The long goodbye to Fireworks

Adobe announced yesterday that Creative Cloud customers (like me) will receive an upgrade to HiDPI and Retina Display Support. This sounds like great news if you’re a Photoshop or Lightroom user — two apps that will receive the update first — but not if your everyday design app is Fireworks, not Photoshop. There was no mention of when (or more likely if) Fireworks will be upgraded.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my using Fireworks recently, even before yesterday’s announcement. A few episodes ago on Build And Analyze, Marco Arment talked about switching from his long-standing text editor to something new. What he said about how much time we invest in learning our tools, making them our own with preferences and extensions and developing working habits around them that can last for years, really struck a chord with me.

I’ve done this with Fireworks. I use it more than any other app, save probably a browser and email, and have done since version 2 in 1999. I can’t begin to imagine how many hours I’ve spent working in Fireworks.

How I used it has changed over the years. I used to make full page design visuals in Fireworks, detailed impressions of every page or template. I still use it occasionally for that because, even though I make a lot of design decisions when looking at a browser, sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than coming up with as design by shifting elements around a grid in Fireworks. Mostly though, I now use Fireworks to create assets.

I’ve customised my Fireworks with extensions and panel arrangements that make Fireworks mine. Moving to another tool would be hard and I haven’t wanted to imagine my working life without Fireworks, but I fear now that I’m going to have to.

From the Adobe blog:

We expect to update the following products with HiDPI support, free to all CS6 and Creative Cloud customers, over the next few months:

  • Dreamweaver
  • Edge Animate
  • Illustrator
  • Lightroom
  • Photoshop
  • Photoshop Touch
  • Prelude
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • SpeedGrade

We are currently evaluating the roadmap for when other products may support HiDPI displays, and we will announce those plans as they are finalized.

It didn’t come as much of a surprise that Fireworks wasn’t on the list for retina upgrades and honestly, I don’t think that Fireworks is ever going to be upgraded for retina support. Despite all the years that Adobe has owned the product, Fireworks is still written in Carbon — even in CS6. That’s why it didn’t get Photoshop’s dark UI — so it’s going to look terrible on a retina screen.

I can imagine why, even though many people love Fireworks, that it’s not even on Adobe’s published list of priorities. Fireworks just isn’t Adobe’s cash cow and if they haven’t made updating it to Cocoa a priority, realistically they’re not going to give it retina support.

I wish that Adobe cared about Fireworks. Cared enough to make it a priority or enough to let it go. If Adobe doesn’t want to take Fireworks forward, they should open source the code base so that people who do care can.

I won’t be buying a retina Mac this year. Perhaps my first will be an Air with a retina screen. As I don’t work in Fireworks on a laptop, maybe there will be some period of time to let go. Ultimately, likely within a year, eighteen months at most, all Macs will have retina screens and my working life will have changed forever.

I guess my search for a new design tool should start now.


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