Recently, Video2Brain released my newest training title, Getting started with Muse. I’m very pleased, through this blog post, to talk a bit about Muse, the title itself and share some video excerpts from the training (just to whet your whistle).

Read the rest of this entry »

The latest Classroom in a Book for Fireworks CS6 is now in print!

I’m so excited! I just received copies of my latest book on Adobe Fireworks. Hard to describe the feeling of seeing your words in print. But after months of conceptualizing, writing, re-writing, editing and revising, it’s finally here!

I had a wonderful editing team to work with on the Project. Sheri German, my friend and Technical Editor  (2nd time in a row) for this book kept me on task and was did a great job of making sure steps were accurate and clear. I owe her so much for the attention to detail she paid to this book.

Linda Laflamme, my Developmental and Copy Editor, did an amazing job of getting into my head, helping to to flesh out details in an easy to understand, but concise and personable manner.

And of course, Valerie Witte, my Production Editor at Peachpit, was super-supportive, incredibly patient and always there when I needed her. She is a joy to work with.

I’d also like to thank my son, Joseph Hutt (himself and aspiring writer and creative individual) for allowing me to use photos I took of him in some of the exercises in the book. Likewise, thanks go to my very good friend Tom Green, fellow writer, teacher and mentor of mine, and his son Rob Green, for giving me permission to use photos of them in the book as well.

I am very appreciative of the fact that Peachpit Press recognized the need for  text on Fireworks, where many publishers have not.

Thanks also to all those people whom I’ve talked with, griped with or who so generously shared with me their skills, opinions or sample art to use in sections of the book.

I’m very pleased with this edition of the Fireworks Classroom in Book. It’s the third CiaB I’ve written on Fireworks, and I feel it’s the best one so far. My goal with this edition was to rewrite as much of the book as possible, and refresh as much of the art work and exercise files as was feasible. I think I met my goal, while also adding completely new content and addressing feedback from previous editions.

It’s also a bit more of a personal book for me, because so much of the artwork – photos, interfaces, wireframes – are of my own creation. Many images from my yearly camping trip with Joe, Tom and Rob (and Marley, the camp mascot) appear in this edition, so while it’s an instructional text, it also contains memories for me.

Back cover of the book, featuring Tom green in a slideshow interface.

Back cover of the book, featuring Tom Green in a slideshow interface.

What is a Classroom in a Book?

For those of you who’ve not picked up a Classroom in a Book (CiaB) before, these texts are both reference and how-to manuals in one. Project based, they take users through an introduction to the software’s interface, and then get right into using the tools to produce content. In short, hopefully answering not just the how, but also the “why”, when possible.

While not a replacement for official documentation, it’s hoped you will glean ideas, workflows and tips from these books that you might not necessarily get from the manual.

If you’re interested in designing, wireframing or protoyping for the web, applications or even just doing more with your screen graphics for PowerPoint, I think this book gives you just what you need to use Fireworks effectively.

If you’re a teacher, I’ve also written a companion guide for the book to help you plan out lessons, and giving you summaries of what each chapter (lesson) covers.

If you pick up a copy, please let me know what you think. I would love to get feedback on the book.

My new eBook: Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5

If you’ve found yourself wondering how Adobe Fireworks can fit into your web and mobile design workflows, or how you can introduce students to a visual method of designing for mobile, I may have just the thing for you.

Today, my new eBook, Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5 and CS5.1, went live at

While there are already a couple good how-to tutorials available at the Fireworks Developer Center, I wanted to take a deeper, more practical approach to this new extension. I wanted to go beyond the how and hopefully address the why. I walk you through the basics, but then I move you to a realistic application of the extension.

You will learn about both parts of the CSS3 Mobile Pack:

  • CSS Properties Panel
  • jQuery Mobile Theme Builder

CSS Properties Panel

In the chapter on the CSS Properties panel, for example, you’ll be doing more than simply exporting a rounded corner rectangle as CSS3 mark up; you will be taking a completed web page design and – using Fireworks and a Dreamweaver HTML5 starter page layout – building a standards-based web page, complete with navigation, semi-transparent content areas and stylized text.

Final web page design that matches the original Fireworks mockup

The only bitmap in the page is the background image. And it was all done with a minimum of coding. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s pretty cool.

jQuery Mobile Theme builder

jQuery Mobile design, mocked up in Fireworks, then exported to Dreamweaver and previewed in Device Central.

In the chapter on the jQuery Mobile Skinning, you will study and work with the jQuery Mobile template file, also part of the CSS3 Mobile Pack, and learn how to customize an existing skin and export that new mark up over to Dreamweaver to quickly create a simple, customized mobile web site.

Time-saver in production and in the classroom

Whether you are comfortable with code or not, the new tools in this extension can be a creative and time-saving boon.

A designer  can export out standards-based mark up, which can be further edited and tweaked by a developer in their preferred web page editing environment. Or if the designer wears both hat, he or she can move quickly from a visual design to realizing that design in HTML and CSS. I think this is a great example of Fireworks bridging the gap between designers and developers.

