developer | thinker | tinkerer

Wireframe Sketcher - A Better Alternative to Balsamiq?

I love tools. And I really love tools that make pictures.

WireframeSketcher meets both those needs.

WireframeSketcher is a software tool that helps you quickly create wireframes, mockups and prototypes for desktop, web and mobile application.

If you are still laying out web pages by firing up Fireworks, or worse yet, by hacking code in Dreamweaver stop what you are doing and embrace wireframe mockups.

There are lots of benefits to using a tool like WireframeSketcher vs coding early or doing mockups in a graphics program like Photoshop or Fireworks.

  1. WireframeSketcher comes preloaded with a huge library of elements you can easily drag and drop on the screen. Need an input form? Calendar? Drop down?  They are already there!
  2. It's very easy to make changes. Does the client want to scrap the navigation bar and add breadcrumbs instead?  It's much easier to make those sort of changes in a mockup vs code!

WireframeSketcher Widgets

In the past I've used Balsamiq with great success. The two tools are very similar.

The big benefit I find  with WireframeSketcher is that 99% of the time I always have Eclipse open so there is no context shift to stop and open another program.  And since it runs on Eclipse, WireframeSketcher runs on Linux, Mac and Windows.  ( Balsamiq is an Air app and is cross platform as well. )

Installation is like any other Eclipse plugin via an update URL.  Once installed you can access both a well documented User Guide and a tutorial that steps you through the basics.

One feature I really like in WireframeSketcher is their idea of "Masters".  These are like _CFIncludes _for your mockups.  You can layout a login form for example, then reuse that layout in your other mockups.  If something changes you simply need to update the original mockup.  Nice!

Another nice tweak is you can alter the font of your mockup. So if you are not a fan of Comic Sans you can select something else!

It's also affordable. A license only costs $75 and there is a fully functional trial available with the following limitations:  a watermark in exported files and a reminder dialog that will popup after 1 week.  Certainly good enough to give it a try on your next project.

If you haven't tried a mockup tool I strongly encourage you to checkout WireframeSketcher.  Especially if you are coding in Eclipse for the majority of  our day.

Is it better than Balsamiq?  I think for the most part they are very similar.  The big benefit I find with WireframeSketcher is the fact that it run on Eclipse. If you don't use Eclipse then Balsamiq may work just as well.

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