Over the years, I’ve used many apps for wireframing, from Mockflow to Mockingbird, Dreamweaver to Flairbuilder, Protoshare to Balsamiq, Omnigraffle to Indesign and Illustrator. And, of course, everything still begins (and sometimes ends) on paper. But I’ve yet to give Fireworks a whirl, despite the fact that some UX people rave about its strengths as a wireframing and prototyping tool.
So last night I began developing some wires using Fireworks, and thus far I’m pretty impressed. I can export the wireframes as clickable PDFs or as PNGs with HTML hot spots, or as sliced HTML files with rich interactivity, making them easy to share with clients and colleagues.
Supposedly I will be able to bring them directly into Photoshop for UI design when they’re complete. All wireframe pages are stored in one Fireworks file (Fireworks uses a flavor of PNG that permits multiple layers and states, as well as vector shapes, symbols, and interactivity). I can use standard Adobe keyboard shortcuts. And, I can work the way I’m used to working: like a designer, not a programmer.
The biggest challenge so far hasn’t been learning Fireworks, but forgetting Photoshop: both apps are very similar in terms of form and function, yet they are different in subtle but critical ways. I seem to keep trying to do things the Photoshop way, and it doesn’t always work. Nonetheless, it’s a familiar environment, and that’s pretty helpful.
Some of my friends have said they don’t understand why I try to so many apps when there’s probably one that works better than others (and they each have their own preferences, of course). In my case, however, either I haven’t found the perfect tool or, more likely, in my opinion, each project requires a different tool.
In any event, I’m going to try to slug it out with Fireworks on this project, and I’ll report my progress when I’m done.
Update: Well, that was fast. After one day of use, I can state without equivocation that I won’t be trying to tackle this project using Fireworks. I wrestled for a couple of hours with the States / Layers / Pages confusion. Adobe’s help application was confusing, verbose, and incomplete. I’m sorry to report that Fireworks won’t be at the top of my tools of choice for wireframing, as I believe a great tool should be fairly self-explanatory, especially when it comes to basic tasks like exporting pages and states.