UX/UI: I’m liking WireframeSketcher…

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The prototyping tool I’ve been using the most?

 

 

 

I use just about every tool that comes out, whether for prototyping or removing duplicate MP3 files, because I am addicted to having the latest, the greatest and the most feature-rich stuff as soon as it ships. This is maddening for some clients, since the utility I swore by 6 months ago and they bought may fall out of my favor when a whole new platform gets my attention.

When dealing with prototyping, mockups and wireframes, I have several strategies for which way to go, what software is most applicable and what I need in terms of features and functions: large clients usually have a process and specific tools that are always used, and I adapt to their requirements.

Some clients have never prototyped, or have arcane and outmoded ways of doing things (storyboards on paper; Excel spreadsheets; Post-It note collages) that are both inefficient and unworkable: once I discuss the scope of work and capabilities a client possesses, we work together to develop a plan that specifies workflow, expectations, policy and (of course) tools and techniques.

Recently, I’ve recommended a prototyping/wireframing program to more than a couple clients that I only recently became acquainted with:
Wireframe Sketcher.

Here’s a quick video from the developers that will give you a sense of the product:

 


 

This affordable ($99/year for individuals; discounts for multiple licenses) and powerful tool is no-nonsense, stable and feature-rich. Most important for me, though, is that Wireframe Sketcher adds a third attribute that many other programs frustratingly can’t seem to get right: a UI and structure that is totally  intuitive. This seems like a no-brainer, but apparently the desire by some developers to blaze new trails leads them to create a 4-step process that most of us find exactly three steps longer than expected.

My quick list of likes for Wireframe Sketcher:

  • Extensive library of UI controls
    WireframeSketcher comes with an extensive set of UI controls. Plenty of buttons, checkboxes, trees, tables,
    layouts and flows come standard, and more are available from the developer and enthusiasts alike.
  • Customization, adaptability and agility
    Controls are very flexible and can be customized using properties and by applying wiki syntax directly
    in text. I don’t need all of the flexibility, but it’s nice to know options are at the ready
  • Interactive, exportable prototypes
    Whether in PDF format or online, the ability to create navigable, visually accurate prototypes is essential.
    Not needing a runtime player or relying on non-standard formats makes everyone happy and keeps the
    focus where it belongs: on the prototyped product
  • An application that’s also an IDE
    WireframeSketcher comes both as a standalone application but also as a plug-in for any Eclipse IDE.
    It’s cross-platform and has a native, fast UI for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Either way, both deliver
    without sacrificing anything on everything from quick mockups to large prototypes.
  • Under-the-hood stuff and innovations
    • Built-in ‘refactoring’ lets you painlessly rename and move files around without breaking links.
    • The flexible UI lets you take advantage of multiple monitors and arrange workspaces exactly
      how you want
    • Shortcut-rich: The interface is optimized for speed, so naturally multiple shortcuts are integrated
      to improve efficiency and make repetitive tasks less arduous.
    • The properties view is streamlined to maximize your efficiency. Standard-yet-essential features are
      all there, including grid snapping and smart guides.
    • Open XML framework with SDK: Wireframes are stored in an open XML-based format. You can easily
      store your screens under version control and use standard Eclipse tools to track changes and to
      perform diffs and merges when needed. Create your own tools around this format by
      using the open-source SDK.
  • Easy importing of assets and content: images, UI components and much more
    This is as simple and uncomplex as it should be, and the competition should emulate the way content is
    managed in Wireframe Sketcher.

 

Some visual samples of stuff I like:

 

Bottom-line: free trial. Give it a shot…

The developer offers a feature-filled trial demo for every OS and platform out there. Give it a try, and let me know what you think after you’ve played a bit. And of course, tell me what you think the best-in-class product is and why you think so in this space. I put functionality and power first, and brand loyalty has to take a back seat when my professional life is involved.

The demo URL:
http://wireframesketcher.com/download.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ever Wonder What Being An Astronaut Is Like? Try This Out…

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NASA recently released these spectacular time-lapse videos of Earth, created from thousands of photographs taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station. We’ve edited together the highlights, which include soaring over the Mediterranean, North America, the Middle East, and Africa. Keep an eye out for the red and green aurora borealis and australis over the poles, as well as bursts of lighting in the clouds.

All the videos are courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center, and the music is Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Major, Op. 55, from the public domain music resource Musopen.

For more videos from the International Space Station, visit the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

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Read the full article with more videos at The Atlantic Online…


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Boeing’s Dreamliner: Could It Make Flying Better?

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On Wednesday the “revolutionary” Boeing Dreamliner will fly its very first commercial flight. After two years in delays almost two years after its first test run, the latest update to the Boeing series will cart 264 passengers from Tokyo to Hong Kong, reports USA Today’s Charisse Jones.

“The flight is a coming-out party for a jet that reflects the biggest change in aircraft construction since metal replaced wooden biplanes,” she writes. The jet will supposedly revolutionize the flying experience with comfier interiors, recycled plane parts, and a lighter, more fuel efficient body.

But how can all this radness positively affect your flying life?

Lower prices: First off, the Dreamliner claims a 20 percent jump in fuel efficiency over other similar planes. It’s built with General Electric and Rolls-Royce engines, which are just more efficient, claims Boeing on its site. “Advances in engine technology are the biggest contributor to overall fuel efficiency improvements,” explains Boeing. “The new engines represent nearly a two-generation jump in technology for the middle of the market.”

The plans is also apparently 30 percent cheaper to maintain, reports Jones. “The Dreamliner’s unique makeup also won’t corrode as easily as other jets,” she writes. “The payoff for airlines is the ability to fly long-distance trips without burning as much increasingly costly jet fuel as other similar-size planes.”

Sadly, the airlines might not share that wealth with passengers, though. Yet, there is another way you could save money. A midsize plane, The Dreamliner might open up new routes that otherwise would’ve been hard and expensive to get to.

“It could pave the way for airlines to have new, direct flights between far-away cities on routes that otherwise wouldn’t have profitably supported non-stop trips on a bigger jet burning more fuel with so few passengers,” continues Jones.

Comfy insides: After ponying up big bucks, perks like nice seats and in-flight entertainment matter. The Dreamliner is at least trying to up its game. The interior looks comfortable, if a bit futuristic.

Economy class seats on board the first Dreamliner

There’s also an actual bar in the main cabin and the in-flight entertainment, which each set has, is all Android operated touch screens, as CNET reported.

The bar counter of ANA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft is seen after the aircraft landed at Haneda airport in Tokyo

Read the full article on The Atlantic Wire…