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Revisiting Popup Menus in Fireworks 4

The good news, the bad news and the partial workaround

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

One of the great new features in Macromedia Fireworks 4 is the ability to create interactive menus practically on the fly. When I reviewed Fireworks last week, I touted this feature as one of the best reasons to upgrade from version 3 to version 4. I might have jumped the gun there. It seems there are some problems with the interactive menu feature in Fireworks 4. So let's take a look.

First off, when you're in Fireworks itself, the interactive menu feature is simple and very clean. If you preview it in your browser, it works great. The problem is that when you actually use the menus on a Web page, something nasty happens: The menu positions are written in Fireworks with absolute positions. So, if you move the menus on your page, they pop up in the wrong place. Big problem. In other words, you can't really use these menus. That is, not unless you follow ol' Doc Davey's regimen for fixing up the JavaScript. It's a lot more labor-intensive than you might want it to be, but it is a temporary solution while Macromedia figures out a way to fix it on their end.

We';ll start off by learning how to create the actual menus in Fireworks. Then we'll look at how to use Dreamweaver to bring them into an HTML page and fix up the positioning of the popup elements.

Creating the menus
Creating the menus themselves is a terribly simple process. First, just take an image and create hotspots or slices on the areas of your image you want to trigger the popup menus. For my example, I'm going to use a text-based navigation bar. You can use anything you want.

Now all you have to do is select a slice by clicking on it with the arrow tool and then choose Insert > Pop-up Menu.

You will get a dialog box asking you to fill in a few blanks so that Fireworks can know what to do with your menu. Notice that in my example below, several of the menu items are indented. This indentation turns these items into submenus of the item above them. You can indent again to make sub-submenus, apparently without limit.

If you created your menus out of order, you can just drag them around in this dialog box to position them correctly. If any become indented against your will, just click on the outdent button to return them to a normal state. When you're done filling in the information, click "Next."

All that's left to do is pick your style. You can choose from text or images, with a few different options for each.

Lather, rinse and repeat for each hotspot you created on your original image.; When you're done, you can preview your work directly from Fireworks in your browser to make sure that everything's right.

Of course, as we already know—and contrary to what you see previewed in your browser—everything is not all right. This will become clear when you try to place your new menu into an HTML document.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.