I take great pride and pleasure in using an operating system sometimes thought of as difficult, risky, and geared towards programmers. Being the extremely novice developer that I am, I like to boost my sense of competence by using this somewhat elite OS so that I can bask in the surprise of others when they find out that I am using neither Windows nor MAC.
However, along with the perks of using an a slightly atypical OS come its inevitable, intrinsically linked downfalls: in this case, namely a lack of support for and access to popular proprietary programs. Luckily, the open-source community is beautiful and prolific, its efforts affording the ability to hack together a solution to nearly any problem you should wish to tackle.
My latest endeavour, prototyping my next project, has been no exception. The objective: create a high-fidelity, really pretty, visually-identical, interactive approximation of what I envision my web app looking like and being able to do. I began by trying out some web apps advertised for prototyping, InVision and Marvel App — which, of course, are indifferent to my OS — I was off to a good start. InVision didn’t work out, but Marvel App was promising, allowing you create designs with its canvas function. However, there was a glaring flaw: once you move on from creating screen1 to screen2, screen3 must be based off screen2 — there’s no way to use screen1 as a starting point. This becomes extremely frustrating extremely quickly, and I was getting really tempted to cut corners and just omit entire interactions and features.
So, I migrated my project over to some OS-based image editing software. (Note: I am a complete noob at image manipulations.) I had previously used GIMP, but gave InkScape a run this time. Abode Illustrator seems to typically be the tool of choice for operations like mine, but it is of course unavailable for Linux. Having never used Illustrator, I expect that I experienced exactly the same amount of difficulty getting started with InkScape as I would have with Illustrator. As with many things on the most user-friendly Linux distros (ie Ubuntu based), there is a wealth of online knowledge in the form of question forums and tutorials. This meant that I could just google any problem I ran into for instant assistance. I reckon Illustrator similarly has plenty of how-to information available on the interwebz.
By taking advantage of all the help available, I was able to get a handle on using InkScape to mock-up some beautiful screens. I then uploaded each of them back into Marvel App and used Marvel to add interactions between them. And you know what? I don’t think prototying in Linux was particularly hardship-prone.
There was one important lesson learned, that I must remind myself of:
- If it’s not simple, just google it!
Usually I am too stubborn — I try until I’m mad and then declare it impossible. “Just google it” is a much better tactic.
All said and done, I feel much more confident about mocking-up and prototyping apps for future projects after this experience and I’m not at all concerned that my OS is impeding my pace. Another point for Linux!
Note: This post was migrated from its original home on Medium on February 23, 2017.