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Opening Existing Documents

Needless to say, you won't be working on a brand new file every time you open Fireworks. Often, you will be modifying an existing one, and many of these files will have been created in other programs. Fireworks can import and edit a surprising number of graphics file types from numerous other programs, both vector and bitmap. In addition to graphics file types, Fireworks can also directly open the text formats ASCII and RTF.

To open an existing Fireworks document in Fireworks, select File, Open (Command-O/Ctrl+O) and then navigate to the location of the file you want to open. You can also open multiple files by Command- or Ctrl-clicking the files you want to open.

In addition to the PNG, Fireworks can also open the file formats show in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1 File Formats That Can Be Opened in Fireworks

File Type


Type of File


(*.fh*, *.ft*)






(*jpg, *.jpe, *.jpeg)


Photoshop PSD



Corel Draw




(*.wbmp, *.wbm)



(*.tif, *.tiff)






(*.bmp, *.dib, *.rle)


Adobe Illustrator

(*.ai, *.art)


Encapsulated Postscript


Vector and bitmap metafile

Rich Text Format


Formatted text


(*.htm, *.html, *.xhtm, *.xhtml, *.cfm)

Hypertext Markup Language



Plain text


(*.pict, *.pct)


→ For more information on Fireworks and Photoshop integration, see "Working with Photoshop 7," Chapter 10.

Saving Opened Files

When Fireworks opens any of the files shown in Table 3.1, it opens them as though they were Fireworks PNG files. That is, when opening a non-PNG file, Fireworks automatically converts the file to a 32-bit Fireworks PNG, which enables you to use Fireworks tools that are not supported by that file type to modify the file. This is true even if the originating file is an 8-bit GIF or a grayscale image.

The only way to return to the original file type is to export, not to save, the file. Fireworks saves to only its special Fireworks PNG format. You can export files by using Fire-works' File, Export Preview and choosing a file format in the Export Preview dialog. However, Fireworks can open more file types than it can export to, which means that Fireworks cannot always export the files back to their original file.


If there is even the smallest chance that you will need to edit the file again in Fireworks, you should also save it in the native Fireworks PNG format; otherwise, all editability could be lost.

Opening Vector File Types

Because Fireworks is itself a vector-drawing program, it allows you to bring in vector drawings from other files and work with them as though they had been made in Fireworks. When you open another vector program's file, Fireworks analyzes the file and gives you a series of options for opening that file.

These options are presented in the Vector File Options dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.2. Most of the settings are fairly self-explanatory. At the top is a group of size and scale settings (Scale, Width, and Height). Because vector images are scale- and resolution-independent, they can be resized without any compromise in quality or file size.

Figure 3.2 The Vector File Options dialog box gives you control over how Fireworks deals with vector files.

Resolution might seem to be a surprising option for importing a vector file. However, although vectors themselves are resolution-independent, the canvas is not. Because the majority of Fireworks output types are bitmaps (GIF, JPEG, and so on), it is important to establish the canvas resolution up front. Fireworks does not rasterize (convert to a bitmap) the vector file; vectors remain editable, unless you tell Fireworks otherwise in the Render as Images category at the bottom of the dialog box.

The next set of options deals with anti-aliasing. Anti-aliasing smoothes the edges of vector graphics, including text, as shown in Figure 3.3. Anti-aliased graphics often look more clean, but they can contribute (modestly) to file size and can be hard to layer over transparent pixels in GIFs or other files that use transparency. There are options to both Anti-Alias Paths and Text. For text, you can choose from three levels: crisp, strong, and smooth. These options will remain editable within Fireworks, so you are not committed to them.

Figure 3.3 A comparison of a simple vector path with and without anti-aliasing.

The next category of options in the File Conversion section enables you to tell Fireworks how to structure the files. For multipage files, you can choose whether to open the whole file or just a page. You can maintain existing layers, flatten layers, or convert layers to Fireworks frames. Fireworks also gives you options for working with invisible and background layers in the source file.

The final set of options, in the Render as Images category, enables you to have Fireworks rasterize complex graphics. Rasterizing simply means converting text and vector art to bitmap graphics. If the source file has one or more highly complex vector graphic(s), and ultimately the file will be rasterized as a GIF, JPEG, TIFF, or other bitmap format, it is often advantageous to just rasterize these graphics now and ease the strain on your computer's memory. Be aware, however, that the graphics will be rasterized at the resolution that you set in the Resolution field near the top of the dialog box, and after they are rasterized, they lose their editability.

Closing and Reverting to Saved Files

As you would expect, File, Close closes the active file. If the file has not been saved since it was last edited or if it has not been saved as a Fireworks PNG (regardless of whether you have exported it in another file type), you are prompted to save.

Revert (File, Revert) is a common option in graphics programs, one that I have had to turn to many times. Revert is essentially a shortcut for Close (without saving) and Open the last saved version. Use this option when experiments, edits, or mistakes lead your file catastrophically in the wrong direction. Fireworks prompts you to make sure you want to revert without saving.


Revert is not an undoable action. Make sure you mean it before you click OK.

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