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Stop comparing Fireworks with Photoshop! : Jun 13 2008

Web Design / Comments

Chalk and cheese

This has been a running theme for a while amongst a few designers and developers.

I would like to point out that – like others – these are just my opinions, but they are opinions based on the following experience:

  • 14 years experience using Photoshop (from version 4.0 – on OS7 when MACs were built by 3rd party companies – to CS3)
  • 12 years experience using Adobe Illustrator (version 6 to CS3)
  • 7 years experience using Fireworks to layout out websites and produce web based layout graphics (version 4 to CS3)

I think a few designers – because they are used to the ‘one-stop-shop’ nature of Photoshop – think that FW is the Macromedia version of PS – an ‘either/or’ situation. This is not the case. It is not the same situation as ‘Freehand’ and ‘Illustrator’ that were very similar in terms of their intended use and output (you will note that freehand has been justifiably binned by Adobe, they would have done the same with FW had they been viewed as equivalents I’m sure)

If you were to compare the 2 thoroughly, they are vastly different in terms of what they actually do and what they actually are as applications:


Photoshop began life as a photo manipulation application, hence the name. It then adapted to become a Graphic Design tool (when there was only print as an output). Finally it added it’s web design arm.

It is an excellent and justifiably leading Graphic Design application with good web design tools and features.

I have used Photoshop to: aid with my printed illustration work, to design logos, layout magazine spreads, editorial designs, produce typographical and graphical designs, and also to layout websites.


Fireworks is an excellent web layout design tool with good and appropriate graphic design capabilities, i.e. it is not trying to be Photoshop. It knows what its main function is and is built specifically for that purpose.

Photoshop can do everything that Fireworks can do in terms of web layout design and image preparation and optimisation (and all that gubbins), it is just that Fireworks does it better (that last sentence, again, based on 12 years of experience using these applications).

I think that many who believe Photoshop to be a better web layout tool believe so solely because they are used to the PS environment. But I also believe that many are directly comparing the 2 as if equivalent applications. STOP IT. Basically.

Perhaps one day adobe will combine the 2 applications. But, in theory, they could combine AI with PS and FW also. Heck, why not throw in a word processing app as well! They could call it ‘Adobe Photoshopping Precinct’ (or ‘Adobe Mall’, for any American readers). I don’t believe they should.

I like having specialist applications for specialist areas. I like having powerful professional tools for creating graphical elements (logos, illustrations, processed photos, graphical artwork, complex vector artwork). But I also like having a dedicated environment for laying out these elements pixel perfect ready for building. And I believe there is no better application than Fireworks for handling that stage of the process.




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