Apr 222010
 

The sole 2010 offering in the USA of IDesign‘s Architect’s Master Class conducted by the man himself, Juval Lowy, is only a few weeks away. I checked in at the IDesign web site, and found some updates the world needs to see.

If you want to learn something new every day, start at the top of the IDesign Code Library and step through one example each day. Be careful, you might need to re-write every line of code you’ve ever written.

Apr 062010
 

I’ve been using the full desktop version for only a few days, but already love this tool! In just a matter of minutes, I am able to draw a mockup for a screen and start getting feedback. Here is a sample, a CodePlex-like UI, that took less than five minutes.

 CodePlex

Creating this mockup goes as follows:

  1. Drag a browser element onto the design surface, stretch it and type a URL and title
  2. Using the “Quick Add” box, type “tab” <Enter> to add the tab control. Type “Home, Downloads, Documentation, Discussions, etc.” and <Enter> again. Reposition the tab element.
  3. Using the “Quick Add” box, type “link” <Enter> twice to create a link bar for the top right and another link bar to be positioned below the tabs.
  4. Continue using the “Quick Add” box to add textboxes, label text, search boxes, images, subtitle text, links, and data grids. Type values and reposition.

This tool has a few features I find to be more compelling than the imitators:

  1. Speed - Being able to create and recreate mockups with such speed and usefulness really promotes a good prototyping/review process.
  2. Look and Feel - Having an obvious “rough draft” look and feel gets your customer thinking about usability and element placement and less about colors, styles, images, copy, fonts, etc. This makes for a very productive meeting involving customers in “the task at hand” and nothing more.
  3. Demo mode - Similar to MS SketchFlow, you can assign links to buttons that can simulate events. When entering full-screen demo mode, you can click on these links and move between your mockups as if it were a live site. It also has a large pointer (arrow) and always points to the center, staying out of the way.
  4. Good user community - tons of free extensions like wizards, toolbars, reporting chart elements, and plenty of iPhone/iPad junk for “those people”. I’m a PC.
  5. Updates and Upgrades - weekly updates based on user feedback and perpetual free upgrades. My emails have been answered within 12 hours, which is quite impressive considering the 6+ hour time difference.

This is free to try on the web, but you cannot save or export the images. You can, however, export the PNG with a watermark. Desktop version gives you some nice added features like copy/paste, undo, and demo mode.

Try it out, buy it, and love it!

Apr 022010
 

Check out http://www.balsamiq.com to see one of the best mockup tools ever created. I just started using it and it has already paid off. I have made several mock-ups in minutes that cut my development time in half. Having the ability to demo a new UI to users and change it during the conversation is priceless.

More to come - samples too!