell me that, in their opinion, there is no such
tool (or suite) for their work, either. Hmm. - Andrew
On Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 9:12 AM, Stewart Dean <stewdean at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Nasir and folks,
> You slightly dash my hopes as Catalyst being a one stop solution to
> producing diagrams and interactive prototypes. From what I've seen the idea
> of producing just an interactive prototype and then having that used to
> build a real world version of the app has problems that documentation of
> the
> flat kind often solves. I've not got around to using Axure in anger so was
> hoping this would be the next logical port of call. I've looked at
> expression and it appears to have a different cultural approach to
> interactive design than I'm used to.
>
> I'm looking for a mix and match approach that can be flexible for
> different
> kinds of audiences and interactivity type. Do you and others feel it may be
> expecting too much to able to create sitemaps, process flows and working
> prototypes in one place and one online document?
>
> Stewart Dean
>
>
>
>
>
> 2009/6/3 Nasir Barday <nbarday+ixda at gmail.com <nbarday%2Bixda at gmail.com> <
> nbarday%2Bixda at gmail.com <nbarday%252Bixda at gmail.com>>>
>
> On our conversation about this on Twitter, he said that in a similar
> > scenario with MS Expression (no integration with Visio), he found that
> this
> > lack of round-tripping didn't matter in the end. Which makes me say, why
> > not
> > take a risk and start prototyping in Catalyst? If I'm going to do that
> > longer term, though, we're gonna need some better drawing tools in
> there--
> > an Alignment and Spacing panel, for one, and tool behavior that more
> > comprehensively matches Fireworks, or, hell, any other Adobe app.
> >
> > On that note, I wonder how much longer we need to wait until Fireworks
> CS5?
> > Less than a year [1]? A boy can dream, can't he?
> >
> > - Nasir
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Stewart Dean
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

3 Jun 2009 - 11:00am
Nasir Barday
2006

Architecture and urban planning are older than Interaction Design, sure. But
they are also working in different mediums :-). What's frustrating is that
this type of tool *could* exist, but Adobe is choosing to dig in its heels.
Who knows, maybe it's because they want to take it slow and do it right
(thus the wait until CS5). As we all know, it's hard to get a second chance
once you've released an inferior product. I wouldn't feel so bad if I had
known I'd have to wait for another Creative Suite era to pass after the
Catalyst Beta to get the tool I want.

Stewart: My kingdom for a tool "to create sitemaps, process flows and
working prototypes in one place." :-)

That's the dream, anyway, right?

Hm, is this really Adobe's exclusive domain? I wonder if we could put
together an open source project that could do what we want here. I mean, for
now it could open Fireworks files like we want and let us add interactions.
Perhaps eventually it could grow to become a one-stop shop. Then again,
maybe it's too much work to do for free ...

- Nasir

3 Jun 2009 - 11:48am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Jun 3, 2009, at 11:49 AM, Andrew Schechterman wrote:

> Stewart, Axure, iRise, FlairBuilder + Graffle/Visio, etc. etc. . . .
> all potential options, though much agreed, no single 360-degree tool
> for UX folks yet. My colleagues in classical architecture and urban
> planning, both industries older than ours, tell me that, in their
> opinion, there is no such tool (or suite) for their work, either.
> Hmm. - Andrew

I'm going to go out on a limb and say there never will be a one-size
fits all tool. I do look forward to a more proper prototyping tool.
All of our prototyping is hand-coded XHTML/CSS/JavaScript (relying on
a JS library like Prototype, jQuery, or YUI). But I don't expect that
to be typical, as it does require a decent level of technical prowess.
However, tools that make it easier are a welcome addition in my book.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Principal Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
Twitter: zakiwarfel
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

3 Jun 2009 - 12:29pm
Krystal Higgins
2008

I find myself agreeing with Todd. I also think if we could develop 1
single tool that could do it all, and do if effortlessly or
seamlessly, is the day we have to change our jobs ;) Of course,
given that all technology in the past has never really 100%
simplified our lives (think of the first release of the vacuum
cleaner, or even vacuuming to-date), this day may never come.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=42482

3 Jun 2009 - 12:55pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

So I'm genuinely curious... why do some folks prefer Fireworks over
Photoshop? I ask this knowing most of the answers I think, but I want
to see or hear more opinions about aspects of certain features to get
a better understanding of what specifically makes Fireworks compelling
for some over Photoshop.

