Improved iPlotz

23 Jul

There has been numerous wireframing applications released over the years. And iPlotz have gained a lot of audience and favorable comments for its three years of existence.

                    The following is an excerpt from Cristian Pascu’s review of iPlotz and its competitor, Balsamiq Mockups. Written on May 3, 2009 and published on his website, Flairbuilder, “Balsamiq Mockups and iPlotz Comparison” was a fair and balanced blog coming from a software and graphics tool developer. As it was written months after iPlotz was launched (iPlotz was launched on January 1 of the same year), the author said that “iPlotz is growing and, as I said, things are moving pretty fast.” Furthermore, Pascu said that iPlotz being released as a *hosted application*, the difficulties in “user management, user rights, collaboration, etc.” were solved with “the look and feel the application itself looks much more polished.” Pascu’s review of iPlotz was based on the most recent version then, version 1.5 (released on April 28).

The Review

Compared to Balsamiq Mockups Working Canvas, working on iPlotz Wireframe let you create multiple pages, define each with specific size, and assign master pages. Pascu praised iPlotz for its feature of linking together pages to enable linking of one component to another page.

Balsamiq

Pascu then critiqued iPlotz‘ components palette. Balsamiq Mockups offer a palette where the list has large icons that show what the components would actually look like. On the contrary, iPlotz “vertical, with small labeled icons… traditionally positioned on the side of the working area”. Pascu also said that it has no function that enables quick searching, compared to Mockups’ Quick Add Box. However, iPlotz has improved its features since then and has added a search toolbar on top of the components palette.

iPlotz‘ Property Inspector that enables editing on components added on the wireframe was given consideration by Pascu as the Mark Vernon’s team continuously work together to release improved versions of iPlotz. As of now, the Property Inspector is easier to work with as it automatically shifts the size of each component with a list of presets. It also has functions like duplicate, cut, copy, paste, lock, link, font styles and size and many others that enable manual customization.

Pascu’s basis on his review of iPlotz page components handling was actually old as the most recent version of the software has a scroll bar on the right and bottom sides of the page that enables better handling than the former dragging feature. Pascu said then that “you have to click and drag one of the selected components in order to move the entire selection” in iPlotz. However,  scrolling is allowed now without prior clicking of any component. Pascu’s comment on resizing the page in iPlotz as improving is absolutely true. As of now, changing the size of the page and the components is easily done by clicking on the presets offered in the Property Inspector Box.

iPhone mockup created in iPlotz

Regarding the iPhone features of Balsamiq and iPlotz. The Romanian web developer said that the former has fewer components for the said Apple product but has more options for those few components. iPlotz, however,”has a larger set of separate components allowing you to build iPhone mockups by putting together the many piece.” Pascu commented on iPlotz components for iPhone that are not any more hand-drawn and rather “half-sketchy, half-polished with straight lines and clean coloring.” However, Pascu didn’t clarify if he finds it good or bad. Now, there is also an Android support in iPlotz.

Exporting the projects in iPlotz could be done to PNG, JPG and PDF outputs. As of now, the project could also be exported to HTML code and a URL for online previewing.

As the version used by Pascu to write his review quite obsolete, the pointers said were still essential to determine which of the two is better. iPlotz is developed by Mark Vernon and a team led by Girish Rengaswamy. It started as an online wireframing tool, with basic project management features. And then, a desktop version was developed making iPlotz an Adobe AIR application. The most recent version released was on October 31, 2011.

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*hosted application* – is a software as a service (SaaS) solution that allows users to execute and operate a software application entirely from the cloud on a recurring subscription. Hosted applications are hosted and powered from the remote cloud infrastructure and are accessed globally through the Internet. They provide the same functionality as locally installed software but can be updated more easily (see source here)

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