Visio Replacement? You Be the Judge

An Introduction to the Newest Simulation Tools

“In the same way that the Internet took us to the next level of interaction, complete with rich visuals, simulations are doing the same for application definition.”

Every decade, there’s a new technology that fundamentally transforms the way people do business, enhancing productivity and profitability along the way. In just the past few years, the user experience community has become captivated by the power of simulation software—the next-generation tool for requirements definition needed to build any online application. Think of it as the “flight simulator” for the IT industry.

In yesterday’s world, the typical deliverable would consist of a Visio diagram (composed of static wireframes) or a costly HTML prototype (still very static in nature)—the equivalent of drafting a car or a skyscraper in 2D. In today’s world, UX professionals can produce simulations—high-fidelity visual representations of what’s going to be built.

In the same way that the Internet took us to the next level of interaction, complete with rich visuals, simulations are doing the same for application definition. The advantage that simulations offer over traditional deliverables is that they provide interactivity without requiring the IA to know scripting or a programming language. Plus, with some packages, changes can even be propagated to all related documents.

Simulations can be used for ideation, definition, validation, development, and pre-development usability testing. Once a simulation has been modeled, its usefulness far exceeds that of any static wireframe primarily because of the simulation’s ability to look and act like the final product.

History
Simulation traces its roots to the aeronautics industry. In the early 1990s, Boeing used simulations to define requirements for aircraft like the Boeing 777 and to “test drive” requirements before building the plane. The automotive industry was also an early adopter. Manufacturers such as General Motors used simulation to test the effects of wind and road conditions in order to improve the handling and performance of both race and production vehicles. It wasn’t until a few years ago that the software industry started leveraging what many other, more stalwart, industries had been doing for decades.

Here is a review of the newest simulation products available to user experience professionals. (The list is arranged in alphabetical order, by company name.)

Product options

Axure
Product: RP4 (Product Tour)

The latest version, RP4 (there is actually a Beta of 4.3) has certainly added a number of new features compared to RP3. RP4 provides the ability to create a basic sitemap (indicating pages) and the ability to link these pages together. RP4 offers masters for rapid changes to an entire project. RP4 allows for basic annotations but doesn’t offer a robust requirements management solution. Of the products reviewed, Axure RP4 falls in the mid-range for pricing. With the addition of a true simulation engine, this RP4 could certainly gain ground against the higher-end products. However, at its current price, it’s a great entry point into the world of simulation.

Scenario Design: No
Page Design: Yes
Widget Library: Yes
Dynamic Display: Yes
Data Interaction: No
Decision Logic: No
Annotations: Yes
Centralized Server: No
Portable Distribution: No
Requirements Management: No
Enterprise Support: No
Export to MS Word: Yes

Elegance Tech
Product: LucidSpec (Product Tour)

Much like Axure, LucidSpec offers the capability to create static “prototypes.” The product does not contain an actual simulation engine, thus limiting the product’s ability to save and reuse data at a later time. The product allows the design to “describe behaviors” or specifications in annotative form. However, it does not offer a solution for tying a non-visual requirement to visual elements.

Scenario Design: No
Page Design: Yes
Widget Library: No
Dynamic Display: Partial
Data Interaction: No
Decision Logic: No
Annotations: Yes
Centralized Server: No
Portable Distribution: No
Requirements Management: No
Enterprise Support: No
Export to MS Word: Yes

iRise
Products: Studio, Shared Server, Manager, iDoc Express (Product Tour)

iRise offers a real simulation engine that allows users to save, edit, and delete requirements data. Of the products reviewed, iRise Manager provides the most comprehensive requirements management solution. Studio generates a portable simulation known as an iDoc, which can be reviewed with the free iRise Reader. Shared Server enables collaboration and incorporates a model for check-in/out capabilities and synchronization with the requirements management server. The shared server also provides an alternative delivery method, allowing stakeholders to view the simulation by accessing a URL. iDoc Express is a cost-effective service offering, where companies hand over requirements and receive a comprehensive simulation at a fixed price. No product purchase or installation is required. This is by far the most mature product in this space, with the most extensive list of recognizable customer names.

