What is Vitruvian-pro?
Vitruvian-pro is a graphical interface prototyping application. Its fundamental purpose is to assist in the communication between users, software developers, project managers and other people involved in the planning and implementation of software projects.
Vitruvian-pro allows the user to draw program screens with windows, buttons, text boxes, scrollbars, menus and other graphical components in an agile and intuitive way, without requiring any programming knowledge at all. This allows the user to express his ideas in a clear and precise fashion, drastically improving his communication with the other people involved in the project. Since Vitruvian-pro is not a programming tool, even non-developers will be able to use it without difficulty.
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Why use Vitruvian-Pro?
The inefficiency in the communication between software designers and users is usually one of the main obstacles to effective software development. Even though fairly thorough specifications may exist, the terminology employed by the several people involved in the project is often very different, leading to confusion about how the finished product should operate. This results in the production of programs that do not entirely solve the problem that they were originally designed to address, or that do so in an inefficient fashion.
Vitruvian-pro was designed to bring some improvement to this scenario, at least in the area of graphical interface design, which, in modern applications, is the main form of interaction with the user. A well-designed interface may save weeks or even months of development, and has direct repercussions on the productivity of the end-user after deployment.
Using Vitruvian-pro, project directors can quickly and efficiently specify the most important aspects of an application's user interface before development begins. That way, end users will be able to provide their feedback about it, presenting their questions and comments.
This efficient communication channel between technology designers, programmers and end users frequently unveils new requirements that had not been noticed before, or modify those that had already been planned, causing profound changes in the software's architecture and implementation. Therefore, it is extremely important that this type of communication be as efficient and complete as possible at the early stages of the project, so as to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of great amounts of time and effort to implement features that will not be useful to the final product.
Why use Vitruvian-Pro instead of other types of application?
When it comes to designing graphical interfaces, Vitruvian-pro offers considerable advantage over other types of applications. For example:
Office applications and Text processors. Drawing shapes into a word-processing application is possible, but there usually are no drawing tools to conveniently represent the several components commonly found in a graphical interface. Furthermore, there are severe limitations such as the fact that menu bars drawn using shapes do not "open" when clicked, nor do combo boxes. Also, a considerable amount of effort is often necessary in order to correctly position the geometric elements in a way that resembles a graphical interface, and reusing such drawings is often impractical.
Image manipulation tools. An image manipulation or illustration tool does not perform well at aiding the user to design graphical interfaces, since their focus is on the overall graphics quality of the image and it is usually not easy to manipulate, combine and modify individual components separately. These tools provide advanced graphics resources, but require a great amount of effort from the user in order to draw each component, and modifications are often impractical or require the component to be completely redrawn.
Development environments. Developers often use the development tool itself in order to make interface prototypes in order to present them to the user. This approach can be more practical than the alternatives presented so far, but its fundamental problem is that the communication is one-way, that is, only the developers can make the prototypes and present them to the audience, never the reverse. This happens because the user seldom has development tools installed on his computer, therefore the developers will usually send screenshots which cannot be edited by the user.
Contrary to general-purpose applications that can be used to make user interface prototypes, Vitruvian-pro is an application specifically designed for that task. Therefore, it offers much more convenient tools to the user, including several ready-to-use components that can have their appearance and content customized through very simple and straight-forward parameters.
The Importance of Prototyping
The importance of a user interface prototype is often understated. It is important to bear in mind that a user and a developer think in very different ways. Even when the same description of an application is presented to both of them, they will each have very different mental images about the application's interface and behavior.
These differences, which on a first analysis may seem superficial and unimportant, can lead to very costly misunderstandings for both parts. Developers often do not know or understand the user's needs or the motivation for building the application, and may accidentaly make incorrect suppositions about the interface, making it excessively complex or otherwise inadequate for the user's original intentions.
The user, on the other hand, is frequently unaware of his own needs because he often fails to realize the possibilities that are offered by the several interface design components. Therefore, when there is no communication with the development team, these new requirements are often only identified after the development has already started or, even worse, after then project has been delivered, at which point making modifications can be very expensive.
Carefully elaborating software prototypes and, in particular, user interface prototypes, can avoid a significant portion of these problems, since it provides a way for developers and users to communicate and adjust their views and ideas on the software until there is a consensus, at which point it will be safer to start developing the application.