Macromedia Fireworks 4

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Live effects
Another major attraction to Fireworks is the program's ability to use Photoshop filters and keep the resulting effects editable. In other words, it's nondestructive. You're probably used to this sort of thing vis a vis Photoshop's Layer Effects. This is similar, except just about any Photoshop filter can be used in the way. So, basically, you can apply a filter, turn it on or off at any time, update the filter as you make changes to your image or even go in an edit the filter's settings. These are called "live effects."

Sound too good to be true? Well, admittedly, in some cases it is. Some filters just don't work well as live effects and can have unpredictable results. Sometimes a filter just doesn't look right, while other times it might cause Fireworks to forget where your plugins folder is, so you have to reload the folder and relaunch Fireworks.

Not to fear, however. Fireworks keeps two pull-down menus for effects. There are the regular, old, destructive filters and the live effects. If you find a filter to be buggy as a live effect, you can simply remove it from the Effects palette but still access it from the filter menu (called Xtras in Fireworks). Basically it's up to plugin developers to make their filters useable as live effects. Many are already doing so.

Interactive graphics
As I've said before, the strength of Fireworks is in its ability to create graphics for the Web, and this applies to interactive elements as well. Of course, the program has nowhere near the interactive capabilities of Flash. But it can still get you through a project with some pretty hefty tools.

For simple animation, Fireworks can handle tweening for common transformations, such as rotation and position. It can also be used to create rollovers and can very easily generate slices of an image that can be hyperlinked directly in Fireworks or in a Web page layout program.

But, again, version 4 goes even further with a complete, step by step wizard for creating interactive pop-up menus, a feature that once again brings it to the front of the interactive graphics pack. This is so shockingly simple that you can't even imagine it. It would actually take me significantly more time to type out an explanation of how it works than it would to create a pop-up menu in Fireworks. So I'll give it to you the quick way. All you have to do is select an area of your image that will trigger the menu. Then you just select Insert > Pop-up Menu and fill in the blanks. It's really this easy.

Creating pop-up menus in Fireworks 4 is just a matter of filling in a few
blanks. Here I've created three main menu items (Tutorials, Reviews and
Features). I've also created a submenu under Tutorials called "Web
Design." Beneath this, I've placed two tertiary menus called "Web Page
Layout" and "Web Graphics." It was all done with a few drags and drops
and a few button pushes.

After you've filled in your information for each menu item, you just move on and select your formatting. You can use text or graphics, with various options for each. Excellent implementation.

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