It was quite a while ago that I got the web edition of Adobe CS3. When I got it I said I was going to review the programs that make up the package, but I never quite got around to it. Now that I have had time to play with the components, I suppose it is time to fulfill my promise and finish reviewing the components that make up CS3. I've already written a review of Flash CS3, so today let's look at Fireworks.
Fireworks was Macromedia's answer to Photoshop, except aimed more at the web. Now that the program is owned by Adobe, who also make Photoshop, I was quite surprised to see that they were still developing this program and including it, in addition to Photoshop Extended edition, in their pro web cs3 suite. I suspect that this is more of a transitional release, to give fireworks users a chance to migrate to Photoshop. Still, the new features in the package are aimed at web designers and are focused on quickly prototyping a website. The big feature that I noticed was the ability to have a document broken into pages in addition to the multiple layer support.
To be quite blunt, there really is not that much that is different from the previous version. I still occasionally use it as I am more familiar with it than I am with photoshop so if I need some artwork done quickly, I will still fire it up. I am in the process of learning Photoshop so I expect that as I use photoshop more and more, I will eventually stop using fireworks. If you are looking for a cheap graphics package for doing web work, Fireworks is quite reasonably priced and is fairly capable. Still, the Gimp is free so if a painting package is all you need and you can't afford photoshop, I would go with the Gimp over fireworks.
Is there enough to warrant existing users to upgrade? Not in my opinion. At least not just Fireworks. If you are a Studio 8 user thinking of upgrading, I think paying the slight bit extra to get the web pro package over their basic package is the only choice to consider as you get Photoshop Extended edition and Illustrator. In my opinion, upgrading from Studio 8 to a CS3 suite only makes sense if you are a Flash developer or want Photoshop or Illustrator.