For Web graphics work, some people prefer ImageReady’s very Photoshop-like interface to FireWorks’s obviously Flash-esque controls and interface. Fans of droplets—ImageReady’s desktop icons onto which raw images could be dragged and dropped to instantly output Web-ready PNGs, GIFS, or JPEGS—are also disappointed to see that functionality absent from FireWorks. Alas, ImageReady was retired after version CS2; FireWorks is its replacement.
If you prefer ImageReady to FireWorks there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t continue to use ImageReady CS2 even in an otherwise all-CS3 workflow.
Creative Suite 3 didn’t change the PSD file format very much, and ImageReady CS2 will open and edit even PSD documents saved from Photoshop CS3. The latest versions of Photoshop, DreamWeaver, GoLive, Flash, Illustrator, and so on will, of course, still understand images created by ImageReady, too. The only thing truly lacking is the roundtrip connection that enabled Photoshop CS2 and ImageReady CS2 to send files to one another live, locking the image from editing in the other application. If you can live with having to launch ImageReady from a dock or Start Menu icon rather than a Photoshop Tools palette button, and then having to use File > Open to bring an image into ImageReady, you can keep this great Web graphics editor part of your current workflow.
When you upgrade from Creative Suite 2 or Photoshop CS2 to CS3, you’ll likely uninstall the older version. During the uninstall process, you can customize the uninstall process, selectively removing or leaving Creative Suite 2 applications. Just be sure to exclude ImageReady from the uninstall; it will remain on your computer, ready to continue serving your Web graphic needs…
At least until Apple or Microsoft changes your operating system so much that CS2 will no longer run. That’s what happened to another Adobe Web graphics application, ImageStyler, which debuted at the same time as the then-standalone ImageReady 1.0. Unfortunately, ImageStyler never saw version 2.0, never was bundled with Photoshop, and never was updated to OS X- and post-Windows 98-compatibility. Still, you should get at least a few more good years out of ImageReady; hopefully by then Adobe will have incorporated your favorite features into FireWorks.