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Take a look at PixelFree Studio, a cross-platform user interface design tool, now in beta release.
The PixelFree Studio UI design tool promises a single design and a native layout for multiple platforms, including mobile UIs for iOS and Android applications and for HTML5 web applications. This visual design and layout editor automates the grunt work UI designers and front-end developers must do to move UIs from concept to production, according to Krisn Ramcharitar, CTO of the tool's parent company, ZigiSoft LLC.
This product rundown explores what PixelFree Studio does, how its key functions could reduce application delivery time and a beta user's first impressions of the tool. Also, we'll look at pricing schedules and features that will be added before the general release in the summer of 2017. Now in its beta test release, the UI design tool was first demonstrated at the DeveloperWeek 2017 conference in February.
What it does
PixelFree Studio promises to streamline UI lifecycle processes with visual design templates, as well as automate front-end integration and translation of the UI and user experience data into native code, according to Ramcharitar. At this point, he's seen 60% time reductions in UI design-to-delivery time with this tool.
PixelFree Studio's primary features are the Design Editor and Layout Editor. Using the Design Editor, graphic designers create the art assets for an app. In the Layout Editor, the UI designer uses these components to build responsive designs. In this stage, the designer also can import existing graphics from other tools.
Other capabilities include a real-time design feature, LiveView; vector support to import, create and manipulate graphics on any platform; and the ability to use audio, video and animations in the UI design. Also, UIs are visually the same on each supported operating system, be it iOS, Android and so on.
Why it's cool
PixelFree Studio cuts out many steps in the design and delivery of UIs, according to Ramcharitar. Historically, and put simply, the process has required a UI designer to create visual elements. Then, the designer sends the UI graphic files to the front-end developer, who integrates all the different assets. Finally, the developer installs the finished UI onto a platform.
Beta user Nic Meliones, CEO of content monetization vendor BitWall Inc., noted that creating a native iOS app and a native Android app requires design and development for each of these to be mostly independent of each other. That adds substantial time to the development process.
PixelFree Studio eliminates several steps in the traditional UI design and development process, automating elements of the design, asset integration and deployment of user interfaces. "Essentially, you have your code, your UI designs on PixelFree, and you put your independent designs on each of those platforms," Ramcharitar said.
With native development, the UI can be moved from PixelFree Studio to any supported platform -- as in the write-once, deploy-everywhere model. "After that, the UI can be updated without breaking the existing project code," he noted.
What a user says
Meliones is starting to use the beta release of PixelFree Studio to cut BitWall's software delivery times. The time reduction helps close product sales in two ways:
- The software provider must prove its product fills a real need for the customer. "Proving that as quickly as possible is crucial," Meliones said.
- Once the customer recognizes that the product fills a real need, the software vendor needs to deliver the product immediately, capitalizing on the window of opportunity before other competitors do.
Nic MelionesCEO, BitWall
"Time is everything when it comes to startups, and anything that can effectively save time while still delivering quality results is essential," he said.
Meliones said he has found the PixelFree Studio platform to be intuitive and, thusly, easy to use. The tool's visual drag-and-drop style makes it simple to design an app. Another ease-of-use plus is PixelFree Studio's simple integrations for audio, video and animations. A bonus was the UI design tool's automation of customization tasks for "every facet of the design," he said.
"When it comes to getting our product to market, having these various features -- all of which are staples in app development -- available for quick implementation allows us to focus our efforts on other key areas of our product."
At press time, here were the pricing options per user, per month for PixelFree Studio:
- $99 for mobile, including unlimited UI designs for unlimited Android and iOS projects;
- $125 for unlimited mobile and web iOS, Android and HTML5 projects; and
- $49 for unlimited UI designs and HTML5 projects for the web.
Coming soon to PixelFree Studio
During the next few months, additions to the UI design tool will include support for desktop systems -- such as C# for Windows and Swift Objective-C for macOS. Expanding into providing UI design and development options for internet-of-things devices, such as smart TV, is under consideration.
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