I'm working on a product design, under pretty intense time/money/team
pressure, using Visio for design sketches. I picked Visio because I've used
it since version 1.0 (maybe I was even a beta tester, can't remember back
that far) and am fairly expert with it. I can work fast and get lots done,
and redone, which is maybe even more important.
But today, when I attempted to copy/paste from one Visio drawing to another
Visio drawing, it pasted in a bunch of mystery shapes and junk instead of
the various dingbat font symbols and other images in my original. Yes, you
read it correctly, it failed copying from Viso to Visio.
They say that you can boil a frog if you put it in a pot with cold water and
slowly turn up the heat. Well, then I'm a frog and Visio's finally boiled me
over. Some other fuel on the burner:
- Visio's layers dialog is application modal. What a constant endless Pain
In The Butt.
- Screen and Print visibility are controlled by separate columns of
checkboxes within said PITB layers dialog. How many times have I
printed images the first time and had to go back in and uncheck stuff there?
Probably a couple trees' worth.
- The Pan and Zoom window retains control of the keyboard when
you reposition the cursor over your drawing. Think you're going to nudge
that shape with your arrow keys now that you've zoomed in? Surprise, you're
zooming in and out again instead. I appear to be unable to learn this. And
Visio appears to be unable to learn that I want to zoom in when I use
Ctrl+Plus, and zoom out using Ctrl+Minus.
- The window and web design shapes are probably ten years old and look
really tired. Translucent windows? Ribbon controls? Galleries? 3-D controls?
Mobile phones? PDAs? Aero? Sorry.
- Connections never seem to connect how I want them to, and one false move
may reroute every one of them.
- If I ungroup a shape in order to change some component visual properties
and then regroup it, the z-index changes.
- Any website big enough to require automated tools to perform a content
inventory is too big for Visio to handle the job.
Certainly the moment I go back to work after sending this I'll remember ten
other things that bug me, but you get the idea. Visio is no longer working
out very well as my quickie sketchpad for designing a new software
Now I'm sure that Visio can do other wonderful tasks, like layout an office
floor plan, configure equipment in a network rack, plan HVAC ducting, create
simple electrical schematics, maybe even do database modeling. But I don't
need to do any of that stuff. I'm a user interface designer.
I have lots of alternatives for my next project. I'm good in Photoshop, but
don't normally like to sketch with it because I'm faster in Visio (mostly
because I tend to try and make things "pretty" in Photoshop, but also
because it's a pain to resize a complex screen mockup). I've made an uneasy
peace with Illustrator for symbol design work, but it frustrates me enough
that I wouldn't want to spend any more time there than I have to. I've used
InDesign to create marketing slicks and brochures, but it doesn't strike me
as optimal for software interface design. Fireworks gets a lot of good press
in this group, that may be what I try next. I'm getting increasingly adept
in Expression Blend, but it's a development tool. I sketch on paper a lot,
but mostly as quick notes to myself that no one else is expected (or able)
Maybe Microsoft will surprise me with a tight Visio upgrade that fixes
everything that bugs me. But I doubt it. Instead, I expect them to bolt on
the ability to design staircases, or roofing tile courses, or croquet
fields, or asteroid belts, or something else equally useless to me. And
maybe that's good business if there are underserved asteroid belt designers
out there. But Visio, even though we've had some good times over the years,
I think it's time we break up.
Ok, I'm all screeded-out now. Time to go back to work (in, um, Visio,