Scenario Design: Yes
Page Design: Yes
Widget Library: Yes
Dynamic Display: Yes
Data Interaction: Yes
Decision Logic: Yes
Annotations: Yes
Centralized Server: Yes
Portable Distribution: Yes
Requirements Management: Yes
Enterprise Support: Yes
Export to MS Word: Yes

Serena
Product: Composer (Product Tour)

Composer fits at the lower end of the higher tier products. It offers the ability to model business processes at a very high level much like MS Visio. It then extends that ability to creating activities and detailed page designs. Composer provides greater support for requirements management; it is probably closer to iRise than any other tool. The challenge with Composer is that all users must own a licensed seat to view anything created within the product; this really limits the ability to share with stakeholders.

Scenario Design: Yes
Page Design: Yes
Widget Library: Yes
Dynamic Display: Partial
Data Interaction: Partial
Decision Logic: No
Annotations: Yes
Centralized Server: No
Portable Distribution: No
Requirements Management: Partial
Enterprise Support: No
Export to MS Word: Yes

Simunication
Product: Enterprise Simulator (Product Tour)

Simunication is all web based. This is most likely the product’s biggest advantage over some of the lower- and middle-tier applications. Its interface, however, is quite cumbersome for the non-technical user. It offers the ability to simulate data through a scaled-down simulation engine. The workflow is driven primarily by creating use cases, then designing screens around those cases. Delivery is simplified by its all-online approach—thus anyone with a web browser can access it.

Scenario Design: Yes
Page Design: Yes
Widget Library: No
Dynamic Display: Yes
Data Interaction: Yes
Decision Logic: Yes
Annotations: Yes
Centralized Server: Yes
Portable Distribution: No
Requirements Management: No
Enterprise Support: Yes
Export to MS Word: No

Sofea
Product(s): Profesy

Profesy is comparable to Composer in product maturity. It offers requirements management with a scaled-down simulation engine. Much like Composer, there isn’t an easy way to distribute the simulation outside of the tool/editor in which it was created.

Scenario Design: No
Page Design: Yes
Widget Library: No
Dynamic Display: Partial
Data Interaction: Partial
Decision Logic: Yes
Annotations: Yes
Centralized Server: No
Portable Distribution: No
Requirements Management: Yes
Enterprise Support: Yes
Export to MS Word: Yes

Benefits to the user experience professional
User experience professionals who leverage simulation technology are able to visualize projects much earlier within the development lifecycle, while producing requirements that are much clearer than those generated through traditional requirements gathering processes. In fact, two of these packages, iRise and Serena, were actually created to help business analysts visualize requirements when they didn’t have access to user experience professionals for that part of a project!

One key feature that static wireframes lack is the ability to interact with the interface; by using a simulation tool, this limitation is removed. Software interactivity and ease-of-use, in addition to the portability and reusability of the simulation, are key points to consider in choosing the right simulation software for your company. The next several years should be quite interesting as each of these products continues to improve, adding new features and offering tighter integration with third-party products.

Posted in Reviews, Software and Tools | 35 Comments »

35 Comments

  • ji kim

    November 15, 2006 at 8:14 am

    I think lot of the tools mention above are pretty good tools for simulating websites or webapplications with basic UI interation….but I think they still lack ability to effectively simulate rich internet or desktop applications…..I guess I’m still stuck prototyping with visio, photoshop, snagit, and powerpoint :)

    Note: I’m always little skeptical about these tool vendors who claim to provide solutions to everything…..to me, a good prototyper should be able to use just about anything – long as they could do it fast and get their point across effectively to their audience. I still think paper/pen is still pretty good :)

  • Giles Colborne

    November 15, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    Man, I miss HyperCard.

  • Dave Malouf

    November 15, 2006 at 4:31 pm

    Other tool offerings that do “prototyping” (Where in the world did the term “simulators” come from for UX designers?

