Mobile App Development with Briefs [Video]

Mobile App Development with Briefs [Video]

Share these actual insights

Briefs for Mac, a new piece of software from MartianCraft, will help you with your mobile app development activities. Briefs for Mac helps you design mockups and interactive prototypes for iOS devices and is now available in the App Store, and I have had a chance to test it for actualinsights*.

In the past, when working on mobile app developments projects, I have had the pleasure to work with other populair tools that support mobile app development such as Axure, Balsamiq and Omnigraffle. Of course, there are some powerful online alternatives such as Proto.io, but personally I have always found myself in situations where an internet connection wasn’t always available.

Briefs for Mac, I’m not the first

I am definitely the first to post a review of Briefs for Mac on the web. Federico Viticci over at MacStories actually published one of the first, and without a doubt the most extensive review of Briefs for Mac. Now, I could have spent my time trying to out-do a fellow blogger, but in a nutshell, I won’t.

Mobile App Development with Briefs

Briefs Live Environment

In short, Briefs is an all-in-one iOS mobile app development tool for Mac that allows you to easily create mockups and interactive prototypes for the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPad. It’s simple drag & drop interface lets you intuitively create your app environment, called ‘scenes’ by Briefs. You are able to link these scenes together using actions via Text, Buttons, or Hotspots. Any action can be assigned their own transition animation to give you that iOS feel.

A really nice element is the Simulation and Live testing functionality built in. Through Wifi and their free iOS app Briefcase, you can test your prototype on your iOS device at any time. If you are unable to, Briefs also offers a built-in iOS simulator allowing you to simulate your work on on an iPhone 4, iPhone 5, or iPad.

What I did find missing in most of the reviews, and even on the Briefs for Mac website, was an easy to understand, real life video walkthrough of the mobile app development tool. I took it upon myself to do this for you.

Mobile App Development: iOS Camera App

Since I am not working on any mobile app development projects at the moment, and due to family/work life time constraints, I made a simple mockup of the actual iOS Camera App in Briefs for Mac. I wanted to see if I could rebuild the app using Briefs, to get to grips with the tool and its features.

Here is the result… definitely not Oscar winning material, but I hope that it will give you a little ‘no-fluff’ idea of how Briefs for Mac works.

Conclusion

DISCLAIMER I tested the app Version 1.0.4 (49) on May 25th 2013.

Pros

  • excellent support
  • supports SD and Retina design
  • live display via iOS app Briefcase (iPhone & iPad)
  • total cost of ownership is lower compared to other tools
  • good UI library to get you started

Cons

  • no quick start documentation
  • still little buggy (bi-weekly updates still happening to get everything fixed)
  • no iCloud/Dropbox sharing
  • no scrolling, swiping, pinching, or zooming interactions

 

Mobile App Development with Briefs

Briefs Live Testing

Briefs for Mac in its current form (v1.0.4) is a great single-time-fee alternative for some of the more expensive alternatives out there, especially when you are mobile focused. Although tools like Axure, Omnigraffle, and Proto.io offer other features, the total cost of ownership is a bit higher. The team behind Briefs for Mac, Martiancraft, is busy rolling out new features all the time.

I might be a bit lenient at the moment since Briefs has only just been launched, but I must be honest with you and mention that I did miss some critical features which significantly impacts the price/value balance. Being a mobile app development tool, I was surprised to see that Page Scroll, Swipe, Pinch/Zoom functionalities were not included in the initial release. I think that the app would benefit more, especially is adoption (and sales of course), if these features were made available.

I am glad to share with you though, that the team behind Briefs for Mac are very responsive and do listen to community concerns and ideas. Along with the capability to perform Live testing using their iOS app Briefcases, give the app a lot of value, as well as the ease of use. Briefs, even though it would be nice to have had some documentation, is quite easy to understand and get to grips with.

My recommendation would therefore be to keep a sharp lookout for future developments of Briefs, and make sure to get this mobile app development software in your toolbox.

Read more about Briefs in the App Store or download the trial version

About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on actualinsights.com.

Comments

  1. For me, the lack of documentation wouldn’t be a big issue based on the demo you showed. Its looks really straightforward to get up an running. However, I think that with a simple hot-spot driven interactivity there may be some limitations in the types of app Briefs would be suited to prototyping.

    For instance, your demo showed you using the UITabBarController. This is a well used component in iOS (perhaps waning a bit now) but in order to show an approximation of it working, you had to wire each of the elements in a long daiy-chain of hotspots and page links.

    This could be really unwieldy at times.

    A better option for me would be something closer to what Axure does, where the author creates a widget, this case the tabBar Controller and I assign an action to each hotspot to load a scene. This widget I can possibly be positioned on a master layer so it appears on all designated scenes.

    This is a pretty obtuse example, but it shows a potential issue with Briefs in that any deeper interactivity (i.e. anything approximating Axure’s widgets or incredibly obtuse variable assignment ) means that it will not be suitable for.

    Perhaps this is beyond the remit of the tool at this stage but it would be good to know what road-map was in place before I shelled out £150 on an application like this. Perhaps even having a 30 day trial of the software would be really useful just to see if anything more robust can be produced.

    • Tim. Thanks for your extensive feedback. I am on my phone so won’t equal your efforts 😉

      I just wanted to let know (what I clearly forgot to mention) is that there is a demo version: https://purchase.giveabrief.com/

      Let me know what you think of Briefs 🙂

      • Well I wil check out the demo (thanks for the link) and let you know what I think. Basic data storage within the Breifs application would really help with prototyping more complex user behaviour. If it’s not in this release it may be forthcoming in later releases.

Trackbacks

  1. […] (Link) Take your briefs on the go and see your designs where they were meant to be experienced. Briefscase is the ultimate companion for Briefs on your Mac. […]

  2. […] (Link) Take your briefs on the go and see your designs where they were meant to be experienced. Briefscase is the ultimate companion for Briefs on your Mac. […]

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