GUI Builder Tools You Should Be Using

I really do hate to say that when it comes to the selection of GUI builder software out there, the selection is kind of narrow and very limiting based on the choice you make. While visual GUI design is an incredibly important and useful tool, and one encouraged by everyone … well.

The problem with making a universal GUI builder is that it just can’t be done for now. Every platform has different requirements for information and configuration when it comes to rendering a GUI, and every language stores and retrieves them in unique ways as well.

On top of this, IDEs and SDKs make this variation even more proprietary in an effort to make a multi-file project feel like a single unit, and ergo manageable. It works out, but it means if you want a visual GUI designer, you’re going to suffer ramifications.

What Ramifications:

Since GUI designers have to play nicely with all number of special formatting and order of process, choosing a GUI builder will mean choosing an IDE. And, when you choose an IDE, you’re choosing a limited (sometimes to one) selection of languages you can use, and often which platforms you can readily design and build for.

On top of this, programming will mostly have to be done inside this IDE as well.

Now that we’ve pointed this out, what are some good GUI options?

#1 – Microsoft Visual Studio

Microsoft Visual Studio is one of the bigger SDK/IDE offerings out there, and their visual GUI design system pretty much sets the standard all others attempt to meet. It’s very simple, point and click, and easy to configure the various properties of buttons, and jump right to the code that their various events trigger.

Visual Studio is one of the less limiting IDEs when it comes to language selection, offering ASP.Net, C++, C# and Visual Studio .Net. On top of this, the extension system allows things like Xammarin to enable it to build for Android and other SOC devices. But, that doesn’t always work right.

#2 – MonoDevelop

MonoDevelop is designed to directly imitate Visual Studio, but in stead of relying strictly on the Win API for control sources, it uses a third party library called GTK.

If you know how to use VS, you know how to use this one. But, its editor isn’t quite as nice due to the GTK controls hating being in that mode. While it can build for a ton of systems VS can’t, it also requires, on top of the .Net framework, the Mono runtime, unless you’re building for Windows.

#3 – Eclipse

Eclipse limits you to Java normally, though extensions can allow you to use C# in a limited fashion, as well as a few goofy Mac languages as well. But, where this tool shines is as an Android and iOS development platform.

It has the ease and fluidity of VS for GUI editing, but with mobile designs in mind.

As you see, the problem with picking a GUI builder is that none of them are independent of the IDE, unless it’s a web SDK tool in which case, there really aren’t any good GUI design tools for that, though bless everyone, they’re trying!

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Megan Wilson
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)walkme.com
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