What does the future hold for Adobe Fireworks? Is it really dead? Or is it still good enough to be considered as a worthy design tool?
Back in May 2013, Adobe announced that it has had enough of Fireworks, and decided to feature-freeze its popular design software. While this clearly upset loyal Fireworks users, and the Envato Market community, the fact remains that Adobe Fireworks is no longer under active maintenance and for all practical purposes, its time to shine is over.
So, what does the future hold for Adobe Fireworks? Is it really dead? Or is it still good enough to be considered as a worthy design tool?
While Adobe Fireworks is not under active development, it is still available as part of Creative Cloud. And if you haven't used it before, you can download a trial here.
Two questions come to mind: why does the design world love Fireworks so much, and why was it killed in the first place?
The first question is rather simple to answer. Fireworks, to be honest, was never the de facto design tool for designers out there. Instead, it was the Swiss Army knife of your design workflow, capable of accomplishing virtually anything that you demand, and at the same time, being agile and light enough to be maintenance-free.
Adobe Fireworks is one tool that can be used for designing exclusively for the screen. Furthermore, its wireframing and prototyping capabilities make it perfect for UI design as well -- something that Photoshop would be overkill for. Add the fact that Fireworks also offers vector tools and support for bitmap editing, as well as the ability to work with live iOS and HTML prototypes, and you have one design weapon that everyone would like to get their hands on.
At this point, let us turn to the second question: if Fireworks was/is really that good, why did Adobe decide that they want nothing to do with it anymore?
Well, I believe only Adobe can answer it best, but bluntly put, this had more to do with practical considerations than anything else. As a print, photography and video company, Adobe has been trying hard to bridge the gap between their design offerings and their other products. Call it what you want, but personally, I find their Creative Suite to be disparate, even though it is offered as one united package.
That said, Fireworks, until 2013, stood as one tool that many designers turned to, especially for UI design -- quite possibly at the cost of Photoshop and/or Illustrator. So when Adobe decided to pull the plug on Fireworks, they ensured that Photoshop and Illustrator do not suffer at the hands of a minor product. Is this market control? Possibly. An economically-inspired decision? Surely.
Technically speaking, Adobe have just feature-frozen Fireworks -- they have not killed it. It is still available for users, albeit new features and major updates are no longer on offer.
However, thanks to the design community, Fireworks is still supplemented by a wide array of free extensions, that can enhance its functionality and bring it up to par with present-day design tools. In essence, even though Fireworks is no longer given major feature updates, by using free extensions, you can still continue to use it and create awesome stuff !
Here are some Fireworks extension resource sites you should bookmark:
So, can we continue using Fireworks without having to worry about the future? After all, hooray for extensions!
Apparently yes, but that does not eliminate the fact that Fireworks in itself is not going to be receiving any love from its parent company. Knowing Adobe, it is highly unlikely that they will release Fireworks as an open source tool, so extensions are all the community can actually offer. With no major feature upgrades on offer, there is also a possibility that future operating systems might not support Fireworks anyway.
In such a scenario, looking for an alternative to Fireworks is surely not a bad idea. However, it is only when you do start looking for an alternative that you realize that the void is still not fully filled, even though three years have passed.
On one hand, we have Adobe’s own offerings such as Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. However, the major reason why Fireworks outshone its competition is because it can be that small tool in your design workflow which just gets the job done -- be it screen design or UI design, Fireworks can work seamlessly, and at the same time, be low on cholesterol. None of Adobe’s other products can offer that.
While replacements do exist, most of them are currently tied to a given operating system or the other, so universal “jump the ship” concept fails to apply here. This is precisely why Fireworks is still loved by the community, and new extensions just keep coming!
Much like any other feature-frozen tool or software, there is not much that Fireworks can look forward to. Eventually, the security updates and bug fixes will also cease to arrive, and Fireworks will phase into oblivion.
However, currently, there is no cause to panic for current Fireworks users, because owing to love from the community and also due to lack of a true replacement, Fireworks is still loved and well-received by many.
So if you are a Fireworks user, the ideal thing to do will be to continue using it, but at the same time, keep an eye out for a potential alternative, as and when it does arrive.
Are/were you a Fireworks user? What are your thoughts about the software and its possible replacements? Share your views with us in the comments below!
Check out Envato's 10 part learning guide from Leigh Howells, Fireworks in the Real World, that will show you how to effectively use Adobe Fireworks and how it can help improve your web design workflow.