In my previous post Getting Started with Prototyping I highlighted three reasons why I believe we should all be prototyping our designs, along with three points to remember when choosing a tool. This is part two: the tools themselves.

Below I highlight some of the most popular tools used for prototyping interactions. These tools can be used for both iOS and Android. They are constantly changing, and new tools seem to enter the market every week. With that said, these are the tools of early-2015.

I briefly describe and expose some of their key characteristics and shine light on their pros and cons. In complete candor I must say that these are my thoughts. As I mentioned in my last post no tool is going to work perfectly for everyone or every situation. In order of appearance, the tools highlighted are:

These products have been pivotal to the design of Wildcard. Without them we surely would not be where we are today. Download Wildcard for your iPhone and see for yourself how our product was influenced through the process of prototyping.

Quartz Composer

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Yosemite replacement icon by Louie Mantia

Quartz Composer (QC) is a node-based visual programming application—at first look it appears incredibly intimidating. Prototypes are built by connecting patches with noodles. There are many types of patches, like an interaction patch, which allow you to track a mouse event for example, or transition patches, which allow you to change a variable. To really convey the power of QC, I’d need to write a much longer post. I recommend checking out the resource links pasted below.

QC is developed by Apple and is available for free as a developer tool. You can follow instructions on how to install it here. Unfortunately the last stable build was released in 2011, which in and of itself is troublesome.

I have found QC to be great tool for developing micro animations and transitions. Live feedback on the desktop is one of its biggest benefits in that I do not need to check my phone each time a change is made. Moreover, QC has been given great revival in recent years with thanks to Facebook and the release of their internal patch library, Origami—which was used to prototype Paper. Much has been written about Origami, so I won’t go into too much detail—though I have linked to some resources below.

My biggest gripe with QC of late has been that it eats up a lot of my CPU. This coupled with the lack of support from Apple worries me.

Example