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Top 10 Fireworks Public Beta Features

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The Fireworks public beta offers mind-blowing new features and some great improvements over previous Fireworks versions. Jim Babbage escorts us through his 10 faves.

The Styles panel has always been a place to generate some creative inspiration, and now this capability is more dynamic, flexible, and controllable. A key strength of live styles is that you can have a variety of objects of different sizes and shapes, all sharing the same style, that can be updated simultaneously. This can't be done with symbols and instances.

As Figure 13 shows, the Styles panel has had lots of changes.

The panel opens with a style library called "Current Document." If any styles have been used in the design, they're displayed in this mode. If no styles have been applied (a new document would have no styles), the panel is empty.

Click the drop-down menu in the Styles panel to display a list of style preset groups containing styles on a specific theme—pastels, chrome, wood, and so on. Choose a group, and the panel fills with the style presets.

As you apply styles to your objects, those styles are added to the Current Document styles, so you have easy access to the styles you've added, regardless of which set of styles has been loaded.

The Styles panel also has eight new options on its Options menu:

  • Clear Overrides. Clears manual changes to any existing styles.
  • Break Link to Styles. Breaks the link of a style to an object.
  • Select Unused Styles. Selects all the unused styles in the current document.
  • Style Options. Displays the Edit Styles dialog box.
  • Duplicate Style. Duplicates a style selected in the Styles panel.
  • Rename Style. Renames a style selected in the Styles panel.
  • Redefine Style. Redefines a style after applying changes to a selected object.
  • Load Style. Launches a dialog box that lets you load an existing .stl preset file into the Current Document style library.

Where does this "live styles" feature come into play? In the Property inspector! A new section has been added at the far right, as shown in Figure 14. (Note that if your monitor has a screen resolution of 1024 or less, you have to undock the Property inspector to see this new section.)

As you apply styles, they're added to the Styles drop-down list for easy access. Below this drop-down list is a series of buttons that provide many of the controls found in the Styles panel's Options menu (see Figure 15):

  • New Style. Creates a new style based on the manually edited attributes of the active style.
  • Redefine Style. Changes all objects with a linked style after applying changes to a selected object.
  • Clear Overrides. Clears manual changes to any existing styles.
  • Break Link to Styles. Breaks the link of a style to an object.
  • Delete Style. Removes the style from the Current Document style library.

The Redefine Style option is probably the most powerful of these features. Once you understand it, all the others just fall into place. Suppose you've drawn a shape for a button and applied a chrome style to it. Then you Alt-drag (Option-drag on Mac) to create some extra copies, all of which are linked to the original style. Later you decide you'd like to alter the highlights of the chrome style. You locate the live filter(s) controlling the highlights and make your changes manually. When you're happy, click the Redefine Style button, and all objects linked to that style are updated with the new look!

In older versions of Fireworks, this functionality would only be available in one of three ways:

  • Make the original object a symbol.
  • Select all objects before changing the style.
  • Copy the object and then paste the attributes of the object into another object.

The first method is practical only if all your objects are the same shape. If you're doing a lot of experimenting, the latter two methods become quite tedious. Using Redefine Style is faster and easier than any of these methods.

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