Where Fireworks and Flash are specialized delivery editors, Freehand is more of a general design application. Its tools are tuned towards the rapid development of many types of design, with many possible destination formats. While Freehand 9 can export artwork in SWF format for development in the Macromedia Flash authoring environment, it also has more ability to create standalone interactive SWF animations, too.
The SWF export setup dialog in Freehand 9 includes options for degree of path compression, degree of image compression, and whether text should remain editable or be converted to paths. There is also an option to trace dashed strokes.
Freehand can create SWF animations from either multiple pages or multiple layers. You're able to specify whether a subset of pages should be used, target frame rate, whether the movie should autoplay or playback full screen. There are also options for Flash version, import protection, and for vector-based printing.
The Symbol Library in Freehand 9 will be exported in the SWF, and so can be further accessed by the Macromedia Flash authoring application. Simple navigational interactivity can also be passed from Freehand to Flash. (Freehand does not use pixel-based glows and bevels as Fireworks does, so there's not the need to distinguish between pixel- and vector-based SWF here.)
The Release-to-Layers feature in Freehand 9 does help in some types of animations that are difficult in Flash itself. Specifically, you can set blends, layers or groups to release to sequenced layers, or automatic buildups or builddowns, or can animate these to create trailing effects. A line of text can easily be set to appear letter-by-letter, for instance.