Cool Software App #3
More than once in consulting work, I've needed a tool to quickly mockup user interfaces to help client envision the screen interactions, data structures, and/or overall look-and-feel of a proposed system that I'm helping define requirements for. As I've seen it, the solutions to do that are basically limited to: 1) Photoshop (Fireworks, GIMP, etc) 2) Actually creating the screen in an IDE like Delphi, VB, or whatever, or 3) Visio, using the shapes intended for UI design.
Photoshop works, but in my opinion it's generally a pretty inefficient method for creating what begs to be created w/predefined drag-and-drop shapes.
Using the IDE directly seems to invariably cause issues when mocking up actual data, needing to be able to compile to get the actual screencap, and is usually too cumbersome as well, in my experience.
Visio, well, no offense intended toward Rob, but I found trying to design UI screens in Visio quite cumbersome, and the outcome results-wise bit less than satisfactory. (But in fairness, I don't think Visio's primary design intent is to mock up UI screens, and my work with it for this purpose was quite a few years ago).
So it's been interesting, and sometimes a little annoying, wishing someone would come along a create a tool to quickly knock those occasional UI mockups that can be so helpful in the requirements-defining process. Finally though, someone has decided to address this need. The app is still a little gooey (pardon the pun) from not quite enough bake time, but I think it's a valiant first effort, and at it's once-introductory price of $24.95, it was a steal. (Note that now $79.99 for the "personal edition," which arguably feels a little on the high side to me given where the app is at, but I'm sure others will think it's a bargain even at that price).
At any rate, I like it, and look forward to seeing where the author takes it in terms of development. If it sounds like something you might be interested in, it's called Designer Vista, and a 20-day trial version is available. You can check out more at the web site here.