The Firework Editor

The Firework Editor

Click Tools → Firework Editor to open the firework effects editor. A window will appear in which you can select different effect types. You can select one of the suggested effect types, but you can also select “New Empty Firework” to start from scratch.

The Firework Editor uses a component-based system, where you arrange different building blocks.


In the middle, you see your effect (click on the 3D view to play it). On the right, you find the building block structure of your effect. Below, you can adjust the properties of the currently selected building block.

The building block system

Similar to real firework effects, different components are connected to each other. For example, a peony shell consists of a lifting charge, a bursting charge, and stars. In the FWsim effect editor, this shell would look like this:

We have a tree structure of components which contain other components: The shell contains a bursting charge (“Explosion”), which releases stars

This system allows to create very complex effects. For example:

To build a multibreak shell, simply add several explosions with different times.

To build pistil effects, add two “Star” components to an Explosion. On one of the stars, set the “speed, relative to explosion” to 50%.

To create palms and similar effects, add tails to stars. If you want only tails, with invisible stars, then select the black color on the stars.

Effect Editor components in detail


A spherical shell with lifting charge. You can select pre-defined calibers, or define launch speed and diameter yourself. Based on the diameter, FWsim calculates an approximate weight of your effect. This weight is independent of how many components you add, and is only used internally to calculate the flight path.

Below, you see the maximum height your shell with reach. If your shell explodes before reaching this height, then the actual height may never reach this height.


A base component for mines, single shots, comets, and so on. You still have to add an “Explosion”.

Bursting Charge (“Explosion”)



To generate star tails, add a “Tail” component to stars. Each star will be trailed by a tail, which you can configure as follows:

Ascent Effect

Can be added to a shell. Creates a tail trailing the shell as it rises. The parameters are the same as for Tails.

Ascent Star

Adds a star which is attached to the shell and burns while the shell flies. The timing (when it starts to appear, when it reaches full brightness, when it goes out) can be precisely adjusted.


With this component, you can create roman candles and fountains. “Eruption” emits stars, one after the other.


Can be used like a shell, but is simulated as a rocket. Therefore, you get different sounds and a different flight path.

Catherine Wheel

A simple 2D simulation of a catherine wheel, emitting sparks as it turns.


Allows you to create your own cakes. These cakes can contain arbitrary effects.

Step 1: Setup an empty cake and select some effects

In the fireworks editor, click File → New → New Empty Effect. Then, click “Add Component” → Cake.

Then, select which effects you want this cake to contain. There are two possibilites for that: You can either add components in the effect tree, or you can click “Add existing effect” to add an effect from the library.

These effects will now be displayed in the effect tree, directly beneath the cake:

Step 2: change the ordering

After having added effects to our cake, we now go back to the “Cake” component itself, and change the ordering:

In this example, we have the following ordering:

The last row is empty and can be used to add more lines.

Using the slider below the list, you can change the interval for all rows.

Step 3: further settings

Under “Shape”, you can configure a fan-style cake.

Under “simulated inaccuracies”, you can configure the amount of the simulated inaccuracies. FWsim simulates differences in total length (“interval variance”) and in the timing of individual shots.

Shell of Shells

Using a “shell of shells” component, you can make a shell emit further shells after explosion.

For example:

In this example, the large shell flies 2.1 seconds, explodes, and emits 7 smaller shells, which spread out and explode themselves after 1.9 seconds. The parameters (number of shells, shape of distribution) can be changed.

Tourbillon, Whistle, Farfalle

These special effects can be added to an explosion, just like stars. Afterwards, number and shape can be changed.

Crackling (Popping Flowers) and Crossette

These components can be added to stars. As soon as a star goes out, crackling or crossette will appear.

How to create many effects efficiently (FWsim Pro)

You might want to bring a large number of real-world effects into FWsim. FWsim Pro gives you two extra tools to make this process easy and fast.

Custom Components

In most effects, tails are the most complex element. To create really realistic tails, many people layer several tails on top of each other. You might want to create one type of tails, and then re-use that for many different effects.

FWsim Pro 3.3 introduces Custom Effect Components. You can create one or several tails, and then bundle them together in one Custom Component. This component can be attached to other effects. It is not copied, but it is linked. That means, when you change the component later, all effects that contain this component will change as well.

