Back in the 1990s, when wireframing was a niche activity, you were pretty much limited to Visio or Illustrator. Nowadays there are a huge number of alternatives. If you want an online app, you can choose from Balsamiq, Just in Mind, Jumpchart, iPlots, iZotz, HotGloo, Connect-A-Sketch, ForeUI, Pidoco, Simulify, Mockup screens, Mocklinr, Wireframe sketcher, Gliffy, Lovely Charts, Project Draw, Creately, Napkee among zillions of others. Offline the situation is equally messy, we’ve got Axure, Omnigraffle, Visio, Sketchflow, iRise, Inkscape, Illustrator, Fireworks, Indesign, Pencil, Denim, Serena, Qmockup, Flairbuilder, Photopro, Caretta Studio, and there’s also reams of GUI builder apps if you’re designing desktop apps. The list just goes on and on. How do you know which ones to use and which to avoid?
Has anyone actually tried them all and created an Ã¼ber comparison table? Not as far as I can tell. Instead I’m sort of hoping for some kind of K-T event to kill of all of the weaker ones. Not sure how that would work, though. Any ideas?
Amendment: post has been repeatedly edited to include additional tools.
Do you mean drowning? ;)
What about Axure?!
And recently been trying out Protoshare – still early and a bit buggy in places but def. worth a look!
Thanks Justin, I’ve edited the post.
“Worth a look” is the problem – so many of these look quite cool, but trying them out takes time.
For example Balsamiq AFAIK doesn’t allow you to link together multiple wireframes in a clickthrough prototype – a massive gotcha that you’ll only discover by trying it.(Edit: see Matt Obee’s comment below)
I’m wondering if we should all get together and crowdsource an Ã¼ber comparison table using Google docs…
Interesting question, but I’m afraid nobody will have compared them all. Maybe it’s a good idea to create e.g. a google doc with all tools and validation criteria and ask everyone to complete …
I only used Axure, Visio and OmniGraffle. For wireframing and prototyping webapplications, I would advice Axure.
I do remember about 5 years ago when I really pined for some kind of wireframing tool that would allow me to re-use objects, possibly even have sitemaps semantically built in, controlled vocab etc. But now there’s just too much choice, long tail my bottom.
To answer your question though, I have only used Visio, Illustrator and Omnigraffle but also Flash, which is very much my preferred choice. Oh and you simply cannot beat pencil and paper, if that counts?
@Harry FYI, Balsamiq does support linking wireframes through buttons, links etc.
An Ãœber-Google Spreadsheet would be nice. Although it will be hard to create good comparison criteria.
For the moment I’ll stick to what I have, and only check out new tools, if there’s a convincing blog post of people who actually worked with the discussed product.
ForeUI is very interesting since it can make skinnable wireframes. But I think it is a desktop app, although it provide an online demo (actually work as an applet in web browser).
But I agree I wish there was one standout app that we all could use.
have a look on this mag http://ciohappyhour.com/wireframing-marathon-starts/#more-215
This guys are doing the job you asked for.
Within the next days they will test wireframe tools.
Volker (founder of http://www.hotgloo.com –> another tool you haven’t listed yes)
Have you seen Wireframes Magazine? http://wireframes.linowski.ca/category/tools/
I haven’t checked to see if it covers everything you mentioned, but it gives capsule reviews of a lot of different tools.
Jakub Linowski’s Wireframes magazine is shaping up to be a very nice resource, but AFAIK it doesn’t have a detailed side-by-side comparison of apps. It’s easy enough to compare feature lists, but it’s another thing to use each app in anger and find out what the strengths and weaknesses really are.
Another type of app that has suddenly mushroomed is remote usability testing. Seems like there are quite a few out there, all with important but subtle differences…
Hi there! Here’s a couple of links you might like:
Hope this helps!
I was about to list CIO Happy Hour Marathon, but Volker was faster.
I think both the companies that produce the programs and the users need that comparison, yesterday.
Going to send them this comments to the organizers, and hope they all clear the questions we all have.
BTW, Justinmind Prototyper (http://www.justinmind.com) is not on your list. :D
Thanks everyone for the positive feedback :) Volker and Alex, thanks for mentioning CIO Happy Hour!
