Auto Arrange Rows and Columns with the Spacer Panel

Posted in Extensions > Automation by Firetuts

When trying to auto arrange rows and columns of objects it can be a consuming task, especially if you need precision and granular detail. With a vanilla installation of Fireworks you have a couple of options, you can select an object and literally move the elements to the desired arrangement with the arrow keys or use the align → space (px) tool and tweak from there, John Dunning has created the spacer panel to help with easing the task of spacing elements on the canvas.

spacer panel- Auto Arrange Rows and Columns

Auto arrange rows and columns with easy and precise space measuring

With the spacer panel you can now easily auto arrange rows and columns by measuring and adjusting the space between elements. The spacer panel automatically calculates and displays values for individual spaces between elements by simply selecting the elements you want to measure.

Changing space values

Once you have your objects selected its a really easy step to change values, each value is given its own text field so all you need to do is enter the pixel value you need. Its also possible to select all or some of the objects and increase or decrease the value of space pixel by pixel by using the arrows controls on the panel. Finally you can hit the ‘=’ button and all elements selected will have the same space value, just select the field that has the correct space and hit the ‘=’ button and all spaces will take that value.

How the space values are calculated

One of the nicest parts of the spacer panel is the ability to set the point from where we measure each object. A Fireworks object can be measured by element value (with drop shadow) or by pixel value. Measuring by element value we use the whole object including filters or feathering. Measuring by pixel value simply means measuring from the object itself be it a vector or bitmap and not include any filters or effects.

Author: John Dunning


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There's one comment on for this post.
  1. This exten­sion is prob­a­bly the one I use the most often dur­ing a Fireworks design or edit­ing ses­sion. Unlike Fireworks’ native Properties Inspector, the Transform panel lets you do 2 things that I find essen­tial in my work. One (A) is to enter dec­i­mal num­bers for loca­tion and size fields (W/​H/​X/​Y). If you are work­ing with a trou­ble­some objet where a 1 px stroke is not ren­der­ing cleanly , use the Transform panel to move or resize the object by half a pixel (or smaller increments).