So anyone who knows me as a designer knows that I have a very strong love for Fireworks as a UI tool. I started using it back in version 2, in the nineties, and it is the primary tool that I have used in my career for designing user interfaces and graphic elements. I have never understood the love for Photoshop as a UI tool. Every time I have tried to accomplish a UI task in Photoshop, it took way too long, if it could be accomplished properly at all. I am a firm believer in designing in vectors and in using the right tool for the job. I love Photoshop, but for editing photos. Photography is a hobby of mine and Lightroom and Photoshop are absolutely essential to my photographic process. But for web design and UI work, Fireworks has always been number one, with Illustrator for more complex vectors and certain other tasks.
When Adobe announced they were not going to keep updating Fireworks, I was one of the folks that died a little inside that day. I had been singing the praises of this tool for years and now it was being taken away from me, with no viable replacement in sight. Then Sketch came around. I bought the first version but never really used it. Fireworks still worked fine and I didn’t see a reason to switch yet. Now it’s almost 2016 and I am seeing the bugs starting to affect my team. The other UI designer on my team at work cannot even get Fireworks to open on her system, so she can’t open any of my layered png files. I refuse to use Illustrator as a UI tool so that meant it was time to move on. Sketch 3.4 is now on both of our systems. Now the fun begins-matching up the features and functionality of Fireworks versus Sketch.
Surprisingly, I can find little info on the web to help Fireworks users transition to Sketch, so that is why I am doing this series. Giant issue number one: your Fireworks files will not open in Sketch as layered vectors. This is a huge issue. Folks like me who have been using Fireworks for 15+ years have hundreds to thousands of files that we can not open, except in Fireworks. How do I get my Fireworks vectors into Sketch?
Don’t try copy and pasting-they will come in as bitmaps. Don’t try saving as .ai, not if you want to open them directly in Sketch. You have to open them in Illustrator first and then save as .eps, then open in Sketch. I found a simpler process.
My process for converting Fireworks vectors into Sketch
- Open Fireworks, Illustrator, and Sketch. If you don’t have Illustrator, well, phooey, who doesn’t have Creative Cloud at this point? Try one of the other vector programs.
- Open your file in Fireworks.
- Select your vectors and go to Edit > Copy as vectors.
- Paste the vectors into Illustrator; with the vectors still selected, copy them from Illustrator.
- Now paste them into Sketch. They come over as perfect vectors.
One of the cool things about Sketch is the infinite canvas. I was able to combine multiple vector icon sets into one master icon set in Sketch because the canvas can be as large as you want it.
So, what about more complex layouts that include bitmaps, text, and vectors? There is no easy solution for these-you will have to do some cleanup.
My process for converting complex Fireworks layouts into Sketch
- Open Fireworks, Illustrator, and Sketch
- Save your Fireworks file as an Illustrator 8 .ai file.
- Open your file into Illustrator; you may need to click the Update text button.
- The file will open and all of your text and vectors will be there, but your bitmaps will have come over as x-ed out boxes.
- Copy from Illustrator into Sketch.
- Now it is clean-up time. You will have to either copy and paste bitmaps directly from Fireworks, or save individual bitmaps that have transparency. If you have a bitmap that is transparent, copy it and save it into its own Fireworks file, then export as png 32-it will preserve the quality and the transparency. You can then open these files directly into Sketch and add them back into your layout.
So, it’s a lot of work just getting your files into Sketch. I really wish Sketch would have figure out a way to work with Adobe to allow layered png files to open in Sketch, but that’s life. I have cursed Sketch’s existence quite a few times trying to figure out how to accomplish certain tasks. Hopefully this post can help others transitioning suffer a wee bit less.