A journal that focuses on Flash Platform development, and a little bit about what I am up to on any given day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fireworks8, our designers aren't happy.

Steve, our lead designer here is a big Fireworks fan. He does most of his UI mock-ups using Fireworks, and uses it it very comfortably next to Photoshop.

Today I pulled down my copy of Studio 8 from my Devnet subscription. Steve wanted to explore Fireworks 8 and see what they added. After playing for awhile as well as watching the new features overviews, he let as all know that he was pretty unimpressed.

I took a peek at it too and I have to sadly agree.


So instead of moan about the lack of attention the tool has gotten, I will suggest some possibilities for the tool that would be alot more useful than what they have added, and make Fireworks again and really important member of the Studio. Off the top of my head I can think of 2 big ones:


1/Flash and Flex Component Library of SmartShapes

I am certain that in the near future Flex development will really start moving into the mainstream. When that happens, I am sure we will again enter a period similar to the early web application days where developers control so much of the final project, that designers are somewhat alientated from the process.

To combat that, how about a library of all of the Flex/Flash components so Designers can actually do mock-ups with proper components and not have to take screen shots of these items.

If these SmartShapes enforced the rules of the component but easily exposed the properties and styles of the component to the designer then that would be a great feature.

While they are at it, add a library of all browser components as well, the way IE and Firefox renders them. I am sure most designers doing HTML sites would again greatly benefit from this.

Ah man, if they also allowed you to preview the different ways that different OSs render them as well, designers would be lovin it!

Top it all of with the ability to export a CSS file for Flex or HTML that takes care of all of these items. Or even better, have it output an MXML file that a developer can easily then tighten up, but at least have a great design to start off with.

I couldn't believe that a Halo Light library was added, but not any others?? Seems bizarre.


2/Edit a Flex or Flash component Theme file

Ok if a designer could edit a component theme and focus on graphics rather than being exposed to hardcore developer set ups for these type of things then we would have a killer feature.

Make it so Fireworks exposed all states of the components and gave the designer fine grain control, but still enforced component "rules".

Finally have it so this process is smooth when working with developers. I just want to link to the designer theme file and compile my project. No other recompiling the whole framework type business.


Anyways, I will continue to add features as I think of them, but truth is the new Fireworks doesn't deserve and 8 beside it. Sorry to be a bummer, but it is true.

8 Comments:

Blogger Josh Dura said...

"When that happens, I am sure we will again enter a period similar to the early web application days where developers control so much of the final project, that designers are somewhat alientated from the process."

Please tell me you don't seriously think this will EVER happen? :) Designers will always be just as much of the process as developers. Whether it be from a IA standpoint, or a UI standpoint, Designers know 10x more than a Developer ever will about User Interface.

2:51 PM

 
Blogger Tony said...

Well,

My point is this:

With Flex you are being tossed into a component framework. To take advantage of Flex you really have to leverage the components that make it up.

Right now there is now way for a designer to really get into the Flex development scene less screen capturing shots of components and trying to tweak them out.

It would be nice to have some facility in Fireworks to do such a thing rather than adding Tube auto-shapes.

I was originally trained as a designer and I certainly know how important designers are to the process of developing projects, but I feel for some reason that the developer technology in the Macromedia world is moving forward faster than the designer tools are.

This creates hiccups in workflow, and makes it hard to get designes to work seemlessly when developers take over.

Another example: Steve frowned when he realized that a vertical gradient fill on a shape did not roundtrip from Fireworks to Flash.....

Fireworks in my mind is more of a production tool than it is a design tool. Those types of things like the above example to me are a big problem.

3:24 PM

 
Blogger senocular said...

So... the disappointment comes from a lack of components? Is that your only argument? Granted, Fireworks 8 isn't loaded with new features, but additions like the new CSS menus are substantial. Plus, you have to consider the fact that FW has is pretty low on the scale of importance when it comes to Studio Apps.

Given that Fireworks is extendable, maybe it's time to get some developers to start making some of these components for you. I know that at least one person was working on some UI auto shapes; I have yet to hear how progress with that has been going. The potential is out there. Given the lack of resources MM is willing to throw at FW, maybe its time the community put some effort into making it better as well.

3:38 PM

 
Blogger Tony said...

It seems as if it is low on the priority list, but I'm sure the price would not reflect that.

I am a developer, and I totally hear you about creating our own set of component auto-shapes. It just seemed like something that Macromedia could have invested alot of time in, and it would have been very useful, and used often.

4:04 PM

 
Anonymous julian said...

Josh: I strongly disagree with this "Designers know 10x more than a Developer ever will about User Interface." While some designers know how to make a UI look pretty some lack the logic and functionality thought process that is required to make a UI work effectively. Now that's not to say that a lot of designers don't possess these skills, but to make that bold of a statement that designers know 10x more then a developer when it comes to UI development is completely inaccurate.

Tony: I think someone has already built a theme panel for components for flash. now i know that doesn't really solve the problem but it's a start. I don't know a lot about the JSAPI in FW but maybe it could be ported over somehow. But you bring up some great points and possible features. Who knows maybe we'll see flash components in Photoshop CS3.

8:04 PM

 
Blogger senocular said...

As a result of this post, I thought I'd put my foot down and do something about this whole "component issue."

I made a pair of new Fireworks Auto Shapes that you (or anyone reading this) can try out before I officially release them.

MXP installer:
http://www.senocular.com/pub/fireworks/scalecompshapes.mxp

Examples:
http://www.senocular.com/pub/fireworks/scalecompshapes_examples.png

You should be able to work with the examples png without installing the mxp if you want to check them out real quick. Without installing, however, the dialogs will not work.

You can read the help here and find more information about the shapes (and see what you're missing in the dialogs) here:
http://www.senocular.com/pub/fireworks/scalecompshapes/Help.html

If/when you install the shapes the help will also be available from the shapes' Options.

Granted, this doesn't solve everyone's problems, but it does provide a tool that could help in dealing with them. All you need is a few interface grabs, a little time and diligence and you can have virtually any component you want. A good job for an intern I think.

12:37 PM

 
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