Recently, I received a copy of  Flair Builder , a new wire-frame, mock and interactive prototyping tool.  As many of my readers know, I am very much for utilizing paper prototyping for the first few iterations of a design.

Of course, when I need to present something to a client I try to clean up the design as well as illustrate complex interactions. This is where a tool like Flair Builder can come in handy.

Flair Builder ExampleFlair builder is built as an Adobe Flex application and allows for quick and rapid building of both lo-fi and highly interactive prototypes. In total I would estimate it took me about 1 – 2 hours to feel comfortable enough in the application to actually get to building out a project. Projects allow for both multiple pages, as well as master pages which I found to be useful when coping elements across new pages such as a menu
As for the individual components Flair Builder does a good job of giving you some highly interactive pre-built components. Some of these include, dynamic menus, interactive tab structures, graphs, charts, trees, multimedia controls, datagrids, etc…

I was especially happy with how easy it was to align elements on the screen. As I dropped a new element into place a cross-hair was displayed with which you can use to line up your current element with previously placed elements.  In addition, most of the interactive widgets provide states for interactivity. These events could be.Flair Builder Widgets
modified to perform other interactions when in preview mode, like launch a pop-up .You can view this interactivity by switching to preview in the “View” menu.

The application looks to be in the very beginning stages, but does have a lot offer for quick prototyping. In my tests I was able to do almost everything I wanted to in illustrating my application UI. There were a few small bugs I came across, but nothing that prevented me from getting the initial master page and a few demo pages put together. There is an active community for the tool and the developer seems to be open to suggestions and ideas for interface improvements.

The Good:

  • Flair Builder did not seem to slow my designs down and made it quick to make interactive mocks that users could read(my handwriting isn’t the best).
  • Rapidly constructed wire frames with out a hitch
  • A large assortment of widgets with a variety of interaction states
  • The ability to group elements and quickly copy an entire group.
  • Developer has been actively pushing out new builds
  • Ability to work on multiple projects
  • Easily able to visually present complex interactions: modals, messages, etc..
  • Large assortment of icons available to use

The Bad:

  • No print option directly from the File menu. I frequently want to print out iterations of a design to Paper.
  • Currently only one theme for the widgets
  • Doesn’t remember my last saved project

Conclusion

Compared to other tools on the market flair builder is lacking in a few key features, but as of the initial writing of this article. Over 2 new versions were deployed. I also really want to see some advanced printing features in the next version. I like to take and scribble on my mocks. I really feel the strong points of the application are in the interactive prototype features. It’s a strong contender and I look forward to seeing what will come next.

[xrr rating=3/5]