To create a custom tail component, please follow these steps:

  1. Open the Effect Editor
  2. Create your effect
  3. Attach stars and tails
  4. Select one of your tails
  5. Click “Advanced” → “Create Component: Custom Tails”
  6. Enter a name for your component
  7. This tail, and all other tails from the same star, will be bundled in a component that can be re-used.

To create a custom ascent effect component, please follow these steps:

  1. Open the Effect Editor
  2. Create your effect
  3. Attach one or several “ascent effects” or “ascent stars” to your effect
  4. Select one of them
  5. Click “Advanced” → “Create Component: Custom Ascent Effect”
  6. Enter a name for your component
  7. All ascent effects and ascent stars attached to this shell will be bundled in a component that can be re-used.

To use the same component for another effect, please follow these steps:

  1. Open the Effect Editor
  2. Create your effect
  3. Select your stars in the effect tree on the right side of the screen
  4. Click the “Add Component” dropdown. You will your component that you previously created, and also a list of special tails already included with FWsim.

To edit a component you have already created, please follow these steps:

  1. Open any effect that uses this component
  2. Click the component in the effects tree
  3. Click the “Edit” button
  4. Make your modifications
  5. Re-save the component under the same name by following the steps outlined above.

To delete a component you no longer need, please follow these steps:

  1. Before you proceed, please make sure this component is no longer used by any effects.
  2. Close FWsim
  3. Open the folder “Documents” → “FW-Sim”
  4. Click “Effect Components”
  5. Here, you will find your components sorted by author name. Locate the one you no longer need and delete it - or move it to a different location on your computer.

Creating Color Variations

Often, you will want to create the same effect in several colors. FWsim offers three ways of accomplishing that:

  1. Create only one effect in the effects editor and then change the color while you edit your show.
  2. Creating copies of your effect by hand
  3. Use the new Color Variation tool available in FWsim Pro 3.3.

Method 1: Using the “Colorize” feature in the show editor

In the show editor, whenever you select an effect, you have the option to change its color. This is very easy to do, however it has two disadvantages:

Disadvantage 1: When you add price, manufacturer ID or other data to your effect, and then you colorize it in the show editor, this extra data will not change. Suppose you have a red peony at a cost of $20. The green peony costs $30. You only create the red peony in the effect editor, and whenever you need the green peony, you simple use the “Colorize” option in the show editor. Then your calculated price will be wrong. You can work around this by clicking “Change Effect Data for this Cue” in the Edit menu. But this is not very efficient, as it needs to be done for each effect individually. In our example, you would need to select every use of “green peony”, click “Change Effect Data for this Cue” and change the price to $30.

Disadvantage 2: In the example above, the name will be displayed as “Peony Red - modified green” in the timeline. This is not very easy to read.

Method 2: Creating copies of your effect by hand

Before FWsim 3.3, the best method of handling color variations was to create separate copies of your effect. This can be a little bit cumbersome. When you change something, you need to re-create all those copies by hand.

Method 3: The new Color Variation Tool, available in FWsim Pro 3.3

This tool is integrated in the effects editor and helps you create color variations of your effects easily.

How to create one effect with many color variations:

  1. Create your effect in any color you like
  2. Put #color# in the name. For example, call it “Peony #color#”. If you have color-changing stars, then you should also include #color2#. For example: “Peony #color# to #color2#”. These words (#color# and #color2#) will be replaced by the actual color by the tool.
  3. Save your effect
  4. Click “Advanced” → “Color Variation Tool”
  5. The tool will guide you through the process of creating copies. It will open up a list, where you can insert the colors you want - one on each line. If you have color-changing stars, you can indicate these color changes by writing e.g. “Red → Green”.

Location of effect files on disk

Your effect files will be stored under “My Documents” → “FW-Sim”, stored in one folder per “author name” (you can select the author name when you save an effect).

Using Windows Explorer, you can organize these effects into folders, and FWsim will keep that folder structure. Please make sure that FWsim is closed while you do that.

Please note that the name of an effect is stored inside the file. Therefore, renaming an effects file has no consequence.

To rename effects, use File → Rename. Warning: FWsim uses the name to identify the effect. If you rename an effect that’s already used in shows, then these shows will no longer play correctly.