    Adobe Flash/Flex: You can create data sets in XML, and generate real elaborate interactions.

    (upcoming)
    Microsoft Expression: Interactive Designer: Just like Flash but for WPF/E.

    These simulators for the most part–the ones mentioned above–differ from the tools I mention here in that they are also document management systems or have some connectivity to a document.

  • Fred Beecher

    November 15, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    Ji,

    I’ve been using Axure for a relatively long while now and I can tell you that there is pretty much no interaction I can’t prototype in that tool outside of drag and drop. There is a lot of facility for making the pages highly interactive without page loads, and this has allowed me to get a good idea of how usable an interaction is before it’s been fully designed.

    Scott, there are a few inaccuracies in your discussion of Axure’s features. First, it does include a facility for creating page flows (scenario design). Admittedly, it’s rudimentary, but it’s been good enough for my purposes. Second, it does allow for limited data interaction. Axure has one page variable that it can play with, and you can make user interactions set the value of this variable. You can then set interactive elements on the page to react to this variable.

    Regarding Axure as a Visio replacement, it *has* replaced Visio for me, nearly. The only thing I continue to use Visio for is site maps. And that’s fine with me. : )

    One more thing… I think it’s important to note the cost of iRise… while it is a really excellent tool, it costs around $150,000. I’m not kidding and that’s not a typo. My company was looking into that vs. Axure and we contacted a rep who gave us this figure. We are no longer looking at iRise. : )

  • Uri Kochavi

    November 15, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    My experience is very similar to Fred’s, and I agree with what he said. We too sat in an iRise demo, and the quote we got was 50k to half a mil!!
    For my money (well, not really mine..) Axure delivers so much more bang for the buck. Not that iRise is not impressive – and yes, I’d love the DB connectivity + logic and all, but I think Axure nailed the famous 80% of the use cases for 80% of the users, and for the right price. It is, however, primarily for web apps, and when I had to mock up a rich client recently I had to return to Visio ;-(
    you can simulate some AJAX with it, too.

    The best thing about Axure:
    very easy to learn and use, I was productive since day 1
    the worst thing:
    it produces really big HTML files, so try to keep them short

  • Anders Ramsay

    November 15, 2006 at 10:38 pm

    Very interesting article. While I think there certainly is something to be said for simulation tools, I have personal experience with several of these tools, including iRise, which I used for designing enterprise apps as an in-house IA at a multinational. First, re. the price, it does not have to be as high as 150K. Our package ran about 50K, which still is an astronomical sum (though not necessarily for a multinational or other large corp, which is a key demographic for iRise) – though packages can run up to 250k (which is what I was told Yahoo paid back in the day for an earlier version of the system.)

    While iRise in many ways is very powerful, I ultimately found that it’s key value was in being able to rapidly communicate a new concept. In other words, it worked when part of the early stages of an IKIWISI (I Know It When I See It) requirements gathering model, in which a design was sort of grokked from a set of high-level business requirements, and then I just cranked out a functioning simulation in a day or two, to which stakeholders then responded. *However*, when the proof of concept phase was completed, and time came to actually get into detailed design, it turned out to be far more effective to just whiteboard stuff and return to doing wireframes (either visio or xhtml or flash or some other combination of tools) in collaboration with designers and developers. Why? Well, there are many reasons…

    One huge reason was that we found prototyping the functionality in the actual target environment to ultimately be a far beneficial approach. In doing so, we were not only validating the user experience, but also validating the technology.

    This is maybe an even bigger reason: at least from my experience, these simulators by and large are not capable of rapidly prototyping ajax functionality or other highly customized interaction design in which things refresh at the element level or animate or whatever, which for me, is an essential component of modern interaction design – for that reason, they may become a constraining factor, since one might only consider design options that the simulator supports.

  • Jesper Rønn-Jensen

    November 15, 2006 at 11:44 pm

    For the more technical people I can highly recommend to use Ruby on Rails as a rapid prototyping tool.

