Finally, a possible Fireworks alternative?

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I think DrawIt could be the mighty Adobe Fireworks killer that sooo many people are waiting for, with that fantastic blend of vector tools and bitmap filters, but it's pretty unstable overall and specially when dealing with documents of 1000x1000px or more (which are used for web design).

I really hope the developers can overcome these performance issues, because we really need to get rid of Adobe's crap on the Mac platform.
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Shimoda

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  • frustrated and wishful

Posted 6 years ago

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Chen Luo

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Pieter said before that Drawit is not designed for huge document, that's the reason of the performance issue when doucument is very large...

But I hope this could be changed too, can 64-bit speed up the performance?
:)
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Shimoda

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I've tried a beta which offers support for Snow Leopard, but didn't work very well :(
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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DrawIT was indeed not really designed for such large documents. I continuously try to improve performance, but it's not an easy thing.
DrawIt 3.9, the SL version significantly improves memory usage and overall speed but I can understand if it's still not enough.

The problem is also that it's just me alone working here, doing all the development, support etc, I just don't have the resources the Fireworks team no doubt has.
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Shimoda

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Hi, Pieter and thanks for dropping by and taking the time to answer back.

I've been following DrawIt for a long time now, before the vector-only focus and all, and I think it has a great, great potential.

Maybe big documents is not what it was intended for in the beginning, but I hope you can also see the proverbial void in the Mac community for such a product, as exemplified in these posts (http://nathanpitman.com/567/an-open-l...) and the follow-up (http://nathanpitman.com/589/still-no-..., another initiative of mine on Get Satisfaction (http://getsatisfaction.com/panic/topi...) and quite simply in the real-life community of professionals.

The truth is there is no real killer app for web design; Fireworks is the closest it gets but it's so bloated and slow that is a royal pain to use, plus 80% of the features are irrelevant. You really have an opportunity to fill that gap much like Pixelmator is luring Photoshop users; DrawIt is a really, really good starting point in the right direction (except for these performance issues ;)

So please, take a moment to consider all this when thinking about the future of DrawIt. I'll be glad to help you in any way I can if any of this makes sense to you.
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Bfulop

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Just to say that i completely agree with Shimoda. There is a HUGE demand for a great web design tool that's designed for the Mac platform.
I think DrawIt could be the answer, you have all our support and hopes!

(I just bought DrawIt + Fontcase today, but i'll wait till i have some time to upgrade to SL - we're just finishing a big project...)
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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This makes me enthusiastic to try and expand DrawIt for this. Biggest focus here should probably be support for larger documents and more layers and a better slice tool I imagine?
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Benoit Deziel

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I'm this close to buy Drawit. I use Fireworks everyday and I just discovered your app. The major problem is the undo bug, if you have too many effects on an object, the undo doesn't work (using 3.9.1 on 10.6.1). If working with and larger documents and more layers is implented, I'll consider buying it. If you include a style library (instead of having to copy paste the effects) it will be a definitive buy.

Keep up the good work!
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Shimoda

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Essentially, documents of around 1000x1500 and 40 or 50 layers should be manageable. I've also noticed a single big element (a rectangle of that size with a gradient and transparency) is enough to make the app unstable. The slice tool could be improved, but it's usable right now.

Fixing these things would be a great step in the direction we're talking about here.

Thanks again for taking all this into consideration!
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In Like A Lion

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I'd say it should be able to 1440 or 1680 px wide, not just 1000, as those are standard 15" and 20" monitor res'. I may design sites to fit 960px wide, but I'd still like to be able to design my background elements the full width.

Pieter, I'd encourage you that you are standing at a precipice of opportunity, at a time when there is huge, pent-up desire of web designers to finally jump ship from Adobe. I used to see Adobe as a god-send, to free me from the likes of Quark (when I did print design), but now they have become the monolithic company designers are weary of.

I'm sick of feeling I need to pay for an entire suite of bloated software just to get bug-fixes. Each release is slower and more-buggy, with mounds of features tacked on, but only a few actually useful....

So, Pieter, I ask of you, take up the challenge. Take one the task of turning DrawIt into a killer Fire Works app, with fast, native OS X tech, and without useless features, like css export, that we can all be proud of. If you focus on making this app a screen-designer's dream app, there are hundreds, if not thousands of us chomping at the bit to give our money to a great indie developer who would give us an application we can enjoy using.

I know you are small shoppe, with several apps you're working on. But I think this is an important time to capitalize on catering to our need. Drag your feet and the market might become fragmented into other projects like Acorn. Yet if you can give us the must-have features we need soon, we could unify behind DI and give it the momentum to become the way out of Adobe's strangle-hold on screen-design.

Thanks for the work so far on DI and FC.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Thanks for all the feedback on this topic. I acknowledge that the biggest hurdle at the moment is DrawIt's inability to handle larger documents and a large number of layers.

I've been working hard to fix this and I had a breakthrough a few days ago. I'd appreciate it if you could try to beta enclosed below. It should significantly increase performance and reduce memory usage.