Export effects as video (FWsim Pro)

To create videos showing individual effects, there are two possibilities:

  1. In the effect editor, click File → Export Video to export individual effects.
  2. In the main window, click Extras → Firework Database to export several effects into multiple video files.

Store custom effect data using the “Firework Database” (FWsim Pro)

Alongside your self-created effects, you can save arbitrary data (e.g. price, manufacturer). This data can be changed in two ways:

  1. In the the “Firework Database” window, which can be found in the Tools menu. (for several effects)
  2. Directly in the Effect Editor

How to configure which data fields are available

Click Tools → Preferences, and select “FWsim Pro”. Under “Firework Database Columns”, you can setup the data fields to be used (one per line). When you change these data fields, all existing data in effects will be kept - you will never lose data you already entered.

For example:

Editing data via the “Fireworks Database” window

Now, we can open the fireworks database in the “Tools” menu. Here, we see columns for price and manufacturer, and we can enter data into these columns.

You can also use CTRL+C and CTRL+V to copy and paste. Copy and paste is available for individual cells, and also for multiple cells simultaneously (hold the SHIFT key to select a range of cells, and the CONTROL key to select several distinct cells).

Should you wish to clear many data fields at once, you can select several cells and press the DELETE key.

Excel Export and Import of your Effects Inventory

In the Fireworks Database window, you can export all effects to an Excel file. You can make changes to this file and then re-import it again using the Import button.

Editing data within the Effects Editor

While editing an effect, you may want to change its custom data. To do that, click File → “Change Type, Caliber or Custom Data”.

The window offers the following options:

Display cost information while editing your show (FWsim Pro)

While designing your show, you might want to display the overall cost of the show on screen. To do that, you need to insert pricing data into your effects. You can only add pricing data to effects that you created or downloaded. No pricing data can be inserted for the effects that come pre-installed with FWsim.

To achieve that, please follow these steps:

  1. Click Tools → Preferences and select the “FWsim Pro” tab.
  2. Activate the checkbox “Display Cost on Screen”. By default, the price is retrieved from the column in the fireworks database named “Price”. You can change that if you want.
  3. Under “Firework Database Columns”, add the name of the fireworks column database that you wish to use for price. Normally it is called “Price”.
  4. Open the Firework Database and fill out the prices of the effects. Make sure you include the currency symbol, for example “23.50$” or “23.50 €”.
  5. When you create a show with these effects, the total price will be displayed in the corner of the 3D view.

This video illustrates the procedure.

Please note: In FWsim 3.5, it is no longer necessary to include the currency symbol. You can simply type a number and it will display as the default currency of your computer. For example, if your computer is set to German language, it will be “€”.

What to do if price information is not displayed correctly

  1. Please make sure that every effect you use has price information in the fireworks database.

  2. If you use an FWsim version earlier than 3.5, please make sure that this price information in the database contains a currency symbol. For example, “$ 22.5” and “22.5 $” both work, but “22.5” does not work. This is only required for FWsim versions before 3.5.

  3. Please make sure that in the Preferences, you have entered the right name of the column in the fireworks database to use. By default it is called “Price”.

Display Net Explosive Content (NEM, NEC) while editing your show (FWsim Pro)

While designing your show, you might want to display the overall net explosive content (NEC) of all the effects in the show. NEC is also commonly referred to as:

You first need to insert NEC data into your effects. You can only add NEC data to effects that you created or downloaded. No NEM/NEC data can be added to the effects that come pre-installed with FWsim.

Here’s how to add NEC data to your effects:

  1. When you create a new effect, by default FWsim will ask you for extra data to save alongside your effects. This might include Net Explosive Content, Product ID or Price. You can also access this popup from the File menu in the effects editor.
  2. When filling out the data, keep in mind that NEC must always be in grams. Valid values are, for example, the number “200” or “200g”.
  3. If you want to update the data of multiple effects, use the “Firework Database” in the Tools menu.
  4. In order to get live NEC display while editing your show, open the Preferences. Under “FWsim Pro”, activate “Display NEC on Screen”.
  5. You will now see NEC data in the 3D view while editing your show. If data is missing for some effects, FWsim will let you know.