Skip to main content

Mockups and Balsamiq

Balsamiq One of the things I think all projects need, even more importantly that detailed requirements (since no one seems to read those) are screen designs. Every time I have to do this for a new project I open up Visual Studio and drag controls onto the page and use HTML to lay them out. It’s not bad, but it sure can take a while. Especially when you want to just move something around during a meeting. I tried Expression Web, but it really isn’t any better.

I know you can do it in Photoshop and Fireworks, but, for one thing, I don’t have the money. For another, it’s pretty complex.

Then I was reading Tim Heuer’s blog post on Software Mockups using Balsamiq. Balsamiq Mockup is a tool where you simply drag elements onto a page and put them where you want. It also uses a pretty obvious hand drawn style which makes clear that both, this is all for demo purposes, and that anything can be changed.

One of the amazing things is that Peldi, the founder of Balsamiq, is willing to give away licenses for free to non-profits or people who develop open source software. I’ll probably never get to the point of contributing to open source stuff, but we are planning to redesign the church Web site. Heck, for $80 it’s really pretty affordable anyway, and I will probably purchase a license at some point. For now though, I will stick with offering a tiny bit of free publicity (nothing like Tim Heuer can offer).

I sent a quick e-mail and within a half an hour I got a response with the license key. So, now I’ve been playing with it, and I think I’ve found my new permanent mockup tool.

One of the best parts is that I can create the mockup, send the XML to anyone, and they can open it in a free Web based version of the tool (you can only generate an image in that case, not export).

So, if you’re planning to redesign or build requirements for an application, I have to recommend Balsamiq. It’s been so easy to use, and I’m really hoping it will make the user buy-in and design documentation a lot easier.

Peace,
+Tom

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Microsoft Access

I've answered this question in some form or another far more times than I care to count.  Most often it's a question of "why do I need a fancy Web application when I can just build this myself in two days in Access.  I mean, the data's already in Excel."  So I figured I'd post out what I threw together, I know I've missed some points. Overview Microsoft Access is an ideal solution for relatively small datasets and a limited number of users. From the Microsoft Web site: “As a desktop database, Access is well suited for small, departmental applications. These applications may start as one user’s project. For example, an employee realizes that productivity can be increased if a paper-based process is automated with an Access application. Other users in the department recognize that they can take advantage of the application if additional features are added. As more features are added, more employees run the application. As time goes by, more and more Access

Red-Gate SQL Compare

Every now and then I come across a program that becomes so ingrained in my daily work that I hardly know how I'd get by without it.  I'll probably break down a couple over the next few days, but for database work, I have never found anything as good as Red Gate's SQL Compare and SQL Data Compare .  Essentially these tools let you compare two SQL Server databases (all objects, users, permissions, functions, diagrams, anything) and update changes to whichever database you want.  This is amazingly useful for deploying database changes to a test or production environment (do it to production with ridiculous care, even though it will generate a SQL Script for you and run all updates in one transaction), and making sure everything is synchronized. For releases we can just generate the compare script, confirm that the changes match the updates we want to go out, and store it all in one place with the release details.  This is true for both the structure and the data, to

Beryllium Spheres

I'm sitting here at home watching The Shadow , easily one of the best movies made based on one of the best old time radio shows.  I hadn't picked up on this earlier, but the weapon used to destroy the city is none other than the same power source used to power the NSEA Protector in Galaxy Quest . I never knew Beryllium was so cool.  Now I want a sphere of my own. Anyone know of other places Beryllium Spheres are mentioned? Peace, +Tom