KimKim's blog at Community MX

Right on the edge of useful

Extreme Makeover for Fireworks

Posted Thursday, August 26, 2004 8:23:32 PM by Kim

I love Fireworks. Really. Of all the tools in the MX Suite it's easily the one I'm most comfortable working in. But just like Dreamweaver, there are parts of the interface in need of an extreme makeover. In the case of Fireworks it's the Batch Process dialog.

Fireworks can be many things to many people. It's a superb graphic design program that allows you to work in the magical world of live effects and vector objects almost effortlessly. When it comes to ease of use when developing site compositions the drawing tools combined with the ability to slice images into different graphical objects really makes the page design process much more manageable.

But the one area where the program should also excel, the ability to batch process large number of images, is exactly where it falls down on the job. The actual batch process works just fine, but once again the dialog that you have to work through seems like it was designed by committee.

To begin with, how is it possible that you can still proceed all the way through the steps in the batch process without ever selecting the images to be process? That's the first thing you're supposed to do, but adding images or entire folders that hold your images is an easy step to mess up. Without any feedback from the program you proceed happily along, until you get to the last screen where you can go no further. That's just not right. Help me catch my mistakes before I get going, not after the fact please.

And as with the CSS editor in Dreamweaver, the interface itself is sorely in need of an update to this century. What I'd love to see is a drag-and-drop interface, with a batch area on the left side of a window where I can drag files of folders into place and then build my batch process as I need. Only need to rotate 2 images out of 70? I should be able to apply special processes to individual images as I need to. And how can there be no scale to a set proportion, or scale to a target file weight? Those features really need to be there so I can do the work I need as productively as possible.

So, to the good folks at Macromedia, I say let's think outside the box a little bit. Head on over to the Apple Store and play with the interface in Motion for instance. See what a smooth and non-obtrusive user interface can be. For that matter, spend a little money and beef up your user interface design and programming staff. Most users are way past the hunt and peck and poke and pray mode when using the Studio MX tools. We (and I use that term guardedly) are pros who need the best tools we can find to do our jobs. I want to see Macromedia remain the leader in the world of web design, but that means taking a hard look at some of the ways that your users interface with the tools and the kinds of work we need to get done. In some cases an extreme makeover may be in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Category tags: Fireworks

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