The intro post and the timeline was mainly focused at people, who are new to wireframing and to present historical movement of the market in prototyping.
However, after we present all the companies we will have a juicy table. Stick around! :)
Few people would’ve tried more than 2 or 3. Seriously, in a busy production environment and projects often lasting months, you don’t get much chance to just “try out” a new app. You need to get things done, straight away, and don’t want to risk wasting time on an inadequate app.
I used Powerpoint for a long time, which was adequate, but frustrating. I currently use Omnigraffle, which is generally a joy to use, but has 2 major shortcomings: (1) no dynamic interactions (only hyperlinks between pages), and (2) no re-usable objects.
The hallmark of a good wireframing app for me is the ability to work quickly and unconstrained. Your designs should not be influenced by the strengths or weaknesses of the app you’re using. Or as little as possible, anyway.
Dan Harrelson from Adaptive Path has been doing some work on the same thing…
I’m using qmockup, it’s very simple and it’s very easy to get license for free recently.
To be contrary: tools don’t matter, as long as they sufficiently communicate to whoever you’re communicating to.
Once was PPT more or less 100% (hello Francois!)
Now: Talking to people (hit and miss) / Paper & pen (universal) / Axure (fiddly) / some Photoshop (fun but slow) / Balsamiq (hate it)
The wireframing/prototyping tools market definitely got very crowded over the past couple of years. A big comparison table would be most welcome and I actually thought a creating one to share with people and help them take a good decision in choosing the right tool.
As a prototyping tool creator (http://www.flairbuilder.com) I actually had to try most of the ones I found out about and see what features they have. But I also think that the perspective of the professional users outthere is more important and relevant.
As for the large number tools available, I hope beside the fired up competition, innovation will also come up.
Hi Tom, Peldi from Balsamiq. In case you read this and have time / are willing, I’d love to hear your gripes about Mockups: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. One can’t please everyone, but it would be useful to us to know what offends some people so that we can get to the root of the issue and improve!
I would be a bit wary of doing only a feature comparison. I think that Balsamiq was pretty revolutionary and started a wave of copycat mockup applications, many of which are trying to compete by adding features that Balsamiq doesn’t have (e.g. support for templates, lots of interactivity), but many of the Balsamiq-like applications are too complex and/or not very usable. Balsamiq has always been very grounded in simplicity and ease of use and I think this should be taken into consideration. I have tried some of the other applications on the list but stick with Balsamiq because it meets most of my needs and receives frequent updates. My advice for now – stick with the leader.
p.s. no, I don’t work for Balsamiq ;-)
Leo – I agree, a “pure” feature comparison is a bit daft as more != better. But still, it would be nice to see…
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I agree that having sooo many tools in this market is really amazing. And yes the market force will lead so some of the products dying.
Just like Balsamiq with the pencil look and wiki way of defining the controls really started the trend, new ideas will make this more interesting.
Add another too http://www.Simulify.com into the browser based list.
Let the best win.
Vikas, I’ve added Simulify to the list, cheers.
FWIW, I’ve been maintaining a list of tools too. See http://weblogs.asp.net/fmarguerie/archive/2009/02/15/gui-design-and-prototyping-tools.aspx
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And guess what :)
We are done with the first part of the wireframing solutions list comparison. Hope to cover all of them in a week or two.
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iÂ´ve been mostly using Balsamiq and Axure but iÂ´ve been asked to work with Justinmind prototyper! i reckon itÂ´s by far the best prototyper: AJAx effects, database simulation and comments without a single line of coding… quick and powerful, great tool!
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Was this comparison chart ever created? I love the tool I use – LucidChart(a browser-based tool) but would be very interested to see how it stacks up in an objective way.
It would be nice to take two or three products at a time and just compare them for important features (must have features).
Please also include Mockuptiger as it is the only tool that allows you to host it online on your own server.
This is an older article but still comes up in searches for wireframing tools. Many tools have moved beyond simple wireframing and UI design to encompass the entire process of requirements management and definition. Blueprint is one such tool. It’s more geared toward large enterprises trying to adopt agile methodologies, but includes a robust set of wireframing and UI mockup tools.