Adobe Fireworks is an image authoring and editing application. Originally developed by Macromedia, Fireworks was acquired by Adobe in 2005.
Fireworks is both a vector and bitmap editing program, with the emphasis on vector-based art. Its primary market is web designers, for whom it offers features such as image splicing, hotspots, animated GIF creation, etc.
When Adobe released the Creative Suite 3 lineup in 2007, it incorporated the Macromedia products acquired in 2005. Some programs were discontinued, including Image Ready. Most features from Image Ready were moved into Photoshop and/or Fireworks, but the change still displeased Image Ready users.
Some commentators were surprised that Adobe bothered to update Fireworks, given that its functionality is largely duplicated in Photoshop and Illustrator. There is much speculation about the future of Fireworks in this environment. It has to be said that the long-term future does not look particularly healthy — it doesn't make a lot of sense for Adobe to continue developing programs that are so similar. If/when it comes to deciding between Fireworks and Photoshop/Illustrator, Fireworks will likely come out the loser. Having said this, Adobe provided some cause for optimism among Fireworks fans by released CS4 in October 2008.