And for students learning the craft of web and mobile design, it gives them the opportunity to create their design first, and then see how that design becomes converted to code. Or, depending on the design itself, learn about the limitations to be aware of when building a standards-based design that targets multiple devices.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

Oh and did I mention, this extension is free? Just head on over to Adobe Labs and download the preview. It will run in Fireworks CS5 or CS5.1. I think it’s awesome that the extension is available now – at no charge – rather than having us wait for this kind of functionality in a future release of Fireworks.

If you’re interested in the ebook, it’s available for less than $6.50 USD at Feel free to follow me on twitter @JimBabbage, too. If you’ve got questions about the eBook – or anything else related to Fireworks, that’s a great place to find me.

Written on November 8th, 2011 , Adobe Fireworks, Education, On the Personal SIde, web design, workflow Tags: , ,

I’m thinking about starting a new Fireworks training project, and I’d like your input. I’ve received some great suggestions from Twitter followers and I’d like to hear more.

What UI elements/workflows/features have always stumped you in Adobe Fireworks CS4 or CS5? Are there workflows you’ve always wanted to know more about? I’m here to listen.

MAX 2011 and pre-MAX sessions such as the full-day Education Summit gave educators many opportunities to learn from the industry, from Adobe and from each other.

The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote
The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote

Having been a teacher in Higher Ed for 20+ years, it’s natural for me to look at events like MAX with an educator’s eye. This is a perspective I hope I never lose, to be honest.

While MAX is a great networking occasion for professional designers and developers, it also gives teachers a chance to some important networking as well. They have the opportunity not only to learn new tips and techniques, but to talk to the people working in the industry, learning what skills are used, and what ones may be lacking. I think this is invaluable information; gaining this knowledge can help immensely when planning new courses, or updating existing ones to be more relevant. Read the rest of this entry »

If you haven’t already, head over to Community MX and see what a digital face lift can do! Of course, this new look is more than skin deep. Here are just a few of the exciting changes that are integral to our new design.

  • New Pricing: If you ever hesitated to join CMX because of the price, you’ll be delighted to see that you can now get the student discount of $9.99 a month all year, every year. Why? Because we’re all students in this ever changing business.
  • Graded Tutorials: If you ever had trouble finding tutorials that were appropriate for your level of expertise, you’ll love the menus of graded tutorials.
  • Better search: With almost 4000 tutorials, it can be hard to locate what you’re looking for. Photo collections? JumpStarts? CSS or PHP tutorials? Find them more easily with the CMX search box.

We’re running an open house for the week so that you’ll have a chance to look around and see if what we have to offer is for you. You can also download the stunning new CMX stock photo collection of 12 images from New York City, look at scores of JumpStarts, and access thousands of extensions, tutorials, and articles that will give you a valuable technology lifeline.

Written on September 13th, 2011 , CommunityMX, Design, Education, web design, workflow Tags: , , , ,


I’m very happy to report that BOTH my lab sessions at Adobe MAX are sold out! W00t!

I’m very happy and excited to announce that I’m speaking at Adobe MAX this October! I’ll be running an Adobe Fireworks lab, geared towards showing developers and designers how Fireworks can save them time using different tips and techniques and tricks. Read the rest of this entry »

Speaker badge for D2W conference

D2W Conference

In about 2 weeks just over a week, I’ll be visiting Kansas City for the first time, to present a couple sessions on Adobe Fireworks workflow and – even more important – hook up with many friends in the web design community at the D2W conference. This is D2W’s second year and by all accounts it’s going to be great. The range of high profile presenters, the incredibly affordable conference price and the networking opportunities make this an event not to be missed by anyone in this industry.

I’m looking forward to co-presenting with my good friend Tom Green as we walk through the workflow process used to create an interactive application based on our camping trips near Lake Superior. We’ll go from site map to wireframe to storyboards to prototyping and finally a sample of the interactive application.

Update: Tom and I have been promoted to GENERAL SESSION status! W00t! Next we’ll be touring the country as the Tom and Jim Roadshow.

My own session will be focused on using Fireworks for mobile design and development. In my opinion, Adobe Fireworks is still the top dog for producing screen-based graphics, be they for desktop, web or mobile applications. It’s easy to learn but deceptively powerful. And it can save you time (something we all need more of in this day and age).

If you’re considering the event but haven’t bought your ticket yet, hit me up for a speaker discount code. I’ll be happy to oblige!

I hope to see you there.

I was reading a post in the Adobe Fireworks user forum a day or so ago. Someone was concerned that Fireworks text controls were so limited that one could not create a hanging indent. Well, if you know anything about me, as soon as I hear a complaint or concern about my favorite Adobe app, I begin a fact-checking mission. Read the rest of this entry »

I just learned via friends on Twitter that my Adobe Fireworks CS4 How-To’s book is book #6 on Peachpit’s ebook popularity list.

Very nice feeling.

Written on April 21st, 2011 , Adobe, Adobe Fireworks, Teaching, web design, Writing Tags: ,

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