There is nothing wrong with Pencil really. It's intuitive, it's fast and can generally get the job done.
The only problem is that it's a Firefox plugin. Well, it's not that the plugin concept troubles me. The problem with Pencil being a plugin, is that it's not a web app, which means you will have to install multiple copies of it on multiple machines, and file sharing is a big headache.
So, when I learnt that Balsamiq has a mockup plugin for FogBugz, I was thrilled-- for the longest period of time I was dreaming of doing all of my work on the web. Google Docs, Google Calendar and FogBugz are now indispensable part of my daily apps due to the fact that they are web apps and thus I can access my data from anyway, anytime. Balsamiq Mockups for FogBugz can bring my mockup files online, and bring me a step closer to my dream.
Balsamiq does not disappoint, apart from the slightly long initial loading time, it's in everyway exceeding my expectation. The UI is slick, beautiful, and such a pleasant for eyes. And it's dead easy to create a professional looking screen in no time:
Well, not very enlightening, I know. But that's because I am never a good artist. But I did this in 2 minutes. I am sure in the hands of skilled or half-skilled artists, Balsamiq will make their jobs easy, pleasant and professional.
In addition to slick UI, Balsamiq plugin integrated seamlessly with FogBugz, once you click "Save ", the drawing will automatically been saved as an attachment in FogBugz case, and on top of that, a screenshot:
And if you want to edit the drawing, you can just click the "Add/Edit UI Mockup" link. Since the drawing is stored on server, you don't have to scramble to find the drawing on your hard disk, that's a life saver.
The only qualm I have with Balsamiq mockup plugin, is that it's not free for startup and students two person Version. They have an explanation why this is so. But still, I think it would be better if they could give that away, just like how FogBugz on Demand is free for an account with two persons or less. The reasons are these:
- It is aligned with their generous act of giving away software for a common good. You are helping startup and students to grow and do their job!
- Those who use FogBugz Startup Edition won't pay for a mockup tool anyway. Why should they pay for a mockup plugin, when they can get the underlying bug tracker for free, and free alternatives?
- And by making the plugin free, you can expect the startups and students to continue use your products after they are the CEOs of fortune 500 companies and /or established tech workers. Giving things away free at the beginning in order to trap their loyalty is a sensible marketing strategy, no?