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.

http://iplotz.com

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