    As Anders Ramsay points out, tools like iRise have a hard time in prototyping AJAX functionality. Here Ruby on Rails is the star. Because of the built-in possibilities to easy add autocomplete widgets, drag-n-drop interface and more.

    I wrote about how we use it at work on my blog justaddwater.dk:

    Justaddwater.dk: Ruby on Rails as a Rapid Prototyping Tool

  • Patrick Stapleton

    November 16, 2006 at 12:51 am

    From my exploration of this area, I would agree Axzure has the best bang for the buck. However my perception is that Composer has the most potential to be a comprehensive simulation through documentation system.

    But then AJAX throws a big stick in the works and currently I’m leaning toward Microsoft’s Expression Interactive Designer which from what I’ve seen to date is the most interesting RIA development tool out there. In fact even the Expression Graphic Designer tool is an eye opener – effectively replacing both Illustrator and Photoshop in the one tool (with decent web integration) and currently for free!

    Adobe the guys who you would have expected to lead in the simulation space (but have yet to step in) are likely to miss the boat – again :)

  • laurie gray

    November 16, 2006 at 5:16 am

    Great article Scott!

    As a former user of Axure and current user of iRise, I think the price point discussions are appropriate and highly necessary. As a solo practitioner in-house, where most everything I did was viewed as 100% overhead, Axure did what I needed it to do and it did it well. The price point at purchase was around $500. We also were not doing a lot of work with RIA’s.

    Now that I’m back in the consulting world, I’m fortunate to have access to iRise. It’s much more robust than Axure. My view is that it is the enterprise level equivalent and Axure is more of the smaller shop version.

    There are things I could do in Axure that I cannot do in iRise and vice versa. I would imagine that convergence of these tools or the features of these tools will be something to watch in the future.

  • Michael Hughes

    November 16, 2006 at 12:11 pm

    Good article, Scott. I too am in the Axure camp because what I really need is a wireframe/mid-fidelity prototyping tool. I think it is a good gateway tool to some of the more robust requirements management tools discussed in this article. I have found with Axure, that I must have external ways to link my designs back to requirements and to use case elaborations. Tools like i-rise seem pricey if compared to Visio and Axure, but it must be compared to fuller requirments management suites, such as Rationale.

  • Pauric Pauric

    November 16, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    I would just like to give a nod to Omnigraffle. While its not on par with the likes of Axure, its a very nice combination of vector drawing, stencils functionality and layers. Sort of visio meets illustrator, without all the visio nuances.

    http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnigraffle/

    Excellent for flow defs, worth a look for wireframes on a budget. No interaction capabilites.

  • Jonathan Baker-Bates

    November 16, 2006 at 6:36 pm

    This is a very useful article. The only thing I’d say about it though is that it, in common with many other discussions of these tools, concentrates primarily on their value for prototyping software. I have been following Axure’s development closely, but not because of the product’s prototyping abilities. After all, I can prototype in just about anything – somebody here mentioned Hypercard, then there’s Dreamweaver, Flash, Powerpoint, etc. etc.

    All this is, in my opinion, just noise. The real prize that tools like Axure hold out the possibility of attaining is that of being an “IDE for Experience Design.” Such a tool that lets us as IA/UX professionals communicate programatically with developers and designers via XML. It would seem to me to be a relatively small step from producing modularised screen designs as Word documents to XML schemas “describing” our designs that could then be used by other tools or systems to interpret those designs.

    My worry is that Microsoft is stealing a potentially very powerful march in this area with Expression and XAML, but in being distracted by prototyping, the IA community is not stimulating non-MSFT vendors in the right direction.

  • Jacco Nieuwland

    November 17, 2006 at 8:58 am

    Great article, I really wish I had more time to check out some of these tools for myself. I’ve been dealing with prototypes a lot more over the last year as well, and have found that certain ideas and solutions are much better communicated though an interactive demonstration than through the paper wireframes.

