The Tale of Two Programs – Photoshop and Fireworks

Did you know that Photoshop has been around for over 26 years? Yep. It’s “birthday” was last week (February 19th). It has become both ubiquitous and synonymous with graphic work – namely photographic work. Some people seem to think that Photoshop is the end-all, be-all of all graphic work, but this is a common misconception. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fantastic things Photoshop allows me to do with photographs, but if I had to design a regular graphic (especially one that that was to be printed), I would not opt for it… and neither should you. I will give you a second to go through the “but why, Steve?” moment in your head.

OK, let me explain my reasoning to you, and I can do it with one word: pixels. Photographic work is all about the pixels, and Photoshop was built around that little word. That means that if you want to make a poster-sized project out of something, it just may look all craggily on its edges if you use Photoshop. Yes, there are ways around it, but why add extra steps when you have another program that effectively removes those steps in the first place? And that program’s name is… (dramatic pause for effect)… Fireworks.

Fireworks was originally created by Macromedia as a sort-of alternative to Photoshop. Sort of. Fireworks is different, in that instead of pixels being its focus, it is vectored graphics. That means no matter how large or small you make your graphic, it will look clean and sharp. This is ideal for web developers and the like.

It’s also worth noting a couple of other things about Fireworks. First, generally the file size of your graphics in Fireworks is smaller, due to the better image compression capabilities in the program. I can’t fully explain why, because I don’t fully understand why. When someone asks me about it, I just respond with “It’s science,” and walk away quickly. Secondly, Adobe decided back in 2013 to no longer create updates or new features to the program. So, keep that in mind.

If you would really like to dive in deeper and explore the differences firsthand, let me know. Currently there is a preliminary plan to create a workshop explaining (and using) the two programs, to allow you to make the decision on which one you would choose for a particular project. If you are interested, let me know.

Steve Holsonback
Instructional Media Design Specialist
Center for Academic & Professional Excellence
Ext. 3425


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