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Review of Axure RP Pro

The Q2 2006 issue of GUUUI is a review of the prototyping tool Axure RP Pro.

The good:
- Drag and drop widgets onto a grid (as you might know it from Visio)
- Generate prototypes in a format that behaves like real web pages (i.e. you can interact with forms and pages can scroll)
- Save time on repetitive changes by using custom widgets and templates
- Simulate rich interactivity by showing and hiding layers
- Automatically generate user interface specifications

The bad:
- You can't navigate your pages inside Axure by clicking links and buttons
- Somewhat expensive


Henrik Olsen - April 01, 2006

See also: Tools (106)  Prototyping and wireframing (120)  GUUUI articles (11) 



I introduced Axure RP Pro at Creuna Denmark more than a year ago. We've been using Axure RP for prototyping since v 2.0 and it's a great tool - worth every one of the 589 dollars.

It's not like we've been trying to keep this great tool a secret - on the contrary! But I've been very surprised at how slowly the IA community has been adopting Axure, even though we've been trying to spread the word. There is a lot of conservative Visio-lovers out there, though :)

So go grab the trial but be prepared to spend money on the real deal, because you don't wanna wireframe in Visio ever again.

Klaus Silberbauer | April 17, 2006


I agree with Klaus. I have prototyped with all sorts of tools and this one is far superior. On the "bad" list above:
1. I would remove the price (Axure saves you so much time - especially on global changes and alternative designs - that it quickly pays for itself);
2. I would add that it does not output site maps, except in the form of a hierarchical list. This is obviously insufficient, but according to their forum, they're working on it.

Michelangelo | April 26, 2006


Henrik. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In which way do you think this will affect the findings of your 2002 survey about prototyping tool satisfaction?

I'm a little more cautious about this tool: Like Irise (that costs 250,000USD per license), this tool is for non-techies to use. And the big danger is that it deepens the gap between prototyping and development.

Keeping the tech staff out of the loop is a big risk that can often result in very expensive and very complicated implementations. In my opinion, tech staff should be involved as early as possible to make sure that the prototype supports the benefits of the technological platform — in other words, the sweetspot of the chosen technology.

Ruby on Rails as a prototyping tool is a perfect example of getting the best from both worlds. It requires, however tech people on your team, but the benefit is immense as you can usertest, use real data, and easily move on to a production stable application.

Jesper R | June 21, 2006


Hi Jesper

I'm sure that you agree with me that Axure and iRise don't increase the gap between techies and non-techies more than other computer based prototyping tools do.

In my opinion, the only approach in position of closing this gap is paper prototyping. Paper prototyping can facilitate true collaboration, since everybody capable of operating paper, pens, scissors and glue sticks can participate.

Agile development frameworks such as Ruby on Rails are excellent for prototyping backend functionality. I've just started playing with CakePHP myself and it's great fun. But they don't lend themselves to collaboration, since only the techies are able to get their hands dirty.

In my opinion, using agile development frameworks for interface prototyping is not only widening the gap between design and development. It also takes design out of the hands of the non-techie designers.

What you write about keeping the tech staff in the loop is something I believe most interaction designers are very aware of. It's risky business to propose designs to clients that are technically infeasible.

Henrik Olsen | June 21, 2006


For those of you who still prefer Visio but want to add the documenting feature from Axure, check this out:

Anders | December 21, 2006


Like most of you here, I'm also a fan of Axure. (Though one of my items for the "Bad" list is that there is no Mac version!)

The other thing we've discovered, although this is inherent to most prototyping methods, is that the outputs from Axure tend to be higher fidelity. And so, despite how much you tell the prototype viewer that it's a prototype, they assume it's a finished product. (Not to mention the danger that the horrendous HTML generated in the background could be reused by someone looking for a shortcut!)

Sam Ng | July 11, 2007


Perhaps you should get the clients involved from the wireframe to prototype process. I think if the stakeholders are involved in the low-fidelity to high-fidelity creation process, it demystifies the process and they are aware of what the prototype capabilities are. This should also solve the HTML problem when they understand its just a prototype.

I recently created my personal website in Axure - yes a live site in a prototyping tool. However i published all the annotations along with the site, explaining its just a mockup By leaving the annotations on the prototype, it reminds people of its purpose.

stasiu harrison | October 08, 2008


@Jesper & Henrik:
Most of the times the technical people can (and should) be left out of the loop. Of course they should be consulted before presenting the prototype to the client if some tricky technique was used, but that is all - prototyping is usually best handled by the web useability experts, not programmers.
I am a programmer who is often acting as web useability consultant so I should know. ;)

axter will | December 05, 2008


Hi Henrik,
Great review, many thanks for that.
Have you taken a look at our product GUI Design Studio recently?
Version 3.3 recently released ( with a bunch of new features.
Also it is possible to set up the style to do wireframing which I know you are keen on.
If you, or anyone else, would like to review it, just let us know. Also a 30 day free trial is available.

Chris Steele | May 29, 2009


For those who want a solution for Axure to be collaborative and add comments to pages online. We develop an administration tool to add many function to the prototype.

Régis | June 23, 2009



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