UI App Rants

Disclaimer: This is your typical rant – it’s purely selfish in nature, there is no underlying purpose, no hidden social or political commentary, and no wisdom to be gained. It’s just me, griping about minutia that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

After a long hiatus, I’m back to doing UI mockups. Which means I need a good drawing application that’s well suited to this kind of work. The requirements are not too outrageous:

  • Decent vector art tools
  • Decent bitmap art tools
  • Good coordinate system tools (gridlines, guides, “snap to” capabilities)
  • Make repetitive tasks easy (copy/paste graphic styles)
  • Good support for rendering text

So why is it that the apps that are available, and widely acclaimed, are so ill-suited to this kind of work? One can only conclude that every UI designer out there is hideously overpaid, because 90% of what they do is not UI design. No, they spend the vast majority of their day tearing their hair out dealing with these embarrasing apps:

Adobe Photoshop: Why do people use this thing, why! Easily the most overrated, overpriced, piece of Shinola I’ve ever seen. Adobe must be making a ton of money off NASA because Photoshop is about as expensive as your average space mission, and you have to be a frickin’ rocket scientist to use it. Want to do an N-dimensional, Fast Fourier Transform? No problem, there’s a nice big button for it. But want to draw a dashed line? “Hmm… there must be a control for that somewhere … no, that’s not it… hmm, maybe this? Nope, not that either … ah, here’s a tutorial … whups, that only does horizontal and vertical lines…” And the entire application is like that!

Adobe Illustrator: The perfect tool if you’re twisted enough to understand how Photoshop works… and want everything to look like a Nagel print.

Macromedia Fireworks: Oh so tantalizingly close to being an awesome tool. Decent bitmap and vector art tools, a relatively straight-forward UI. Too bad it grinds to a halt if you ask it to draw more than a paragraph of text anywhere. :-(

Okay, I’m done venting now. Guess I’ll go back to good ol’ DHTML. All you need is a decent browser (Firefox) and a good text-editor (VI)… oh, and maybe Photoshop to help you tweak the artwork for buttons. *sigh*