Introduction to CS6

With the advent of CS6, users have a choice of purchasing hard copies by downloading or by accessing the programs through the Adobe Creative Cloud™. It is necessary to understand how these two methods for purchasing programs work. Let's first look at the Creative Cloud. The Creative Cloud isn't only for accessing programs. It is a way to keep everything you do in the "present." In other words, as you create a document and change it, the change is already reflected in the document in the Cloud so that if you are sharing documents, the latest will be immediately available. The same is true with programs. If you use a tablet, you are already familiar with apps. Your work can be stored in the Cloud so if you are away from your desktop computer or laptop and create an image on your tablet, you can save it to the Cloud to be accessed later on your desktop or on any other appropriate mobile device. Think of the CS6 Master Collection as a series of apps. For $49.99 per month with a years commitment, updates and programs will always be available. These programs will be continually and continuously updated. New features will even be released between major upgrades. There will be programs that will only be available from the Cloud as well as services. If you join by August 31, 2012, you only pay $29.99 per month with a one year contract. As Adobe states on their website: Get the world's best tools, Store and Share, Publish apps and websites, and Stay a step ahead. Also, current Creative Suite users save $20/month for the first year on Adobe Creative Cloud membership. The offer is good for all registered users with CS3 or later. You can think of the Creative Cloud as both a hub for working on all your devices and with all your team as well as a storage repository.

If you are not sure what suite you want, click on the Comparison Guide link to see the list of suites and the programs that comprise them. Following this introduction, I will be reviewing the programs that comprise the CS6 edition of Design and Web Premium. I am using a downloaded version of the suite that is not from the Cloud. As I review the programs, I will include a link to the review in this introduction. Acrobat X Pro was already reviewed when it first was released.

When I started reviewing graphic programs over 20 years ago, one could be a generalist, i.e., be familiar with and use creatively most of the products. As time has progressed and more content has been added, one needs to be more of a specialist in each field, creating or adapting images, setting up layouts in print, and setting up websites not only for the desktop and laptop but especially for mobile devices. Then, we cannot forget being skilled in using programs such as Flash and all the video editing programs available from Adobe. Each time I review, I find so much material that is new and in certain areas material that is totally new to me.

If I had to describe the programs in CS6 Design and Web Premium, I would say they are all about designing for mobile devices, whether you are creating fluid layouts in InDesign or multiple layouts in Dreamweaver; speeding your workflow through more responsive interfaces and enhanced panels in all programs, especially the new interface in Photoshop and Illustrator; having even more integration between programs; and never having to leave a program to preview web elements in Fireworks or create forms in InDesign.

Review of Adobe Fireworks CS6

Adobe Fireworks is not meant to take the place of Photoshop nor of Illustrator even though it works with both bitmapped and vector images. It is more closely associated with creating for web development in all forms from mobile to desktop. Fireworks is integrally tied into working with interactive web designs. It is used to easily create designs in all forms for websites and mobile devices. It is used to create and/or implement vector and bitmap images, mockups, and interactive content for mobile devices as well as for desktop and laptop computers. One excellent example is the new jQuery Mobile theme skinning. Fireworks, also, has the ability to extract CSS code from designs and create CSS sprites from comps . One rarely has to leave the Fireworks' program to preview results. In this review, I will show how these new features work. Below is a list of the basic new features:

The jQuery mobile framework is a Javascript framework allowing one to create websites for mobile devices. In conjunction with Adobe Fireworks CS6, one can customize themes including background, icons, and the general look of the site pages. You can use Fireworks CS6 to modify the default theme through the jQuery mobile theme skinning feature.

Adobe sums it up by stating, "jQuery Mobile themes allow you to quickly modify elements of your mobile app, web page, and tablet app designs, including header bar, content body, and button states that you can mix and match for your themes." Everything you need is at your finger tips in the Property inspector.

One very time saving feature is that you can preview your pages directly in Fireworks CS6 by clicking the correct page in the Pages panel.

Below I previewed two pages by clicking on the page I wanted in the Pages panel and, then, hitting the refresh icon.

You can, also, in Fireworks CS6 preview them in a Browser that can be accessed directly from inside of Fireworks CS6.

You do not have to any more code manually. You can just export what you have created and Fireworks CS6 will do the rest. It is easy. You click on File>Export>CSS and Image, and you have created an image folder, an HTML file and a CSS file that can be opened in Dreamweaver or other HTML editors.

Sprites are images within an image so that web pages can load more quickly. With CSS Sprites, the image is cached once and then called multiple times in the code. One uses CSS positioning to determine which part of the Sprite image is used. Once you have created your sprites in Fireworks CS6, you export your sprite: File>Export>CSS Sprites. There are many good tutorials describing Sprites and how to create them. This is just one of them. Working with CSS Sprites in Fireworks CS6.

Along the same line, you can view not only the properties of an image, but the CSS code as well through the CSS panel.

Speed is necessary for routine tasks; Fireworks CS6 has optimized the workflow. Many dialog boxes are visible in the Property inspector such as gradient, fill, pattern, opacity controls, etc. Also, in a Windows 64-bit environment, Adobe states that Fireworks CS6 has improved memory management for supporting larger files.

As stated previously, panels can be accessed more quickly than ever. Now they are at your fingertips through the Property inspector. One example is Gradients.

Another example is the Swatches panel which can also be accessed from the Property inspector as well as from the top toolbar: Windows>Swatches. Below are comparisons of the Swatches panel in Fireworks CS5 and CS6. In Fireworks CS6, the flyout menu is available from the Swatches panel through Windows>Swatches. It does not show when accessing the Swatches panel from the Property inspector. Notice the number of added features.

There are a number of other improvements which might not be obvious until you use them. For example, when you have a button with text and a pattern on it, you can scale both if you wish.

System requirements


  • Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor
  • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2 (Service Pack 3 recommended) or Windows 7
  • 1GB of RAM (2GB recommended)
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
  • 1280x1024 display with 16-bit video card
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • This software will not operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.* Phone activation is not available.

Mac OS

  • Multicore Intel processor
  • Mac OS X v10.6 or v10.7
  • 1GB of RAM (2GB recommended)
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
  • 1280x1024 display with 16-bit video card
  • DVD-ROM drive
  • This software will not operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.* Phone activation is not available.

* This product may integrate with or allow access to certain Adobe or third-party hosted online services ("Online Services"). Online Services are available only to users 13 and older and require agreement to additional terms of use and Adobe's online privacy policy. Online Services are not available in all countries or languages, may require user registration, and may be discontinued or modified in whole or in part without notice. Additional fees or subscription charges may apply.

The cost of Fireworks CS6 by itself is US $299.00 with an upgrade price starting at US $149.00. You can download a trial, as well.

While I do not have the need to use Fireworks in my daily routine, one of the items I noticed most when comparing Fireworks CS6 with Fireworks CS5 was the improved Property inspector. Now so many options are available through the Property inspector. This should save a lot of time for users. The inclusion of Firework CS6's ability to generate CSS code and include Browsers within its framework is a tremendous time saver. This version of Fireworks allows individuals not skilled in CSS to utilize its capabilities more. In addition, many small refinements have been made throughout the program. All the panels seem to be more closely integrated than in previous versions. For more information look at the Firework CS6 features on the Adobe website.