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Adobe Fireworks CS5 Classroom in a Book
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
This book is a textbook for my Fireworks class at the Art Institute of Austin. I am a multimedia instructor teaching courses on Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, DreamWeaver, Fireworks and After Effects and have long been a Fireworks addict and consider it one of the best applications in the Creative Suite, at times superior to Photoshop or Illustrator.

After several "heart breaking" years of nothing being published on Fireworks (except for Jim's other book on Fireworks How To's), this book is indeed very welcome. Adobe has shifted the emphasis of Fireworks to Prototyping and the book stays true to this focus. Along the way Jim introduces Bitmap and Vector Image editing as well as Masking, Image Optimization, Auto Shapes, Commands, Textures, the incredible Property Inspector and much more.

This book currently has no serious competition. Nevertheless, Jim maintains a very high standard and I enthusiastically recommend this book. Jim has a passion for Fireworks that is deeply appreciated by those of us who use it. It is a good companion to his Fireworks classes on [...]. As to improving this book, I trust this book will develop through the years and become more "fleshed out" with details similar to the older seasoned Illustrator Classroom in a Book.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Fireworks (Fw) has to be the most misunderstood app in the Master Collection.

In its earlier Macromedia life I would download trial versions of the thing and just could not get jazzed about it. Once I found it with its first appearance in an Adobe Creative Suite box (CS3), I tried to get excited but I was unable to rev myself. However, as soon as I explored Fw CS4 I was hooked. The app finally seemed full featured, unfortunately, it was a buggy mess and crashed all the time. Then Adobe released Fw CS5, a very stable product. Once Fw CS3 was released, Adobe pulled ImageReady from the Photoshop package. The thinking was that all the ImageReady features were now in Fireworks. I continued to use a backwards way of doing things in Photoshop since Fireworks and I were not getting along well. Once I befriended Fw CS5, I began telling everyone about it. The ImageReady features are just a small fraction of what Fw CS5 is all about. I decided I wanted to learn everything about Fw CS5. I looked all around for a great reference of the latest and all-time greatest Fireworks, ever, and was disappointed to find that there isn't much available. The upshot is that there's a fabulous Classroom in a Book (CIB) for Fw CS5. If you look in the back of this book you'll discover that this is written by Jim Babbage. Once Fw CS4 was released, Janet & I watched Jim on Adobe TV and lynda.com. He got us motivated about all the cool stuff we could do with Fw. Jim has to be one of the foremost authorities, in the world, on Fw. So, I went into this book with extremely high expectations of being about to round out some of my rough spots in Fireworks know-how. We're six weeks away from redoing our website, which will be updated every other day. I need to work more efficiently than using my backwards Photoshop methods, so mastering Fw CS5 is essential.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have never met Jim, but have group conversations, which include him, on closed web forums about some Adobe apps. But, that doesn't cloud my candor about reviewing this work, or anyone else's.

For someone who has attained a level of expertise in other Adobe apps, they may blow past the first CIB chapters on "Getting to Know the Workspace." Even if you've mastering the likes of InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, but are new to Fireworks, you need to read every word of Fw CS5 CIB's first chapter. The Fireworks user interface (UI) is not like that of other CS5 apps (which I feel is the app's biggest downfall). It still has some Macromedia blood in its veins and this CIB will make the Dreamweaver user feel comfortable. Get to know the first chapter before moving forward.

If you're feeling a little rattled, about being in some unfamiliar territory, the second lesson, on workflow tools, will allow Photoshop professionals to feel at home. Jim even goes above the call of duty in filling you in on when things can come into Fireworks from Photoshop, but not always find their way back (called "round-tripping"). This same lesson gets into states, not a term some will have even heard of, before. It's how Fw allows you to mock-up web interactivity. At first I thought, "Why is only three pages devoted to this?" But, then I realized that's all it took to get comfortable with the tools and basic techniques.

Most of the third chapter, on bit map images, is essential if you do not have any background in that sort of thing. It has to be said. For someone who already knows all of this, it's not a waste of time to carefully walk through the whole thing just to be sure your Fw legs are on firm ground. Being someone who goes back to Photoshop 2.0, I found the example images to be inspirational. Even before I got into some of the features, which are unique to Fw, a few of the images in an alley and the use of watches made me think, "I want to do that!" The fourth lesson of selections cannot be left unexplored, for the beginner. Jim has given the book a theme using images relative to intrigue and espionage, which has to make you smile.

For the Illustrator pro, the fifth chapter, on vector images, will initially seem like old hat and you'll be tempted to zoom through it. That would be a mistake. Fw has a variety of tools and features which are all its own. Jim has set aside a section of this chapter which allows you to see what's unique. Bookmark page 92 for a vector tool reference.