To reveal my bias early, I've always disliked Fireworks for two very
specific reasons: I hate the way it handled type, and there were layer/
grouping flaws it had that drove me bonkers. I'm not even going to
claim Photoshop or Illustrator's handling of type is remotely correct
for screen display design, but they both have print legacies that
always get in the way, but having used them for so long, it was always
the devil you know versus the devil you don't for me personally in
this regard. I also know Photoshop's handling of object art is less
than stellar, but Fireworks still had layer and grouping flaws
Fireworks for so long that drove me nuts, I simply could never get
past them for day to day grunt work.

It appears most of the things I disliked about Fireworks have been
finally fixed in CS4. Only problem now? Well... I've been largely
quiet with regard to CS4 but I'll say it openly now that I seriously
want to throttle the dev and design team over Adobe for completely
effing up the framework interface. And since they bought the farm on
making it across the board, Fireworks now shares the same buggy
redraw, crappy windowing and inelegant docking and palette layout
behaviors that are plaguing the entire creative suite now. So my
chance to finally give Fireworks a real run after they fixed my core
problems that were getting my way is going to have to wait until the
CS team gets on the ball and brings the quality back online to what it
used be for Adobe.

In the meantime though... I've been wanting to be convinced that
Fireworks wasn't just another Denaba Canvas or Studio/8 wannabe. So...
if you have a moment to share, I'd love to hear more on the whole
Photoshop+Illustrator versus Fireworks thing.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

3 Jun 2009 - 1:23pm
Nasir Barday
2006

Sho 'nuff.

First, on the whole "one tool for all" thing, I don't see a
sketch/design-->prototype-->refine-->prototype tool as an "all in one." Far
from it. Rather, it's something that would make my own workflow more
efficient as changes come down the pike. I manage several products over
years of evolution, and it would be nice to be able to keep all the
deliverables together.

Back to answering your question, Andrei, the main reason Fireworks sells me
is the organization by Page. I can create multiple pages or states, share
elements between them, and quickly flip back and forth with my PgUp/Down
keys. If I want to change a common widget, I can tweak its look, its
relative position with everything else, and it updates *everywhere*. No
tweaking the position of a smart object in every place it shows. Also,
Fireworks allows me to combine vectors and bitmaps while still staying
pixel-accurate. Oh, and the 9-slice scaling, is a Godsend, albeit buggy.

And yes, the type management in CS3 is the sux0r. But apparently CS4 has a
smarter, sexier type engine (I want to say it's a drop-in of Adobe Type
Manager).

I suppose if Photoshop got some Paging love with vector tools, or InDesign
let me design for a pixel-based canvas, or Illustrator let me draw/paste
bitmaps (and also did Paging, natch), I'd be set.

At this point I'm so frustrated with how little the tool makers get the
needs of IxDs (for God's sakes, people, we design for more than the web!)
that I think it's time to move to the Valley, set up a house with a garage,
recruit some skilled day labor at Stanford, and just put my own together. Or
open source it. I haven't decided.

Cheers,
- Nasir

3 Jun 2009 - 1:34pm
David Drucker
2008

I've been using Fireworks since the first version and always preferred
it over Photoshop for several reasons:

1) Most UI work involves moving around objects, whether they are
buttons, fields, labels, blocks of text or other graphic elements.
Fireworks is essentially a vector environment with some bitmap tools,
which is pretty much the reverse of Photoshop. This means that if you
are working with a design, doing iterations, and someone suggests a
button be moved or a field expanded, in Photoshop it often meant some
bitmap editing, unless you want hog-wild with a layer for every single
solitary element.

2) Fireworks integrates web tools, such as slicing and image-map tools
into the drawing environment. For instance, you can select a button,
and then choose 'Create Hot Spot', and it will size it perfectly to
size. This is really handy for creating complex, dense image maps for
prototyping. While things have gotten better in Photoshop, in earlier
versions, you would frequently find yourself re-doing source files, re-
exporting, and redoing image maps with a couple of tools rather than
just one.

