When developing an application, creating a user interface that ‘makes sense’ is crucial. In other words, an application must be intuitive, easy to navigate, fully integrated and without unnecessary screens that could be replaced by a single button. That’s where Blueprint, a User Interface (UI) design application for iOS app developers by Groosoft comes into play. It is intended for any/every member of an iOS app development team, from designers to coders, this is a very easy way to prototype and share a project, and follow the intended screen flow by the designer of the app.
Blueprint relies heavily on Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), and therefore includes all of the iOS views, buttons and controls, ready for you to easily drag and drop into every screen you are creating. Whether you are designing an iPhone or iPad app, portrait or landscape, Blueprint has got you covered. Of course it also includes every iOS standard widget, by this I mean labels, buttons, table views, switches, text fields, navigation bars, maps, WWW mockups etc.. These widgets have customizable properties, but you can use your own images as well. Also included are a healthy collection of fonts, text size, color, tint and so on. Actions can be assigned to each of your widgets, whether it be swiping, tapping, double-tapping, rotating or what have you. It is worth mentioning that screen transition effects are also included, though I personally didn’t find them very useful as I’m not preparing a Power Point presentation, but designing a User Interface. Anyway, the option exists for the perfectionists I suppose.
While you are working within the Blueprint application it will automatically periodically save your progress, so there’s no need to be concerned about losing your work. In fact, recently while I was designing a new application with it, I was interrupted several times, forced to close the smart cover on my iPad 2….never lost anything. Good job!
There is a little bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of things, you will find that the robustness and portability of the tool may actually dramatically increase your productivity over using more traditional design methods. In no time I was designing screens faster than on my Mac and the best thing is that I’m able to keep working while waiting for a meeting or commuting. Plus one star for Blueprint just for keeping my day more productive.
Once you’ve designed all of your screens, it’s easy to use the Blueprint’s Map View to visualize where to start connecting each button in each screen to create an almost fully functional demo of your App. You can share your finished project via email as a blueprint project, which is viewable by the recipient using Groosoft’s free iOS Blueprint Viewer application. Otherwise, you also have the option to export the project as a PDF or PNG ans well as saving it to Dropbox or mirroring it via AirPlay for a presentation.
As an app developer, I have found this to be a very useful design tool that fits perfectly into my work flow. To be clear, this WILL NOT generate code for you, it is a prototyping tool, meant to aid in the process of designing an application before/while you code it. I really liked the results and my increase in productivity, so I plan on utilizing Blueprint for a number of my upcoming projects. If the $19.99 price tag of the full release scares you, then I recommend trying out the FREE lite version first, which limits you to two projects and eight screens for each project.