    One other solution that wasn’t covered in the article is a sort of halfway solution between static wireframes and fully interactive prototypes. I’ve created swirp to do just that. You create your sitemaps/screenflows wireframes in the standard way using visio, but you then you press the magic button and out comes an interactive HTML prototype. Definitely not HiFi, it can only be used to show navigation concepts (no text input etc.). But it does provide all the benefits that Visio gives you (perfect prints, annotations, multiple documents so more than one designer can work on it, etc). Check it out at swipr.com (free & open source!).

    In the end it probably all boils down to the right tool for the right job. And time and money restrictions are always a problem, of course.

  • Bryan MacLean

    November 17, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    I’m with Simunication and have talked with many different companies regarding simulation & prototyping. I am a developer/analyst by trade and I’d like to share some observations …with my Simunication hat off :-)

    Firstly, I agree with Scott that there is no doubt that simulation/prototyping tools are real, effective and here to stay. It’s a reflection of the maturing process of the ~20 year old enterprise/web software industry. It took a century for airplane, auto and manufacturing sectors to mature processes like simulation.

    I think what will be interesting to see is how the role of simulation will evolve in app development. In regards to this forum, the BA role was created to fill a communication gap between computer programmers and the business users yet we still have an endemic requirements problem. This is not a reflection on the BA’s competence, as many other factors come into play as we know. Now viewed from another level, the BA is now being asked to perform the role of computer programmers to build simulations, now “possible” with the support of these new tools. Will that work better? Maybe?

    Now throw in new methodologies like Agile with developers typically programming a prototype with the intention to evolve and refactor it into the end application. This prototype is developed in short increments and reviewed constantly with the stakeholder to address inevitable changing requirements. Will that work better? Maybe?

    I think the combination of these two approaches suggest the following to increase the project success rate:
    1.) an interative process with customer involvement is necessary
    2.) a prototype or simulation be developed in the elaboration phase, nothing beats this to flush out user requirements
    3.) the simulation tool must support that a user could be any of the following, BA,UX, IA, Architect, developer, etc. with the nature and risk level of the project dictating the skills required to build a simulation that ultimately will put the customer at ease at signoff
    4.) the simulation can’t be thrown away and minimally must export real assets for development, in the future maybe even evolvable into the final application

    If I was starting a software project, there is no question I would simulate or prototype first. My tool considerations if I was new to simulation would be both short and long term. In the short term, I’d try several tools on several projects, and insist with vendors on a free trial of a month or two. There is a relatively low learning curve to most tools and little risk of jeopardizing a project. After trying a project or two then you can see what features work for your own particular environment.

    Long term I suspect the following feature questions will weigh heavily on product choice: Do you need true interactive data driven simulations or dynamic screen flows? Will you mainly be creating high or low fidelity? Do you need reusability so you don’t have to start from scratch every time? Do you need exportable assets like HTML/JS/CSS? Do you need web based distribution? Do you need requirements export to tools from Borland/IBM/Telelogic etc? Do you need incubation that gives the customer the ultimate simulation experience?

    (Simunication hat on) Let me just update the information provided regarding Simunication. Our product was renamed to Simunicator about six months ago with a new AJAX version made available a couple of weeks ago with new features and improved usability.

    It’s an early market and all products are evolving very quickly. The users will dictate the product features through forums like this and thoughtful insight is always appreciated.

  • carlos duarte

    November 18, 2006 at 12:58 am

    hmm.. well.. how come tiddlywiki wasn’t mentioned here?

  • Joe Sokohl

    November 18, 2006 at 4:15 am

    One critical evaluation attribute that’s missing:

    Works on Macintosh:

    Would like to see that. Otherwise, OmniGraffle’s the hammer!

  • Milan Blenton

    November 18, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    No review of Mockup Screens? We’re using it almost daily, quite useful piece of software.

    http://www.mockupscreens.com/

  • Mike Baxter

    November 18, 2006 at 5:32 pm

    The first part of the article is a useful and topical discussion of the emerging role of simulation (or prototyping) for requirements definition and more. But the “review” of simulation products seems weak, as the above comments point out inaccurate and outdated information for products like Axure and Simunication and suggest other products and product features might have been included. Isn’t pricing a significant factor to include in any product comparison? I notice that only one “reviewed” product has “yes” for each feature listed and must wonder how coincidental that is.

