Fireworks in Layers: Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at | WebReference

Fireworks in Layers: Production Graphics with Wendy Peck at

Fireworks in Layers: No Frames Please


The Layers palette, the target subject for this article.

Fireworks is an interesting program that does not always follow the same pattern as other programs. This is not a problem with the program, but most often a result of the extra Web development features that Macromedia has led the field to implement.

So, with that as an introduction, I am going to start the Fireworks layers article by talking about frames. I want to tell you what they are, how they are used, and then tell you to forget about them. (It would be easier to skip the explain part and just issue a command from on high to ignore them, but who would listen?) Since the word "frames" often appears as you are learning about frames, though, I wanted to let you know what they were and why they have no bearing on this topic. We are looking at layers strictly as a graphics building and management tool.


The Frames palette, the feature that could confuse us in our quest to understand layers. Look at the tab menu here – frames and layers sitting side by side. Check the first image again. See the frames drop-down selector.

Frames, and why they do not apply to this article
There are two primary functions for frames in Fireworks (do not confuse these with frames in HTML pages – there is absolutely no relation).

Frames for animation: Frames are highly useful tools in Fireworks. First, and probably most easy to understand, you can build and edit animated GIFs with frames. One view of an animation goes into each frame, and the frames are played one after another to create the appearance of motion. However, you can also have static information in an animated image – maybe the company name never moves. In Fireworks, you can place your static information on a layer, specify that the layer is to share information with frames, and your static image will appear in every frame. If you check for layers information in the manual, or onboard help, frames will come up in your search for this reason. So this reference to layers really belongs in an animation tutorial.


The Frames palette displaying an animated GIF file. Note that each frame contains a different image.

Frames for rollovers: The other reference you will see, and this one can be more intrusive, is frames as used for rollover states. It's a pretty cool way to do it, and if you like to have your graphic program generate the rollover code, it can be very effective. However, when frames and layers work together in this instance, it belongs in a rollover tutorial. To make it potentially even more confusing – the slice tool always works with a layer called Web Layer. So, you have slices stored on a layer, and rollover states stored in a frame, and they have to work together ... Am I making my point?

Those are the two most common uses for the frames capability in Fireworks, and where you are most likely to see the reference when talking about layers. Of course, with Fireworks, I always put in a disclaimer, since this is a program that lends itself perfectly to the user's innovation. But, in the interest of fully understanding layers, let's just skip any reference to frames and assume that you are creating rollovers by hand.

Now that I have spent a whole page talking about what I will not be talking about, let's get to what I will be talking about. I somehow don't think any of my English teachers would be thrilled with that sentence. However, if they use Fireworks now, you can bet they would still read on. Layers are just too powerful to ignore.


Wendy Peck is a working Web designer and writer living in NW Ontario, Canada.


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Fireworks in Layers Tutorial Index

Fireworks in Layers: No Frames Please
Layer Basics
Working with Layers
Layer Effects and Exports

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Created: September 14, 2000
Revised: September 14, 2000