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Wireframe Sketcher: A Must Have For UI Developers

12.11.2012
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If you're developing user interfaces for any application, you'll want to use a prototyping tool at some stage to get your ideas and workflows across to a wider audience. You may be tempted to go straight to code, which is more time consuming, or just draw things up on whiteboards, which get lost. Wireframe Sketcher  is a useful tool to have on your desktop, or even in your Eclipse installation, to provide a more structured process to your UI design process.

I needed to do some fast prototyping recently, with about 8 hours to work on some ideas to present to other stakeholders in the project. Remembered a review  I did back in 2009, I went back to Wireframe Sketcher.  It was good back then - and it's even better now, feeling especially fast.

Using the tool is simple: you can download a standalone version, or add it into any existing Eclipse installation. As it's an RCP application, you get all those useful features that Eclipse provide: integration with version control and simple project management, that you might not find in many other sketching tools. 

While I was focussing on a plain old desktop UI, I was really happy to see that the tool now includes mobile sketching templates for mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Phone):

So, rather than the wide open space that you get for your desktop project, this gives you a nice surround to get the idea of your phone design across. It's really simple to build up a screen, using items from the palette on the right hand side. When you choose a particular mobile device, the Asset section of this palette will display the familiar UI components that you see on your phone.

Getting a screen together is really simple. You can also create entire storyboards, linking screens together to give a real feel of the navigation.  Screens can be exported to images individually, or you can get your entire storyboard exported to PDF, with an option to run the prototype in presentation mode within the tool.

Missing components are not a problem - you can import your own SVG images to use as assets or you can group parts of a screen together to create your own component. 

At first glance this may seem like a simple utility program, but if you're serious about getting your UI designs right, you'll want to sketch them up first. For Java developers using Eclipse, there's no need to even leave your IDE.

Wireframe Sketcher  is available as a 14 day full featured trial, with single user licences at $99, and multi-user discounts also available.