  • Fred Beecher

    November 19, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    Axure runs pretty well under XP/Parallels on my Mac Book Pro. : )

  • Joe Sokohl

    November 24, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks, Fred. Since I’m running XP/Parallels, too, I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Let the G3 & G4 & G5 owners eat (digital) cake!

    What I did miss, though, in the mix, is a review of OmniGraffle as a Visio-killer. I’ve used it with great success, especially with its ability to import and export .vxd
    files.

  • Nick Finck

    November 25, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Thank you, Pauric and Joe Sokohl. I am kind of left wondering where the heck is OmniGraffle. I mean, by the article’s title alone that would be the first piece of software I would expect to be mentioned here. I also have serious doubts about mentioning Serena here, speaking as someone who has kicked it’s tires.

  • Zoltán Gócza

    December 3, 2006 at 10:48 am

    Although not hifi, but you can make interactive prototypes right in Visio that is reusable, easy-to-maintain. I use it sometimes though mainly not for usability testing but for client buy-in and to make the design understood among stakeholders.

    To make an interactive prototype, you only have to link your navigation and interface objects with the relevant pages (and are recomended to collect your navigation masters into stencils, so adding new options does not require modification of all pages).

  • Gagan Diesh

    December 5, 2006 at 1:53 am

    Does it bother anyone else when the sites that sell design related tools look uglier than the backside of a really filthy old bus? Case in point: http://www.elegancetech.com/ls.aspx

    To me, nothing beats paper and pencil. Yes there are tons of collaborative, cool techie tools but I still reach for a pencil when I need to think.

    Omnigraffle is good too, and so is MindManager (http://www.mindjet.com). And I agree with Jesper (http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/visio_replaceme#comment_4015) that hiring a good ruby on rails developer can be a life-saver when things need to be outputted quickly for interaction approval.

  • R Hyre

    December 11, 2006 at 12:01 am

    I miss HyperCard as well, although I should point out that MetaCard
    is still out there at http://www.runrev.com/ (Runtime Revolution).
    They’re still called ‘stacks’, too.

    Runs on Linux, MacOS X, MacOS 9.22, and Windows

  • Máirín Duffy

    December 12, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    How about Inkscape & the Gimp? Dia if you need it?

    Open software using open formats… I never worry about not being able to open my work in a few years.

  • David Ruiz

    December 20, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    Good stuff Scott.

    I was one of the founders of Apptero who created the Composer software and was acquired by Serena back in 2005. I consulted with Serena earlier this year and one of the last things I worked on was a free companion product called Reviewer that allows the models, prototypes and requirements created with Composer to be shared by business and IT stakeholders. It also integrates with Microsoft VSTS and Serena’s own RTM so you can manage the requirements originally visualized in Composer.

    I continue to use Composer (naturally) in my consulting practice as well as with a new software startup I’m working on. Visualizing requirements first is the only way to go.

    DR

  • Anders Anders

    December 21, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    For those of you who still prefer Visio but want to add the documenting feature from Axure, check this out:

    http://www.interakt.nu/home/visio/

  • Dave Shackleton

    December 22, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    I head up product management for iRise, and Scott has hit the mark here on how the products emerged and their value to the definition process as fast and easy methods of visualization.

    One thing to consider though, is that in addition to replacing Visio, definition products that include simulation are truly changing the nature of the communication that occurs between various participants. For example, we discovered early in our evolution that a) high-fidelity simulations with data-interactivity created a different dialog than mid-fidelity simulations, and b) creating a simulation was only half the battle — it turned out that the process of reviewing the simulation with stakeholders and making sure both upstream and downstream participants understood the details had as large an impact on success as the simulation itself. Both should be taken into account when considering the jump into simulation.