I must admit that I cannot get used to how text works in Fw. It seems clumsy to deal with in a properties panel and the text engine is very weak. It's unlike anything else in the Adobe Master Collection and not easily to fit into the scope of users' experiences, with other Adobe apps. Text, for the web has its own set of eccentricities. Just like in the previous lesson, on masking, Jim makes this applicable to web design rather than taking you through meaningless basics.

Preparing graphics for the web, today, is different than the days when ImageReady was around. More is expected of a truly invigorating website as opposed to the long-ago of trying to make images acceptable to lousy dial-up modems. This book/CD package wisely makes no assumptions that you know anything about optimization basics and dedicates four pages to being sure you have foundational knowledge. This lesson is so well-done that it makes it worth buying the book just for it. Chapter 8 is so elaborately detailed that its something of an indispensable desktop reference.

The very first thing I wanted to do with Fireworks, many years ago, was create some really cool web buttons. I became frustrated and gave up. It was a Macromedia product, then. So, there was no CIB, of course, in those days. Jim summarizes this in a lesson called "Using Symbols." I have been getting by in Photoshop, to do this, and it a very inefficient use of my time. Fireworks is what I should be (and will be) using, from now on. If I had a book like this, way back when, I'd have adopted Fw, long ago.

For an advanced web designer, who needs to prototype (and what pro doesn't), this is the number one reason to own Fw CS5. You really cannot do this via some backwards method in another Master Collection app. Chapter 10 gets you up to speed and chapter 11 gives you the lessons you need to master it. For many, these last two paper chapters are what every web designer MUST tackle.

If that's not enough, Mr. Babbage has two more chapters for you. You can download the pages as one PDF for each chapter and the components of them come on your CD-ROM. I'm clueless as to why the PDFs are not on the CD-ROM. That seems like an oversight on behalf of Adobe Press. If you want to really master Fw, these chapters are essential. They're primary direction is how Fw integrates with other Adobe apps. You cannot be a web professional without what's in these two bonus chapters. They show you how to be more than good, but great. I must admit that, for the most part, I went through page after page of these chapters thinking, "I had no idea!" This is probably the only place on the planet that this is so succinctly examined.

I hate to downgrade this fabulous package to 4.9 stars because of the need to download the PDFs, but I know it irritates some people, so 5.0 isn't possible. However, amazon does not permit fractional stars, so it gets a full 5.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2011
This book is my textbook for a class. Our assignments for the class are completely based on the exercises in the book. I have to say that I'm supremely disappointed in this book. No textbook should have this many errors in the first 37 pages. Since this is billed as the "official training workbook," for Fireworks, the errors are doubly frustrating, as I have no prior knowledge of the program and am left wondering if I am making a mistake or the book is simply wrong. Thankfully, other students are posting the same problems on our discussion board, so I know that I'm not alone in these issues. It also makes it very hard to know if I am completing the assignments correctly, as some key information is missing from the instructions. In just the 2nd Chapter, here are the mistakes/omissions that I've encountered:

- Chapter 2, page 30: There aren't two "Auction background" items, as listed in the text and shown in the graphic.
- Chapter 2, page 34-35: The instructions don't tell say which Layer to add the effect to
- Chapter 2, page 36: There is no "movie title" object on the home_double_identity Page, but using this element is crucial to completing the exercise.
- Chapter 2, page 36: "Adjust Color" isn't on the Properties tab. The correct action is + next to Filters > Adjust Color > Levels...

I have to wonder if anyone even worked through these exercises before publishing the book. Very disappointing, Adobe.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
This is a well written, generously illustrated primer on Fireworks CS5, but bear in mind that it only scratches the surface of what this powerful program can do; you'll need to do a fair amount of experimenting on your own (which author Jim Babbage encourages) to get the most value from this book. My one complaint concerns the two "bonus" chapters available for download from the publisher's site that should have been part of the print edition given its price.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2010
I just finished using this in a college class that taught both PS and FW. We used the Classroom in a Book textbooks for both programs. I already had some training in PS so I didn't have much trouble going through that book. I did notice it was pretty weak compared to what I had learned from before. But when it came to FW, I had no experience with the program and was much more dependent on the book explaining itself. This book does not deserve five or even four stars from its biggest fans. There is no way it deserves any significant praise. I now have a general idea of what FW is good for and I would like to really learn how to use it. That is all I got from this book.