3) Fireworks' native file format is PNG. That means that you can
circulate images to Business types who have no graphic software to
speak of, and they can still see your files. This has been a sometimes-
yes, sometimes-no situation with Photoshop over the years. PNG is a
nice file format to work with for a variety of reasons; it has built-
in lossless compression so files aren't huge when you are sending them
back and forth, it has transparency, and it supports as much colour as
you need (unlike GIF or JPEG which lose quality for either of those
reasons). Its a big win when you can say to a client that you are
always working with PNGs, so they can see things at every step of the
way, instead of flattened proxies.

4) There are several graphic effects, notably bevels and drop shadows,
that were helpful in UI design work (although they often have become a
bit overused, in my opinion), but the fact that they were, up until
recently, only non-destructive in Fireworks was a help. Again, these
also appear in Photoshop, but they are again, for each layer rather
than on an object by object basis. The ability to copy and paste
object styles while in the early design stages is a great way to see a
large set of elements in different colours and tones quickly.

5) Fireworks has more recently included a lot of the active guide
features that Omnigraffle had. These are a god-send for doing quick,
drag and drop UIs because alignment and centering is pretty much done
on-the fly.

6) For large, complex projects, Fireworks' Image and object style
libraries helped me make sure that colours, bevels, shadows, and other
elements were always consistent from drawing to drawing. The image
library can include an entire widget set, and their new 5-slice
resizing ensures that even if you make a button longer to accommodate
a longer string of text, the rounded corners don't become a different
scale or in the case of a bitmap, start to blur.

7) Fireworks provides a multi-page document format that lets you
generate clickable PDFs (or you can export a series of pages to a
series of JPEGs or GIFs, if necessary) so that you can delivery
prototypes easily. For web projects. I find that 90% of the
communication that I need to make about UI layouts and sequence can be
handled by these prototypes.

8) When working with Flash programmers, the ability to export my files
as swf files is nice too, as they can open them and animate them
without having to re-create anything.

I agree, however, that CS4 has made a mess of some things. When Adobe
took the tool from Macromedia, they completely ruined the text
handling (and there were horrendous bugs that had me literally
screaming when I opened files and found text moved around (and
sometimes unfixable). I also agree that the Adobe Palette UI is
idiosyncratic and the windowing and docking is really annoying. That
said, the alignment tools have been so helpful, that I can't see
myself going back, especially since they sent out a set of patches to
address the text mess.

I remember Deneba Canvas (as well as Superpaint - remember that?).
Don't know about Studio/8, but as far as I can tell, if Adobe keeps
Fireworks as more of a Web prototyping tool (and, I suppose, an Adobe
Air and Flex prototyping tool), I think it will do well.

--
David Drucker
ddrucker at mac.com
Vancouver, BC

On 3-Jun-09, at 10:55 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> So I'm genuinely curious... why do some folks prefer Fireworks over
> Photoshop? I ask this knowing most of the answers I think, but I
> want to see or hear more opinions about aspects of certain features
> to get a better understanding of what specifically makes Fireworks
> compelling for some over Photoshop.
>
> To reveal my bias early, I've always disliked Fireworks for two very
> specific reasons: I hate the way it handled type, and there were
> layer/grouping flaws it had that drove me bonkers. I'm not even
> going to claim Photoshop or Illustrator's handling of type is
> remotely correct for screen display design, but they both have print
> legacies that always get in the way, but having used them for so
> long, it was always the devil you know versus the devil you don't
> for me personally in this regard. I also know Photoshop's handling
> of object art is less than stellar, but Fireworks still had layer
> and grouping flaws Fireworks for so long that drove me nuts, I
> simply could never get past them for day to day grunt work.
>
> It appears most of the things I disliked about Fireworks have been
> finally fixed in CS4. Only problem now? Well... I've been largely
> quiet with regard to CS4 but I'll say it openly now that I seriously
> want to throttle the dev and design team over Adobe for completely
> effing up the framework interface. And since they bought the farm on
> making it across the board, Fireworks now shares the same buggy
> redraw, crappy windowing and inelegant docking and palette layout
> behaviors that are plaguing the entire creative suite now. So my
> chance to finally give Fireworks a real run after they fixed my core
> problems that were getting my way is going to have to wait until the
> CS team gets on the ball and brings the quality back online to what
> it used be for Adobe.
>
> In the meantime though... I've been wanting to be convinced that
> Fireworks wasn't just another Denaba Canvas or Studio/8 wannabe.
> So... if you have a moment to share, I'd love to hear more on the
> whole Photoshop+Illustrator versus Fireworks thing.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

