One of the most beloved Mac graphic and design applications is Adobe’s Fireworks. Few Mac apps have such a blend of workflow and functions, a user interface that is natural yet efficient. Alas, Fireworks is dead. Well, dying. Adobe hasn’t updated Fireworks in years, and when macOS goes fully 64-bit, it will be time to say goodbye.
Fireworks came from a company called Macromedia which was also responsible for Apple’s own Final Cut Pro video editor. And Flash. Fireworks roots can be traced back to Altsys’ Freehand, another popular vector-based graphics tool.
Time marches on. Adobe is into marketing media apps and website design isn’t what it used to be. Fireworks is on life support, not likely to be updated to 64-bit requirements in the future. While the app remains available, Adobe’s Buy Fireworks CS6 page returns a 404 Page Not Found error.
What aspect of Fireworks I love most is the workflow. It was made for website graphic development and no graphic app I know of compresses files better.
What can replace Fireworks blend of bit map editor meets vector graphics editor? I’ve tried them all. From Photoshop to Illustrator. From Pixelmator to Affinity Designer. From GraphicConverter to Logoist and everything in between. There are many graphic design options for Mac users, but none that match Fireworks’ workflow and file compression capability.
In training is Flying Meat’s Acorn, a Mac image editing tool that has been around awhile and blends bitmap tools with vector tools.
In many ways I would consider Acorn something of a Fireworks Lite. It’s not as web graphics friendly so the workflow does not match, but the basic tools I use– some bitmap, many vector-based graphics, a few filters, and lack of clutter– seems to work well. So far. Acorn has more text-based tools and options than Fireworks, though I’ve relied more on ArtText and Logoist for logo design in recent years.
Vector-based design tools seem to be an afterthought these days, but Acorn seems to remember the past with plenty of design elements– layers, brushes, color picker, shape processor, alignment, curves, Photoshop brush options, RAW image import, Boolean shape tools, a very good text tool, and bitmap options to clone, stamp, dodge, burn and smudge an image. And, yes, there are gradients, Bézier curves, files, and custom brush options.
Not bad for a price tag that is less than three months of Photoshop and far less than Pixelmator Pro or Affinity Designer.
One function I miss is file compression. Fireworks has no equal on JPG or PNG files; highest visual quality at the lowest file size. For now, it’s goodbye, Fireworks and hello Acorn.