iPlotz – a prototyping tool

recently I was looking for tool to help me in prototyping applications, I didn’t want to use the old-fashioned pencil & paper technique so I ran a search on the web to see what softwares are available to make my wireframe process more efficient.
Turns out there is a bunch of applications intended to do the job:WireframeSketcher, Axure, Baslsamiq Mockups, MS Visio, Fore UI, FlairBuilder and much more.
After doing some comparison and hands on experiments I narrowed it to only one selection – iPlotz.

Here are my impressions of it:
the first and most noticeably feature of iPlotz is its look – all the components have that “sketchy” skin to them. The visual design is very pleasant to the eye (unlike Balsamiq where components resemble children toys) and look professional. The overall look is if you just drawing with pencil&paper and that really gives the impression that this is “work in progress” and that this is not the graphic design phase, without the need for explaining – a quick look at an iPlotz wireframe will pinpoint you to where you at – “you are now looking at a mockup”.
iPlotz have a library of pre-defined components that will give most of us most of what we need.
I say most because right on my first mockup I’ve found iPlotz does not have a gauge component I needed. I have made my own image of gauge and imported it as a PNG file. although this is an appropriate solution my gauge doesn’t look quite the same as all of the rest of the components.
Using the components is very easy – just drag a component on your canvas, place it where you want and change it measures. Then later you can double click it to edit its data.
The “master” page concept is convenient and easy to work with – make yourself a master page so you can later use this page as a background for other pages.
When you want to present your work you can export it as JPG/PNG or PDF but if you want to make it interactive you can “publish” it – then iPlotz will give you a URL where your published wireframe is. If you have added interactivity to your work (such as links between pages) the publishing is the way to go! This way your customer will get a most concurrent feel of your thoughts.
iPlotz also have some more features I haven’t been working with: projects management, collaboration and adding comments from your peers.

iPlotz is far from being perfect! It feels more like a beta then a ready-to-the-market product.
While it is pleasant to the eye, very user friendly, and fun to work with it does feel a little sluggish, expert users may find this behavior annoying at times.
It feels “slow”, like sometimes it takes the time think about what you want to do.
There are a whole load of bugs that need to be addressed and a long way to go.
iPlotz is progressing very quickly and it seems the guys behind it are working very hard – it is being updated almost every week with bug fixes and enhancements. The forum is very much alive and replies from iPlotz stuff are coming right away with answers.

I really like iPlotz and will sure keep an eye on it to see where is it going – it does have a potential to be a best prototyping tool.

Oh and… please change the name to something more professional, “iPlotz” doesn’t sound right.



10 Responses to iPlotz – a prototyping tool

  1. flashmattic says:

    Looks a lot like “balsamiq” mockup, doesn’t it?

    • shemesh says:

      their intentions are similar – wireframe.
      there are on the web some head-to-head comparisons between the two.
      what bought me in iPlotz is the much-MUCH more professional look&feel.
      while iPlotz gives me the feel of a pro’ application, Balsamiq looks like this “Comfy” children toy.

  2. I think you should give WireframeSketcher a try. The look of wireframes it produces is bare but professional. Speed-wise I’d say it’s the fastest tool in this niche. It’s also based on a solid UI framework (GEF) which eliminates all those annoying bugs and quirks that you see in Iplotz.

    Master screens are much more flexible in WireframeSketcher and you also get storyboarding. One thing you might is the interactivity prototyping. It’s an area I will address in the future.

    • Andrew says:

      WireframeSketcher works on eclipse right? And what is the amount of memory that eclipse uses?

      • Yes. To be more precise, WireframeSketcher works on any Eclipse-based IDE like Aptana Studio and Zend Studio.

        The answer to your second question is – it depends. Eclipse has many uses so the amount of memory you need depends on what plugins you are using. WireframeSketcher itself does not require anything over the top and you should be fine with Eclipse’s default settings.

    • Andrew says:

      looks like you are a creator of WireframeSketcher. Why mock a competing product instead of actually competing?

      • Andrew. I am not sure what you are hinting at but I think this blog post is not the right place for this discussion. You know who I am so you can contact me directly and we’ll discuss this either privately or publicly.

  3. Andrew says:

    Just tried to install WireframeSketcher after adding WireframeSketcher to my eclipse update. Then came to know that i need gef and emf. Then when I selected emf eclipse needed jdt.core. Well, back to balsamiq and iPlotz. Atleast its simple and less geeky to install!

    • Andrew, if you need some help with the install the please contact me directly and we’ll figure your problem out.

      Generally the install is seamless and automatic if you use Eclipse 3.4 or 3.5. Just use the update site with the update manager and Eclipse will figure out everything else. There are step by step instructions that you can follow here:

      Sure, a desktop tool requires some installation effort. The same is true for desktop version of Balsamiq or Iplotz.

      WireframeSketcher does not try to be a tool for everyone. Some minimal experience with Eclipse is required. If you are better off with a different tool then good for you. However WireframeSketcher is an alternative that is out there.

  4. Fred says:

    I have Axure and ForeUI, they are all good. ForeUI is more handy but not so expensive.

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