3 Jun 2009 - 2:02pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jun 3, 2009, at 11:34 AM, David Drucker wrote:

> 1) Most UI work involves moving around objects, whether they are
> buttons, fields, labels, blocks of text or other graphic elements.
> Fireworks is essentially a vector environment with some bitmap
> tools, which is pretty much the reverse of Photoshop. This means
> that if you are working with a design, doing iterations, and someone
> suggests a button be moved or a field expanded, in Photoshop it
> often meant some bitmap editing, unless you want hog-wild with a
> layer for every single solitary element.

Can you be more specific? Making a button longer or a field wider
requires editing no matter what, they are just different approaches
when you need to do the editing. Also, if you group things into
folders, you get an object-like behavior in Photoshop, with regard to
the major transformation tools.

> 3) Fireworks' native file format is PNG. That means that you can
> circulate images to Business types who have no graphic software to
> speak of, and they can still see your files. This has been a
> sometimes-yes, sometimes-no situation with Photoshop over the years.
> PNG is a nice file format to work with for a variety of reasons; it
> has built-in lossless compression so files aren't huge when you are
> sending them back and forth, it has transparency, and it supports as
> much colour as you need (unlike GIF or JPEG which lose quality for
> either of those reasons). Its a big win when you can say to a client
> that you are always working with PNGs, so they can see things at
> every step of the way, instead of flattened proxies.

What about file size in transport? Is that not a concern?

> 4) There are several graphic effects, notably bevels and drop
> shadows, that were helpful in UI design work (although they often
> have become a bit overused, in my opinion), but the fact that they
> were, up until recently, only non-destructive in Fireworks was a
> help. Again, these also appear in Photoshop, but they are again, for
> each layer rather than on an object by object basis. The ability to
> copy and paste object styles while in the early design stages is a
> great way to see a large set of elements in different colours and
> tones quickly.

I'd have to see more specific examples to see what you mean in
context. In Photoshop, you have to build up the effects to create
certain visual treatments so you actually want them to be non-group
specific, at least in my experience. That's how you arrive at subtlety
and richness on the visual side.

> 5) Fireworks has more recently included a lot of the active guide
> features that Omnigraffle had. These are a god-send for doing quick,
> drag and drop UIs because alignment and centering is pretty much
> done on-the fly.

Those active guides in Fireworks have been in Illustrator since 1997
(or was it 98?). I remember working with Martin Newell on implementing
the feature back then. I'm of two different mindsets with Smart
Guides... I absolutely love them at certain critical points, but
sometimes I find they get in my way too much. I had assumed the
Fireworks team grabbed the Smart Guides code from the Illustrator team
or used the feature from Illustrator as the basis for theirs, but I
could easily be wrong there. Smart Guides have gotten much better over
the past 12 years, but still need some major refinement on the
behavior side.

> 6) For large, complex projects, Fireworks' Image and object style
> libraries helped me make sure that colours, bevels, shadows, and
> other elements were always consistent from drawing to drawing. The
> image library can include an entire widget set, and their new 5-
> slice resizing ensures that even if you make a button longer to
> accommodate a longer string of text, the rounded corners don't
> become a different scale or in the case of a bitmap, start to blur.

This is the biggest reason I know why people love Fireworks, and I
have to agree it's the kind of thing that can make the choice a deal
breaker for some. I've never been fond of libraries only because I
find them too tedious to maintain over the long-haul of a project or
too limiting in making everything I do look cookie-cutter. But for
large amounts of grunt work, they are certainly a massive productivity
boost.

> 7) Fireworks provides a multi-page document format that lets you
> generate clickable PDFs (or you can export a series of pages to a
> series of JPEGs or GIFs, if necessary) so that you can delivery
> prototypes easily. For web projects. I find that 90% of the
> communication that I need to make about UI layouts and sequence can
> be handled by these prototypes.

This is the other big reason, as Nasir also stated. This was the
reason I tried many times in the past to use FW, but the type and
grouping issues always drove me away in the end.

> I remember Deneba Canvas (as well as Superpaint - remember that?).
> Don't know about Studio/8, but as far as I can tell, if Adobe keeps
> Fireworks as more of a Web prototyping tool (and, I suppose, an
> Adobe Air and Flex prototyping tool), I think it will do well.