    Although iRise has its roots in helping large companies, the next year will see our expansion into products focused on smaller teams and individuals, so we’re keen on improving our understanding of the associated needs. We’ll be keeping a close eye on discussions like these. dshackleton@irise.com

  • Conrad James

    January 24, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    I see that Simunication is now offering free accounts to use Simunicator to build simulations online. That’s one heck of a good offer.

  • Adam Polansky

    January 26, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Nicely organized.

    My team is beginning to assess different tools that we can use to close the gaps between deliverables and help us tighten up the integrity and maintainability of our documentation. This article gives us a good way to take a glance at what each tool does/doesn’t do before we dig a little deeper.

    I think the key for us (and many others I would guess) stems from Anders’ point that iRise was exceptional for certain things of a certain size but that on occasion, it was more practical to use simper methods of comunicating ideas. We aren’t really looking for something to “replace” anything as much as we want something that can help us be able to respond more quickly when we’re working with larger teams or on more complex applications. That said, if there’s enough intellecual funding in place on the team, and it’s enough to convey concepts in the abstract, then that’s what we’ll do.

    I think when a firm lays out fantastic amounts of money for any software or systems, there’s an expectation that it will be used almost exclusively. If not, then why pay that much for it. We have a couple of folks who’ve worked within an iRise environment but it sounds like that expectation of exclusivity turned out to be constraining.

    As internal IAs, our different business owners are our “clients”. We need different measures to communicate with each of them. As a result, I need to be able to communicate with different means using different measures that can be either simpe or sophisticated just liek any outside consultant. Your article gives me a better idea about options that can be reasonably and cost-effectively added to a toolbox without having to make room for it by chucking out the stuff I use now.

  • Wen Johnson

    July 30, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Good article, but yeah, it does miss some wireframing apps for us Mac designers. I’ve been using oversite for awhile (http://taubler.com/oversite). It’s cheap, and it will do wireframes, site maps, simulations, and annotations. Like the article mentions about Composer, you still need to have a licensed copy to open a file, but you can also export your stuff to HTML when you need to share with others.

  • Kalpana Aravabhumi

    January 24, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Scott, Wow! This is very interesting. I have been using iRise for last year, initially I thought Adobe Dreamweaver (I was used to this for 6 yrs) with JavaScript is much better as we don’t have lot of advanced features for progressive disclosures etc. I attended the iRise 6.0 training recently & now we they have iRise 6.5, I am sure this is going to be pioneer tool in Simulation with lot of advanced features. I am just waiting for the iRise 6.5 upgrade at my work.

  • Ed Burgueno

    May 14, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    Great article. I happen to agree with ” a good prototyper should be able to use just about anything – long as they could do it fast and get their point across effectively to their audience.”

    I’m wondering if anyone is aware of a visio replacement for those of us moving into the tablet world with an adroid os. There isn’t much the old visio 2003 does that I think could be improved. I’m just looking for a different level of mobile freedom in my work.

  • Dave G

    April 6, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Given that a lot of designers are coming from Visio, I think it’s hard to say that anything is a “Visio replacement” if it can’t import Visio files which makes up the bulk of people’s portfolio. There are only a couple wireframing/prototyping software packages out there that do this, including Omnigraffle (Mac) and LucidChart (web-based at http://www.lucidchart.com).

  • Shlomo Goltz

    August 31, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Comparison of (almost) All Interaction Design Software

    The following is a large spreadsheet comparing all the UX / IXD tools I could find – Everything from Wireframing to Prototyping, on the Mac, PC, and Web. Created as a way to determine what programs to use depending on various project needs and thought other interaction designers would find this useful.

    ——
    http://slowmtn.tumblr.com/post/30597779545/comparison-of-almost-all-interaction-design-software
    ——

    Take a look at the UX / IXD comparison chart, and please do let me know what you think. I would like to maintain ownership of this doc, but am open to constructive criticism, suggestions, etc).
    Inspired by two articles: A Real Web Design Application by Jason Santa Maria, and Prototyping: Picking the Right Tool by Todd Zaki Warfel

    — Shlomo Goltz

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