Adobe Fireworks CS4 Mac OS X beta—UI hell

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User interface consistency is an important thing. When conventions are broken, users find it harder to achieve their goals. Apple has been guilty of messing around with its UI to a ridiculous level since Leopard’s introduction (and perhaps before, if you think back to the introduction of ‘brushed metal’ during the pre-OS X days), but nothing quite prepared me for Adobe’s latest offering, which not only smacks consistency around the head, but also kicks it squarely in the nuts for good measure.

To be fair to Adobe, some of its applications are of a high standard. Although I mostly hand-code websites, I rate Dreamweaver quite highly, and Photoshop and Illustrator remain excellent, if bloated, tools. CS3’s interface approach irked a little—not least with the Windows-oriented palette controls—but I dealt with it. However, if what I’ve just seen in the Fireworks CS4 beta ends up rolled out across the entire CS suite, I’m going to seriously be on the lookout for CS killers in the near future.

I started feeling uneasy right from the off, with the non-standard buttons and feedback in the installation dialog…

But then, the following blazed on to my monitor, nearly knocking me for six…

FW4 beta 2

If you fancy a quick check of steamrollered Mac UI conventions, there are: non-standard window controls at the top-left (although, oddly, other windows in the application use OS X’s defaults, clashing nicely); buttons in place of the window’s title; and no standard window resize widget. Also, everything’s within a single window, Microsoft Windows-style. Furthermore, the interface is astonishingly ugly, and while I might be able to forgive this kind of UI car-crash from a shareware developer, the fact it’s arrived from Adobe is shocking.

The worst elements of this UI disaster can at least be dispensed with. By deselecting Window > Use Application Frame, Fireworks returns to something resembling a typical (and more usable) interface. Also, I concede that the beta does offer one useful feature—the ability to resize windows from any edge. However, I’m desperately hoping user feedback forces Adobe to have a swift change of heart, or that it’s just a merry jape on the part of the software company, and the final product will in fact ship with the following additional preferences…

FW4 beta 3

17 responses to “Adobe Fireworks CS4 Mac OS X beta—UI hell”

  1. kermit says:

    Adobe is moving to something that isn’t conventional to any system. They want to create a “universal Adobe UI system” on their own. This makes sense for them. Only them.

  2. csbmonkey says:

    *heh* My first thought was “Oh, like Kai’s Power Tools”.

  3. John says:

    And here I thought they didn’t go far enough. Even with the changes that Adobe made to the former Macromedia apps in CS3, they still didn’t feel like they fit in the package. I was hoping that in CS4, they would finally feel like Adobe applications. From what I’ve looked at in Dreamweaver CS4, that app feels a lot more like it fits in the Adobe mold. It still has some Macromedia elements (especially in the icons and the palettes), but the over-all feel of the app is much more Adobe. And, honestly, for these apps, they work better in a fullscreen mode. Even Apple’s Pro Apps are all fullscreen. It makes you feel like that’s the only thing you’re doing. It blocks out the other apps running behind it (much in the same way WriteRoom does) and, it’s really a great way to work. I’m hoping they refine the interface some more (maybe even pulling palettes from Photoshop or Imageready) and make it really fit into the Adobe world. Plus, it’s still just a beta and we probably have quite a while to go before it’s done (there are bugs all over the place still). So, here’s to a better interface in the final version! Cheers!

  4. spinoza says:

    I’ve used Dreamweaver and Fireworks since they first came out many years ago, and in comparison to the UIs for the sleek new Apple apps the Adobe/Macromedia apps now feel very dated and clunky. Adobe has taken the Macromedia UI and hasn’t really done much with it at all in terms of real next-gen kinds of improvements; they feel like they’re in a time warp going back at least six or seven years. I must admit I’m using Dreamweaver less and less because it is so poorly integrated into OS X. Apple’s iWeb isn’t as feature-rich as Dreamweaver, perhaps, but it is a lot more sophisticated and powerful. For me the ‘killer’ Web-design app would have iWeb’s powerful UI and OS X integration with Dreamweaver’s professional feature set in managing CSS assets, etc.

    In general I try to avoid using Adobe products as much as I can because of their being so klunky and problematic; Adobe support is also the worst in the industry as far as I’m concerned. Acrobat is plain awful. Like everyone else I’m hoping someone will come out with an iWeb-Pro kind of suite that will sweep away the need to use CS4.

  5. spinoza says:

    I’ve used Dreamweaver and Fireworks since they first came out many years ago, and in comparison to the UIs for the sleek new Apple apps the Adobe/Macromedia apps now feel very dated and clunky. Adobe has taken the Macromedia UI and hasn’t really done much with it at all in terms of real next-gen kinds of improvements; they feel like they’re in a time warp going back at least six or seven years. I must admit I’m using Dreamweaver less and less because it is so poorly integrated into OS X. Apple’s iWeb isn’t as feature-rich as Dreamweaver, perhaps, but it is a lot more sophisticated and powerful. For me the ‘killer’ Web-design app would have iWeb’s powerful UI and OS X integration with Dreamweaver’s professional feature set in managing CSS assets, etc.

    In general I try to avoid using Adobe products as much as I can because of their being so klunky and problematic; Adobe support is also the worst in the industry as far as I’m concerned. Acrobat is plain awful. Like everyone else I’m hoping someone will come out with an iWeb-Pro kind of suite that will sweep away the need to use CS4.

  6. spinoza says:

    I’ve used Dreamweaver and Fireworks since they first came out many years ago, and in comparison to the UIs for the sleek new Apple apps the Adobe/Macromedia apps now feel very dated and clunky. Adobe has taken the Macromedia UI and hasn’t really done much with it at all in terms of real next-gen kinds of improvements; they feel like they’re in a time warp going back at least six or seven years. I must admit I’m using Dreamweaver less and less because it is so poorly integrated into OS X. Apple’s iWeb isn’t as feature-rich as Dreamweaver, perhaps, but it is a lot more sophisticated and powerful. For me the ‘killer’ Web-design app would have iWeb’s powerful UI and OS X integration with Dreamweaver’s professional feature set in managing CSS assets, etc.

    In general I try to avoid using Adobe products as much as I can because of their being so klunky and problematic; Adobe support is also the worst in the industry as far as I’m concerned. Acrobat is plain awful. Like everyone else I’m hoping someone will come out with an iWeb-Pro kind of suite that will sweep away the need to use CS4.

  7. Vim says:

    The single windowed mode is ridiculous, especially in a creative SUITE!!!

    Fullscreen modes may work in some situations (video editing perhaps), but definitely not in the web/print graphics world where you constantly switch between InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop or Dreamweaver and Fireworks when putting work together in a very non-linear fashion. It allows more freedom and creativity in the design process, tweaking elements as you go along.

    It’s also nice to be able to see an open document from another app sat just to the side/behind of the app/document you’re working in for reference and only the app in focus displays it’s palettes anyway, so there’s no confusion as to where you are. I don’t know how this windowed mode would aid that at all.

  8. Duh says:

    Jesus you retards are insane. I for one welcome finally not having fucking background windows floating in my application and accidentally clicking off of photoshop and on to finder only to have to switch back again.

    You primadonnas can fuck off.

  9. Wiley says:

    It’s optional you fanboy posers! Mac only exists today because of adobe and macromedia. Though I’m sure you’ll be in a lockstep march to overpay at the apple stores for substandard, untested software that deliberately doesn’t play well with other applications. But by all means don’t think for yourselves! Only do what your monopolistic lord and master Steve Jobs tells you to do, you d-bag iphone toting lobotomized sheep!