First, the lessons are just 'plug in the numbers they tell you' recipes. The explanations of what you are doing and why are rare and brief. Second, several lessons had steps that omitted how to do what it was telling you to do ... as if the subject had already been covered when, in fact, it had not. I had several frustrating moments this semester as I racked my brain trying to figure out what the book was trying to tell me to do. It seemed like the quality of the lessons decreased as I progressed through the book. Our class used one the the extra lessons on the CD as our final project. That lesson was the worst. Missing explanations. Incorrect instructions (tells you to slice up with the knife tool when you actually need to slice across). Confusing instructions (am I supposed to do something here or just look at the example???). I was reduced to sitting there cursing at the instructions they were so bad.

I can only conclude that the authors and those who think this is a good book have enough experience with FW that they skip over the lack of explanations without even noticing. This book will give a very basic introduction to FW to the newbie (btw, I am a newbie to FW - not Adobe (I have some training in InDesign, PS, Illustrator, and a little exposure to Dreamweaver). You may learn something but expect to be frustrated several times while going through the book. I really wish there was something else out there.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2011
I loved this book. The lessons were easy to follow and covered all the basics. I am an expert in Photoshop, but none of the other Adobe products. I bought CS5 and needed to learn all the other programs to update my skills. I took a class in dreamweaver, and they touched on Fireworks, but only to make a simple rollover button. I got this book to expand my knowledge. I was intrigued by the video on Adobe TV, that was supposed to be a tutorial, but was more of an advertisement.

This books gave me the basic tools to explore the program. One of the other reviewers complained about this being something like "step by step, cookie cutter or fill in the blanks" sort of teaching, but how else are you going to get a feel for the basics, if you've never touched a program before? It's up to you and your imagination to play with it from there. Now at least I know what each of the tools does, how to use the palettes and menus and I have an idea of how they all work together. It may be too simplistic for some, but if you have no other form of teaching, this book can be followed by those who have no clue what they are doing. Being able to complete a lesson and have your picture turn out the way you expect increases your confidence that you can get what you expect in your own designs. For the person who complained it wasn't comprehensive enough, all Adobe products are powerful and complex enough that many books could be written on them with no overlapping information. This is just a starter book, and in my opinion, it fits that role beautifully.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2011
I'm using this CIB along with an online tutorial (linda.com) and am finding it extremely easy to learn. The book is very good, though there are places where the text does not match the way Fireworks shows itself on my Mac, for instance, it may tell you to go to the pull down menu and find x. On several occasions I have not found the item on the menu where it was supposed to be. I've had the same problem with performing various actions, in which the program does not seem to correspond exactly to the book. That being said, these occasions happen rarely, and overall, the book is very easy to follow. I feel that I am learning things that I will be able to put to use.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2011
I specifically bought the CS5 book because it promised 2 bonus chapters, lesson 12 and 13. The bonus chapters materials are in the lessons folder on the CD, as the book told me. However, the PDF files with the lesson material were supposed to be in a 'Bonus' folder on the CD. There is no Bonus folder on my CD. I can't find any information on the book's website about this issue or how to get the PDF files.
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on June 4, 2014
The last version of Fireworks I had was produced by Macromedia, not Adobe, so that gives you an idea of how far out of date I was. When I upgraded all my applications to CS5/5.5, I figured I needed to learn from scratch. With Fireworks, this was problematical because there were not many books available. I was further reluctant because, way back when, I did not care much for the Classroom in a Book series. I found this edition for Fireworks to be well done which a good thing because it was practically the only book available.

The tutorial does a good job of explaining the differences between vector and raster graphics along with the tools and methods for dealing with each. It goes into depth (ad nauseum) on web related techniques such as slices, rollovers, states etc. In that respect, it was very useful. What I wish it spent more time on was the integration between Fireworks and Dreamweaver. In the Macromedia days, that was pretty tight. It may still be but you wouldn’t know from this text.

Over all, I am pleased. It was worth the time and the effort.
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on August 25, 2012
I wanted to use Fireworks as a rapid development platform for web pages and the book eventually does explain the limitations of Fireworks as well as its advantages. However, you never actually develop a finished production web site. I'm almost at the end of the book now and I think if I was using Fireworks to develop a web site, I would still have more questions than answers.

The book needs to lead you through the development of a final product, i.e., a production web site.

Also, this uses a cookbook approach where it takes you step by step through a series of projects. My problem with that is you don't learn to do things your own way. You do what they tell you to do and it works, but you may be unsure why you did it that way or if there were alternative methods. The book doesn't really stress the "philosophy" behind the organization of the program and the tools in it. So, I find myself struggling to use it. I would prefer something more on the lines of a traditional text book.
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