Finding an Alternative to Fireworks


I’ve been a huge fan of Fireworks since I started using it for web designs over a decade ago when it was still in the hands of Macromedia. Unfortunately Adobe, who bought Macromedia and their suite of software, announced they would discontinue the software last year. Since then I’ve been thinking about alternatives and have finally decided to move on and find an alternative.

When I first started out as a web designer I used Photoshop to mock-up my designs but I tried Fireworks and found it a much better tool for user interface designs. Unlike Photoshop, which is really photo editing software, Fireworks was developed as a designated tool for creating web designs and it felt like it.

I don’t know what percentage of website designers use Photoshop but I suspect it is very high. The ubiquity of Photoshop amongst web designers though can’t be down to it being a particularly brilliant tool for creating designs. However the vast array of tools available in Photoshop and its general popularity within the wider design community has enabled website designers to create mock-ups in a workflow that works perfectly well for them.

I just don’t like it for designing websites though. I also feel that with the importance of responsive design in creating mock-ups Photoshop just doesn’t have the inherent features to cope effectively.

Adobe Edge Reflow

From what I’ve read many other designers who use Fireworks are equally fond of it and like many of them, I began to think of alternatives when Adobe made their announcement and last year.  I tried working with Adobe Edge Reflow and Photoshop for a website I created for Unicorn Press.

With responsive design now the norm having a workflow where you can work on designs for different break points at the same time was incredibly useful. But I found it clunky and frustrating, Edge Reflow, after all, was software that was in development and it felt like there were some omissions in the workspace. It just didn’t feel ready to me.

Enter Sketch

Whilst continuing to think about changing the way I work I’ve continued to use Fireworks until I bought a new laptop recently. I thought this would be a good time to look for alternatives and after having read a lot of positive feedback about Sketch I’ve decided to give it a try.

Always daunting to change the way you work, you forget how intuitive software becomes over time and you don’t really have to think particularly hard about how to do things when you use the same tool everyday.

My initial thoughts about Sketch are positive, I particularly like the built-in symbols that work like a visual framework in the same way something like Bootstrap works for HTML. That could be a real timesaver although I often repurpose assets from previous work I’ve done in Fireworks. Another feature I like is being able to drag and drop symbols out of Sketch rather than having to export them. The perpetual frustration with any new tool though is learning it. I’ll try to persevere with this though as it does have real promise.

Early days but will report back.