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Media Center, Windows Phone7 + Silverlight Goodness..

New Adobe Fireworks (CS3) Announced

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Adobe has just announced updates (CS3) to it’s current set of design and web tools.

Although the majority of these products aren’t things that I would use – one of them Macromedia Adobe Fireworks is probably the best rapid prototyping/storyboarding/design tool out there. I was pretty worried that when Adobe aquired Macromedia – Fireworks would be dumped in favour of it’s existing rival Adobe ImageReady (which isn’t nearly as good) – but luckily this is not the case.

The new Fireworks CS3 update includes some significant new changes (wheras the last few versions only had minor changes) – and a lot of these are really enhance it’s usefulness for prototyping/design of MediaCenter and WPF Applications. Although I’m sure these MS technologies are of little interest to Adobe (who have their own rival Flash/Flex technology and also focus on Web Design) – the way you would go about storyboarding and designing these applications are very similar. Hence – the new features added will also directly benefit Media Center + WPF developers.

Some of the more notable additions to Fireworks CS3 which also suit MCPL/WPF developers/designers include (italic text taken from the Adobe Fireworks New Features Page) :

MultiPage Support : "Use the new Pages panel to create multiple pages in a single document (PNG file), and share layers across multiple pages. Each page can contain its own slices, layers, frames, animations, and canvas settings, making it easy to simulate website flow in a prototype".

Hierarchical layer organization : "Organize and manage your prototypes with a new hierarchical layer structure — similar to the one in Adobe Photoshop — that enables you to easily organize web layers and pages"

Intelligent scaling (aka as "NineGrid" in MCPL) : "Intelligently scale buttons and graphic symbols (in vector or bitmap) with 9-slice scaling. Combine 9-slice scaling with the new Auto Shape library to accelerate website and application prototyping."

There’s also a bunch of other new features which focus on reuse of graphics, easier creation of common asset libraries which are also of special interest – along with quite a few new Photoshop style filter image effects not previously available.

One area that also looks very interesting is the support for Adobe Flex and the way you can create UI’s from within the graphical editor. (and then export XML files and assets which can be consumed by Flex). I’m not clear exactly how it all hangs together (and have only seen some brief examples in the flash based presentations) – but it’s possible that some sort of converter could then translate this data for use in MCPL or WPF. At worst case – this also looks like a great tool for visually prototyping Windows Applications + WPF as well due to the inclusion of assets that behave like the various common UI controls (ie. Comboboxes, Lists etc). While you can do all this with Expression Blend – if Adobe can retain the smooth as silk UX you normally get in Fireworks for the Flex design capabilities – this will be a truely awesome feature (as Blend still feels a little clunky).

I also am in hope that Microsoft will one day bring out a product that can provide this feature set (and optimize it for Windows technologies). While their Expression products are great at what they do – there’s definitely a big hole in the area of prototyping/design/storyboarding – as their existing tools all fit into different niches. (ie Blend is good for WPF layout – but has no real design capabilities, Design is a too focused on Vector graphics and comes off more as a DTP/Drawing package with little focus on Application design).

Anyhow I’m looking forward to checking Fireworks CS3 out when it’s released (and you can Preorder it now if you are in the US).

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Written by mobilewares

March 28, 2007 at 1:37 am

Posted in General

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