Macromedia Fireworks is a graphics program developed especially for the creation of web based graphics.
I have experimented with many graphic programs in the past, and have found that Fireworks allows the greatest amount of control with ease of use and power. Some of the features that I have found absolutely necessary that are well adapted into the program are layers, special effects, the ability to use Photoshop plug-ins, and much more.
Some of the most unique and powerful features of Fireworks lay in the exporting of graphics which traditionally had to be handled by a third party piece of software for viable compression. Fireworks allows the creation and editing of animated GIF files, JPG files, and the new Internet standard file PNG (Portable Network Graphics).
Another powerful area of the Fireworks program is that all parts of the image are editable at any time. This has never been done in a graphics program before. Basically what this means is that if you get all the way through finishing an image and decide you don’t like a certain area, its no problem, anything can be changed at any time with no worries. For example if you make a spelling mistake in some of the text on an image you can click on it and change it around. This could be compared to automatically creating a layer for every single thing in an image so that it can be edited at all times without affecting the rest of the graphic.
As well as it all time edibility, Fireworks also has real-time effects. This means that if you want to experiment with a bevel you play around with it, and instantly see how the change would effect the image as a whole. (Some others effects are drop shadow, emboss, glow, and more).
The only major setback with Fireworks is the $300 price tag. Although it is a great price for mid range buyers (Adobe Photoshop sells at around $1000 these days), for lower budgets Paint Shop Pro is probably a better choice.
A minor setback with this program is that the constant edibility and real-time effects take up memory. When you have just windows running, 32 MB of RAM on your system, Fireworks still sometimes is only able to use about 5mb of that RAM. Basically what that means is that I wouldn’t recommend running any other high memory grubbing programs…. For example anything by Microsoft.