To compare with the old version, memory usage should now be about a tenth. The latest beta is able to open documents of at least 3000x3000 and with 100+ layers at reasonable speed. The old version of DrawIt would crash at this task. I'd appreciate your feedback on the last version. Let me know if you experience the same difference

http://www.bohemiancoding.com/downloa...
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Tudor Vedeanu

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Indeed, this beta version is faster than the current version. Thanks, Pieter!
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In Like A Lion

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Awesome, Pieter. I'm glad you've had a breakthrough and also that you seem interested in catering to this market.

Unfortunately, the beta crashes instantly on open (the app window doesn't even open). I moved it to my applications folder (previous DrawIt not installed here), and attempted to launch it when I got the above behavior.

I'm still running 10.5.8, so I don't know if that has anything to do with it.

I just copied my crash report and emailed it to you.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Apologies for not stating this clearer. The latest DrawIt requires 10.6 to run properly and future version will be 10.6 only. Do you plan to upgrade to 10.6 any time soon?
If not, can I ask what is holding you back?
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In Like A Lion

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Pieter,

I do plan on upgrading to SL. In fact I have a (borrowed) copy on an external drive for testing compatibility with my software. 2 things holding me back are time (I plan on doing full-wipe/reinstall) and $ - though the cost is low, it is not insignificant to my budget in these hard times.

But I will play around with the beta on my external drive at some point this week and see how things go.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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I understand, but I'm absolutely sure you'll be impressed by the beta. Just an example of something I posted earlier on twitter: the same document opened with the current version of DrawIt and with the beta:
http://emberapp.com/pieter.omvlee/ima...
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In Like A Lion

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Pieter, that screenshot is super encouraging! I can't wait to get time to test it out. Any plans for incorporating 'pages' a la fireworks?

I think you should host a poll for people to chime-in on what they found most valuable from FW, and what features they found the most useless.
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Shimoda

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Yay!

I've been giving it a quick test and the first impressions are good :)
I'll throw some more layers and objects at it and I'll get back with my experience.

Thanks, Pieter.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Happy to hear the first experiences are good. It seems that some of the criticism will be gone with this update (speed, big documents and memory usage).

I have had a request for multiple pages earlier, and it's definitely something I am considering. It's quite a significant thing though and will have to wait till version 4 I dare say.
Anything else essential that jumps to mind?
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Les Reynolds

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Take a look at John Hicks post on Fireworks for some idea of the needs. Also, thought I'd let you know that I referenced this thread in a blog post a few days ago. I've been trying Acorn, but it is really more raster based rather than vector, and after Fireworks I'm not really liking it.

Really looking forward to what you might do with DrawIt.
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Andy

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DrawIt is the app that will push me to upgrade to Snow Leopard.

I too think the web design community is primed for you to have a real hit here with DrawIt. We'll be cheering you on! Can't wait to try out the new beta!
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I'm aware of Hicks blog post yes. I'm getting quite a few questions these days asking whether DrawIt will take on Fireworks.

Probably the two most needed features DrawIt needs in order to compete with Fireworks are multi-page documents and smart objects. I might do that in the future, but of course I can't promise anything.

I hope you'll like the current incarnation of DrawIt though. Version 3.10 just got released with the aforementioned speed increase. Let me know what for you the top-missing feature is.
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Tudor Vedeanu

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Here is my DrawIt wish list. In my opinion these are basic features needed for web design work:

- Rulers and guides (the alignment guides are useful but I need regular guides too).

- A better way to handle slices. How about a dedicated tool for drawing and editing slices?

- Please fix the bug in the text rendering engine (there's already a topic here discussing this problem).

- I'd love to see numerical controls for changing leading, tracking and paragraph spacing (space before/after paragraph, left/right margins). Currently there is a slider for tracking, but it would be better to be able to input precise values.

- I'd like to be able to import layered bitmap files, editable in an external application. My favorite is Pixelmator: inserting PXM files in DrawIt would be great.
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In Like A Lion

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I'd say DITTO to all of these.

Pieter, looking ahead to a future where designers are looking to shirk Adobe, I would look at Pixelmator as an app to try to create synergy with.
It seems to be the most probable/capable PS replacement - not quite yet, but I expect in a year it could be a serious contender.
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Bfulop

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This is my future plan too: use drawit+pixelmator together for my work.

I'm not sure we need full pixelmator support though. If i can embed a normal flat image (jpg, or png) and if it updates in drawit every time i save it, it's good enough for me.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Thanks for providing these points. I'llhave to agree with these, except the last one. I don't think PixelMator support is that important. But better slices, rulers and guides would be great. Another thing I hear often is multi-page support. What are your opinions on that?
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Shimoda

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Hi, Pieter and everyone else! It's great that the conversation is heating up.