This is the crux of the problem, and the reason why I asked the
question. I don't think the tool makers need to keep creating a "web"
tool. What the world needs now is a real robust *SCREEN DISPLAY*
design tool, one aimed at all the things digital and pixels to allow
you to do all that you need visually for the display, mixed with the
statefulness and random access behaviors that code requires to truly
design a professional grade interface for any software product,
regardless of medium; web, RIA, desktop, mobile.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

3 Jun 2009 - 2:46pm
David Drucker
2008

On 3-Jun-09, at 12:02 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Jun 3, 2009, at 11:34 AM, David Drucker wrote:
>
>> 1) Most UI work involves moving around objects, whether they are
>> buttons, fields, labels, blocks of text or other graphic elements.
>> Fireworks is essentially a vector environment with some bitmap
>> tools, which is pretty much the reverse of Photoshop. This means
>> that if you are working with a design, doing iterations, and
>> someone suggests a button be moved or a field expanded, in
>> Photoshop it often meant some bitmap editing, unless you want hog-
>> wild with a layer for every single solitary element.
>
> Can you be more specific? Making a button longer or a field wider
> requires editing no matter what, they are just different approaches
> when you need to do the editing. Also, if you group things into
> folders, you get an object-like behavior in Photoshop, with regard
> to the major transformation tools.

In the case of some objects, like buttons, labels or tables, the text
was a separate object from the object that contained it (or it was
'bound' to). As they sometimes say 'You're doing it wrong', and
perhaps this was the case for me with PS, but in FW, I could simply
edit a button name or label and in the case of a library object, it
stayed with the button (like grouping, I know). For table text, this
was a little trickier (Damn, there really needs to be some sort of
'table object' that you can add text to and format, etc. , but now
I'm getting into the realm of feature-request).

>
>> 3) Fireworks' native file format is PNG. That means that you can
>> circulate images to Business types who have no graphic software to
>> speak of, and they can still see your files. This has been a
>> sometimes-yes, sometimes-no situation with Photoshop over the
>> years. PNG is a nice file format to work with for a variety of
>> reasons; it has built-in lossless compression so files aren't huge
>> when you are sending them back and forth, it has transparency, and
>> it supports as much colour as you need (unlike GIF or JPEG which
>> lose quality for either of those reasons). Its a big win when you
>> can say to a client that you are always working with PNGs, so they
>> can see things at every step of the way, instead of flattened
>> proxies.
>
> What about file size in transport? Is that not a concern?

During development phases of a project, I've found that the average
size of a file (in KB/MB/GB) for PSD was almost always 1MB or larger
(I know, it depends on what you are working on - I am generalizing a
bit here, so that's always dangerous). This meant that file
attachments to email, FTP transfers, etc. all took longer with PSD
files. Fireworks, due to the built-in compression of PNG, seemed to be
on average, smaller. Also, it's worth noting that on the Mac, you
could see the PNG attachments inside the email, and more recently,
I've viewed them on my iPhone, both of which are a nice plus. Don't
remember if the current version of Photoshop does this (I must confess
that I'm not using CS4 of Photoshop, so my comparison here is slightly
out of date).

>
>> 4) There are several graphic effects, notably bevels and drop
>> shadows, that were helpful in UI design work (although they often
>> have become a bit overused, in my opinion), but the fact that they
>> were, up until recently, only non-destructive in Fireworks was a
>> help. Again, these also appear in Photoshop, but they are again,
>> for each layer rather than on an object by object basis. The
>> ability to copy and paste object styles while in the early design
>> stages is a great way to see a large set of elements in different
>> colours and tones quickly.
>
> I'd have to see more specific examples to see what you mean in
> context. In Photoshop, you have to build up the effects to create
> certain visual treatments so you actually want them to be non-group
> specific, at least in my experience. That's how you arrive at
> subtlety and richness on the visual side.

