I'm looking for a tool that'll help me create sketches/mockups of web pages. I'm not talking about the "photo-realistic" sets of PSD's that break everything down into components. I'm not looking at "public facing" results. I'm talking more about a sketchy wire-framing tool to replace a pen an paper. I know there are a few of those around.
Thanks for your input.
The service that's been making the most waves in this area is Balsamiq, a micro-ISV itself that's grown to greater than one million in profits in around a year and a half.
Probably not what you're looking for, but it has worked best for me.
There are number of wireframe stencils that can help speed up your mockups. I have tried several for Visio. Yahoo has their Design Stencils, which are available for many tools.
http://developer.yahoo.com/ypatterns/about/stencils/ Yahoo! Design Stencil Kit version 1.0 is available for OmniGraffle, Visio (XML), Adobe Illustrator (PDF and SVG), and Adobe Photoshop (PNG), and covers the following topics:
* Ad Units
* Charts and Tables
* UI Controls
* Form Elements
* Menus and Buttons
* Mobile - General
* Mobile - iPhone
* Navigation and Pagination
* OS Elements
* Placeholder Text
* Screen Resolutions
* Windows and Containers
I hear great things about Balsamiq but haven't used it. I have used Axure (http://axure.com/ ) with a lot of success. We were able to get our protos done on the free trial alone.
I've tested a alot of them lately and settled on http://www.iplotz.com I found it's web-based version to be very helpful when geeting feedback from customers.
I like its sketchy-style better than Balsamiq, as it feels a step more professional without being to perfect.
Pencil is free. http://www.evolus.vn/Pencil/Home.html I've used it informally and works well. It has he exporting features you need. You can make your pages look like a "sketch" or more realistic. Some developers frown on making it look too realistic because clients will think it's almost completed and will not trust you time requirements.
Surprised it's not listed, but Mockingbird is GREAT. All online and free.
Looks like Microsoft has jumped into this space. It is free. I have never used it but Microsoft development tools are usually very slick. It will probably put balsamic out of business since they are giving it away.
WireframeSketcher (my product) is a tool that helps quickly create wireframes, mockups and prototypes for desktop, web and mobile applications. It comes both as a standalone version and as a plug-in for Eclipse IDEs. It has some distinctive features like storyboards, components, linking and vector PDF export. Among supported IDEs are are Aptana, Flash Builder, Zend Studio and Rational Application Developer.
I've been trying a number of these as well recently including:
Pencil - mentioned above
Mockflow - http://www.mockflow.com/ Has a desktop version. Nice. Built an iPhone mockup with included iPhone template.
Simplediagrams - http://www.simplediagrams.com/home very cool chalk board look.
Cacoo - http://cacoo.com/ good multi-purpose web app diagramming tool with collaboration.
My focus was on free or free trials. I'll have to check out the others listed in this thread now.
The problem with many mockup tools is that they give you a false sense of real estate.
It matters quite a lot how many pixels you have available to distribute your elements around with.
I would recommend FireWorks as it gives you a more realistic idea about your wireframes.