I agree with the need for a better slicing tool. Pixelmator has done a nice job when approaching this functionality. One thing I find myself doing a lot is hiding layers to export a slice with transparent background. You can't always use a matte to do this, and I think nowadays individual, transparent elements are the way to go rather than the square, flattened chunks of the old days. So an option to ignore layers below when exporting a slice would be a nice touch.

Pages has never cut it for me in Fireworks, maybe because of its overall misbehavior. I've had a much better experience with shared layers on OmniGraffle (the same concept, but works!), for example, or good ol' Master Pages a la InDesign (or the way OmniGraffle used to work). If done right, this would definitely a nice addition, but I've seen many implementations fail.

Better text support would be on my list too, with numerical tweaking like Tudor mentioned. I don't use guides/rulers/grid too much, so it's not a big deal in my workflow, but I can see why it's a common request.

The same goes with third-party image editors. I'm fine with doing my work somewhere else and importing a PNG. I'd rather go back and have some simple pixel-tools (nothing fancy: something to tweak some pixels here and there or cropping an image), but again it's nothing I would prioritize. What I would like to see is a crispier, hard pixel preview when zooming, to be able to really nail fine-adjustments.

Smart Objects would be a nice addition, but definitely not at the top of my wishlist.

Recapping a little... fast, smooth performance and functionality is number one on my list by far; then a better slicing tool, then pages.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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I see how that would be useful for exporting. However I can't help thinking it is not an ideal solution. Instead what you want is to export this layer (or group) alone. Hiding other layers, and then messing up all your other layers seems not to be a good idea
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Bfulop

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I agree with you Pieter, your solution is much more elegant!
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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So, thinking about it. What happens more often; Slicing a single layer or slicing 'random' parts of the document? Also remember that you could group related items in the document into one group and then export that group by itself.
What do you think?
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Shimoda

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Well, what I meant was not literally hiding the layers below (as in not seeing them), but rather don't take them on account when exporting the slice. I can see how exporting objects or groups can be useful too, but think about the following fairly common situation as an example, albeit not being the most relevan case scenario: you have a background pattern and on top of it a smaller rectangle with a gradient that fades into the background, which takes the whole width of the document and 100px height. You'd want to export just a 1px slice of that gradient rectangle, fading into transparent and repeat it with css.

Quite frequently exporting a single layer/element/group will cut it (pun intended ;), but 1px slices are fairly common too, for example.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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That is a very good point. So ideally, one should be able to tie a layer to a slice such that only that layer will be exported through that slice even though the slice can be 1px-wide. That is an interesting idea for sure :-)
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Tudor Vedeanu

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In my opinion pages are most useful only if master pages are allowed. Otherwise I can deal just fine with separate files instead of pages (I rarely need more than 4-5 pages).
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Tudor Vedeanu

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On the contrary. Master pages will be useful for anyone doing website layouts.

Let's say I am working on a website design. I want to do a layout for the homepage, and a few layouts for subpages. For each layout I use a page in DrawIt. There will be a few elements common to all pages, like the header, the footer and the main menu. Naturally I'd like to put them on a master page, because if I need to change one of them I won't have to change it again and again on each page. I'll change it once on the master page and it will automatically update all pages.

Fireworks does it using locked layouts - that's fine with me as long as it provides the desired functionality.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Of course, i understand its immense value for webdesign. But not everybody uses DrawIt for website design. Nevertheless it might be a cool feature to attract people to DrawIt for this purpose. :-)
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Tudor Vedeanu

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I'm sorry to pester you with this, but if you want to grab a slice of the Fireworks market, you must first think about what the web designers need, because Fireworks is primarily used and marketed as a web design application.

Of course, if you want to keep DrawIt as a drawing application for graphics and icons, that's perfectly fine, you know better what you want to do. :-)
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In Like A Lion

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Ditto to what Tudor is saying. What we're begging for is an interface design application primarily. You wont find success in our proposed market by giving designing for the web a secondary status. That must be the driving goal.

You have a great start in that direction, but if you don't take up the mantel of pursuing our market intentionally, somebody else will, eventually. But we're all here, cheering you on, hoping you'll be the one to deliver :)
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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Absolutely true. I'm beginning to like the idea of master and multiple pages more and more. Definitely something I'll consider for a future major update. :-)
Indeed Icon/UI design is what I am after with DrawIt and for web/ui design master pages make sense. Even for icons by the way, since they often need to be produced at different sizes.
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Tudor Vedeanu

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Another idea: a pasteboard for storing items outside the canvas (this was mentioned by Jon Hicks in his blog entry; neither Fireworks nor Photoshop have a pasteboard).
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This is definitely something I am working on adding. :-)
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Shimoda

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That could be nice, indeed.
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Pieter Omvlee, Official Rep

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This topic has become quite popular recently, thanks all for the interest.
The comment on the Slice tool i find interesting. Pixelmator has a nice slice tool indeed, but DrawIt also has one and I thought it is quite nice I think.

Another idea as suggested is to export individual layers instead of slices. Those two will be hard to combine I fear though.

And indeed, whatever feature I add, performance should not decrease and if possible only increase.