Balsamiq Mockups review

balsamiqWhen you are talking to a customer about the setup of their new SharePoint site or portal, very often they have trouble visualising the structure and look and feel of the interface they will get. Of course, it is rather easy cranking up a virtual machine and prototyping in SharePoint directly, but then you risk that they will focus on the colours and fonts instead of the functionality they will get (you know, the marketing guy saying: “that’s not the blue of our house style!”).

During the SharePoint Best Practices Conference last february, I attended a workshop by Ruven Gotz, and he talked about Balsamiq Mockups as a tool to help you run requirements workshops. I tried it out today, and it really is a great application that any Information Worker consultant should have in his/her toolset.

What I like about it:

  • it is an Adobe Air application, so cross platform (I am testing on my Mac, but will use it on a pc)
  • very simple and intuitive
  • it produces “style independent” mockups, so nobody will complain about colours or fonts, but focus on the functionalities

If you want to know more:

Reasons enough to give it a try. And if this would not be enough, read some more about the company behind this product. In an era of profit, shareholders value, unlimited growth, they got their priorities right.


The value of a great idea

Leopard File Rename Sometimes you see a great function in a software that makes you think: “why didn’t I think of this”? Especially when it is very simple, but so effective.

I just noticed one in Leopard. When you need to rename a file, you often struggle to leave the file extension untouched, and just change the name. Not in Leopard: when you click on a filename to rename it, it does NOT select the extension, just the filename.

Why didn’t I think of this?

Watch it live on


Custom 404 error page in SharePoint

Last week, I was looking for some info on our portal. I used a bookmark that I created, to quickly access the team site I was looking for, but all I got was: 404 file not found. Afterwards, I found out that somebody reorganised the portal and moved the site to another URL.

Two reflections on this:

  • Should you really delete sites in a SharePoint portal? Should you not at least leave a web part page with a message that the information moved to another location?
    This is a common practice in web content management (redirect pages, even better!), why not in a SharePoint portal?
  • Is there a way to have a “friendly” 404 error page? I found out there is a way to have custom error pages, but it is not a very easy procedure to perform, as it even involves some Visual Studio:
    If you are looking for inspiration on what should be on your custom error page, have a look at