With Adobe recently announcing their plans for Creative Cloud, a notable absentee from the list of apps they’re pushing was Fireworks. The web/screen design tool has long been rumoured to be dropped by Adobe and it has finally happened. Adobe will be doing no more updates (aside from bug fixing) beyond CS6. This leaves a pretty hefty gap in the market in my opinion.
I never really used Fireworks for any length of time, largely because it didn’t get on with my old MacBook Pro, it was laggy and unresponsive (and no, I’m not talking about resizing a browser window). That said, in principle I liked it. To me it was like a bridge between Illustrator and Photoshop, it had Illustrator’s superior selection method and it touched on Photoshops image editing capabilities. Photoshop is a great piece of software but it wasn’t built for web design and that is clear when you use it. Don’t get me wrong I’ve been using Photoshop for 15 years now and it does the job well, but it could be better. Unfortunately Photoshop is now so developed that unless they have a major interface change (which I don’t think they should, it is an image editing application after all), I really don’t see it getting much better from a web design point of view.
Alternatives To Fireworks
While Fireworks will continue to work as version CS6, it never really feels like a good move to be using an application that is no longer developed. Sooner or later it won’t work on the operating system and an alternative will be needed. So what are the options?
Sketch feels great, it has a very simple interface and graphics look really sharp when using it. The smart folks at Bohemian Coding offered a 50% discount on the day that Adobe announced their Fireworks news in the hope of luring more customers in. I’ve been playing with Sketch for a while now and I like it, I have a few reservations though. Firstly, it is hugely lacking when it comes to bitmap editing. I’ve never really been a fan of jumping between 2-3 apps to get the job done and as my style of work does tend to involve quite a bit of bitmap work, this is an issue for me. Secondly, it’s Mac only with no plans for a PC version. This is fine for me and all the other mac users out there, but what if you need to collaborate with a PC user? I fear that the lack of a PC version will affect the uptake of Sketch and ultimately stop it from becoming an industry standard app.
The as yet unreleased app from Bjango is said to be a precise user interface and icon design tool with vector, bitmap and 3D abilities. It’s difficult to say much about Skala as the beta is not due for release until later on this year but it seems to be getting a bit of publicity.
Adobe’s suite of Edge tools contains Edge Animate, Edge Reflow, Edge Code and Edge Inspect (among others). It’s a collection of tools that are intended to allow you to create content that is responsive, animated and works cross browser. Edge is early in it’s life and I haven’t used it in any form yet, I’m struggling to see where it will fit into my workflow. It feels like a collection of applications that simply allow me to do what I’m already doing. I’ll keep my eye on it’s development, but until Adobe can clearly explain what the hell it is and why it’s any good, I can’t see me touching it.
As far as I am aware, there are no other stand out alternatives, I’m not even sold on these alternatives but they seem to be the ones with the greatest chance of success. For now, I’ll just keep on using Photoshop, 15 years usage isn’t so bad!