Price: 235 . 119 . 705 . 1195
Pros: New guides are excellent and beat Photoshop’s equivalents; PDF export works nicely and is handy for client feedback.
Cons: Occasionally hideous and buggy interface; CSS export isn’t what it’s cracked up to be; upgrade feels relatively minor.
Guides receive the best update: Smart Guides offer alignment guidance, and Tool Tips display positioning feedback when moving guides. Even better, holding Shift provides distances between guides surrounding the cursor, or between adjacent guides as the selected one is moved. Why Photoshop CS4 doesn’t also have this feature, we’ve no idea.
Elsewhere, most new features relate to exports. The ability to dump a site prototype (including links) to PDF should prove handy for dealing with clients, enabling them to comment directly on a design using the likes of Acrobat. The CSS export feature isn’t as impressive, spewing out CSS that would make a web professional’s heart sink. It’s OK for basic mock-ups, but nothing more polished, like a client approval version.
Other changes are relatively minor, and include asynchronous saving, the integration of Adobe’s text engine (along with a new and decent text-wrapping function), the ability to nest symbols. There is also now automatic updating of styled elements when styles are modified, which is admittedly useful and works neatly.
If it wasn’t for the bugs, quirks and general shoddy feel of this upgrade, it would score a little higher. But even if Fireworks CS4 was polished to the hilt, it’s still not a massive update, and dedicated CS3 users would perhaps do well to hang on to their cash until CS5 arrives.