There's a set of non-destructive visual effects that you can build-up
(like the PS adjustment layers, I suppose) that can be copied and
pasted from one object to one or more others all at once, including
text and size, border style, colour, shadow, bevel - it's a large set
of attributes. It's fast and easy, and when you have it the way you
want, you can save it as a style swatch. As for slight variations
among different objects, yes, I guess Photoshop would be better for
that, but I guess I'm not after UIs that are that 'photographic' in
approach. In a case where I needed for something to be like that, I'd
defer to a Graphic Designer, since then it feels as if it's out of the
realm of UI design and more about aesthetics. I get the feeling we are
talking at cross-purposes here, and I'd need to see examples of what
you mean, too...
>
>> 5) Fireworks has more recently included a lot of the active guide
>> features that Omnigraffle had. These are a god-send for doing
>> quick, drag and drop UIs because alignment and centering is pretty
>> much done on-the fly.
>
> Those active guides in Fireworks have been in Illustrator since 1997
> (or was it 98?). I remember working with Martin Newell on
> implementing the feature back then. I'm of two different mindsets
> with Smart Guides... I absolutely love them at certain critical
> points, but sometimes I find they get in my way too much. I had
> assumed the Fireworks team grabbed the Smart Guides code from the
> Illustrator team or used the feature from Illustrator as the basis
> for theirs, but I could easily be wrong there. Smart Guides have
> gotten much better over the past 12 years, but still need some major
> refinement on the behavior side.

I agree. Omnigraffle, for me, is the king of Smart Guides, and I've
often used it's behavior to show developers some great ways of
thinking about the relationships of objects and how the computer can
work with the human. Fireworks, for me, is missing a key Smart Guide
behavior, which is the 'Equivalent Distance' indicator, when an object
is moved within range of 2 others in a straight line, so you you can
then see where to drop it so all three will now be distributed with
equal space between them. I haven't used Illustrator enough to really
put it's Smart Guides through its paces, but it's nice to know that
this technology is now fairly ubiquitous.

>
>> 6) For large, complex projects, Fireworks' Image and object style
>> libraries helped me make sure that colours, bevels, shadows, and
>> other elements were always consistent from drawing to drawing. The
>> image library can include an entire widget set, and their new 5-
>> slice resizing ensures that even if you make a button longer to
>> accommodate a longer string of text, the rounded corners don't
>> become a different scale or in the case of a bitmap, start to blur.
>
> This is the biggest reason I know why people love Fireworks, and I
> have to agree it's the kind of thing that can make the choice a deal
> breaker for some. I've never been fond of libraries only because I
> find them too tedious to maintain over the long-haul of a project or
> too limiting in making everything I do look cookie-cutter. But for
> large amounts of grunt work, they are certainly a massive
> productivity boost.

I think you've hit it on the head here: Fireworks is strongest when
you need standardization of elements. It's not a tool for the art in
a UI, but more for the spinning out of similar screens (or portions of
them) once you've got the style of the thing down. It sounds as if you
are more interested in the artistic elements of the process (and I
admire that), but unfortunately, most of the work I've had is more
about the workaday simplicity and usability of a UI, not it's richness.

>
>> 7) Fireworks provides a multi-page document format that lets you
>> generate clickable PDFs (or you can export a series of pages to a
>> series of JPEGs or GIFs, if necessary) so that you can delivery
>> prototypes easily. For web projects. I find that 90% of the
>> communication that I need to make about UI layouts and sequence can
>> be handled by these prototypes.
>
> This is the other big reason, as Nasir also stated. This was the
> reason I tried many times in the past to use FW, but the type and
> grouping issues always drove me away in the end.

Yeah, I guess it comes down to early formation of work habits. It's
that effect of getting comfortable with the first tool/OS/system that
you start with, like ducks to a 'mother duck' (heard something about
this being a real term somewhere).

>
>> I remember Deneba Canvas (as well as Superpaint - remember that?).
>> Don't know about Studio/8, but as far as I can tell, if Adobe keeps
>> Fireworks as more of a Web prototyping tool (and, I suppose, an
>> Adobe Air and Flex prototyping tool), I think it will do well.
>
> This is the crux of the problem, and the reason why I asked the
> question. I don't think the tool makers need to keep creating a
> "web" tool. What the world needs now is a real robust *SCREEN
> DISPLAY* design tool, one aimed at all the things digital and pixels
> to allow you to do all that you need visually for the display, mixed
> with the statefulness and random access behaviors that code requires
> to truly design a professional grade interface for any software
> product, regardless of medium; web, RIA, desktop, mobile.

Ah, to dream.

>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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