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There is a great Android Design – UI Overview site, but no great UI design tools for Android

Posted by Jeroen Pluimers on 2012/02/15

Recently the Android Design site was launched with great explanation on how to properly design UIs for Android Apps.

Like Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines and Microsoft’s User Experience Design Guidelines for Windows Phone they are a must for any mobile developer.

Together with sites like Android UI Design Patterns, and mockup stencil tools, more Android UI mockup sketch tools and stencils allow you to give prospective users an impression on how an app might be looking like when developed.

What is lacking is a set of real Android GUI design tools. The kind of tools like the Xcode Interface Builder for iOS, or Expression Blend for Windows Phone that – together with iOS PSD templates or Windows Phone design templates (and more templates) – give you a killer start.

Also note Delphi XE2 that has a great UI designer which has consistently covered Windows UI design for 15+ years, including multi-touch and gesture support, and now covers Mac OS X and iOS for HD and 3D apps (but not yet with multi-touch or gesture support).

The only design tool for Android I could find is DroidDraw that emits the XML needed for Android UIs. It is painfully slow and lacks basic things like a property window to edit properties of UI elements.

Given the number of Android app developers, there is much room for improvement.

  • Am I missing something here?
  • What kind of tools are you using?

–jeroen

via: Android Design – UI Overview.

6 Responses to “There is a great Android Design – UI Overview site, but no great UI design tools for Android”

  1. A. Bouchez said

    You should consider also Smart – see http://op4js.optimalesystemer.no/2012/02/06/the-final-battle-begins-persians-on-the-run/ – which has a visual UI designer on its way.
    This will work for Android, iPhone and even Web apps.
    You’ll code in Object Pascal, then compile it into stand-alone JavaScript HTML application.
    I’ve the alpha version, and it is very promising!

    • jpluimers said

      I will look into this, but I’m looking for a good UI designer for native apps as well.
      If you come across one, please let me know.
      –jeroen

  2. Unfortunately the state of visual GUI builders for Android is pretty bad. For wireframing and visual design the normal toolset from PS to OmniGraffle work but for building real UIs in actual code the best choice is ADT plugin for Eclipse. The UI builder in it has improved a lot in the last year but still is pretty damn far from being good enough.

    Of course, building Android UIs in general is a bit more complex than iOS for example due to the scalability requirements but it shouldn’t be impossible to create a UI builder that actually supports the work. I still just write XML and occasionally check the ADT GUI builder how it looks but usually I just perform the infinite loop: tweak XML -> run on device -> tweak -> run…

    I’m sure Google has skills to create a good UI builder but I’m not sure if they have allocated budget. I’m placing my hope on external people like the folks who built the IDEA IDE.

    Well… we’ll see…

  3. Yogi Yang said

    There are many tools that allow one to build UI for Android. You need to look at NSBasic, Basic4Android, etc.

    Do look them up. I am personally using Basic4Android and am happy with it.

    All the tools that I have mentioned do not support Pascal or Delphi dialect but they do excel at providing a blazing fast IDE for building UI visually.

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