Farewell to Fireworks

Ben Moss.
May 13, 2013
Farewell to Fireworks.

thumbnailLast week, Adobe announced that there will be no further development of their Fireworks application. Security updates will be provided and bug fixes may arrive, but for all intents and purposes Fireworks CS6 is a dead man walking. The petitions for clemency have already begun, but it seems likely that at some point Adobe's CEO will give the order to flick the switch and like a paper rocket on a rainy fourth of July, Fireworks will be no more.

Whilst many in the web design community bemoan Adobe's lack of foresight, there are others — myself included — that don't quite understand the fuss. It's just a piece of software, and a niche one at that, so what's the big deal?

It seems for a great number of designers, Fireworks is the only tool they're prepared to work with.

Here's a confession: I've installed Fireworks on my machine twice; once to try it out, around 8 years ago; and once to research this article. Both times it lasted less than a day before being uninstalled.

I've heard the arguments in favor of Fireworks before. We regularly have articles submitted to WebdesignerDepot that extoll the use of Fireworks over any other application. I've been told that any designer who doesn't use Fireworks is stuck in the past, too lazy to learn something new. The problem is, that none of these arguments have ever seemed to ring true:

I'm lead to believe that Fireworks exports sliced HTML better than Photoshop. The problem is, that the last time I allowed an application to code HTML for me it laid out the page in tables — and yes, that was standard at the time. We simply don't slice images any longer; responsive design, flat design, the mobile web, SEO; everything considered good practice by contemporary web designers is hampered by image slicing.

Fireworks exports CSS, but then so does Illustrator, and so do a number of other tools. I've never seen one that could write CSS as succinctly as I can, especially when SASS or LESS are taken into account.

The main use, and main argument of flag waving Fireworks supporters is that Fireworks is superb for rapid prototyping web page mockups. That may have been the case a few years ago, but how does one approach prototyping responsive design in Fireworks? Fireworks creates pictures of static websites, which makes it about as useful for mockups as…well…Photoshop. Admittedly, not all designers are fans of designing in the browser. But even for those who can't code, products like Typecast are far more advanced than Fireworks.

The current assumption is that Adobe will plunder Fireworks' features and attempt to crowbar them into Photoshop and Illustrator. However I find that unlikely; both Photoshop and Illustrator are distinctly different tools. It's unlikely that Adobe would compromise the premium raster and vector programs on the market in an attempt to win over former Fireworks devotees. It's more likely that Adobe sees the future of web mockups in the Edge line of tools. Animate and Reflow are available now in beta, and show a great deal of promise.

It's also important to recognise that Adobe are not comparing current versions of tools. Their development team has sat down and compared what they can do with Fireworks over the next decade, compared with what they can do with the likes of Reflow, and came to the conclusion that Fireworks will, sooner or later, be deadwood.

One thing that is interesting is that Adobe haven't also pruned Flash from their line up. The Flash platform still has its uses; AIR applications, mobile apps and gaming are all well suited, but they're better served by Flash Builder, it's difficult to see why Flash Professional dodged the bullet. Why would Adobe kill off an application that is at best loved and at worst ignored; whilst saving an application almost universally abhored?

The show of support for Fireworks from the community has reaffirmed our belief that Adobe should continue to deliver dedicated tools for web designers — what follows Fireworks CS6 will be an revolutionary leap, designed from the ground up with the needs of the modern web designer front and center. — Adobe's Web Platform and Authoring Team

For the time being Fireworks CS6 remains part of the Creative Cloud subscription. However, with its now inevitable decline, it's hard to see Fireworks as a realistic option for web design. Many will seek an alternative, and Adobe will be hoping that their new products will inspire the same loyalty that Fireworks users are now showing.

Has anyone not using Fireworks missed out? Is Fireworks still relevant for web design? Will you miss it? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, Fireworks image via Shutterstock.

Ben Moss

Ben Moss has designed and coded work for award-winning startups, and global names including IBM, UBS, and the FBI. When he’s not in front of a screen he’s probably out trail-running.

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