In 2009, Briefs began its long, strange journey to the App Store. It took a year of sitting in review, changes to the App Store rules, and a complete re-envisioning requiring a ground-up rewrite, but at midnight last night, Briefs opened its eyes and woke up from its coma.
It has taken a huge amount of work to get to this point. The version of Briefs that's now available on the App Store has taken nine months of active development to create. It had a core team of seven people, but seventeen different developers and designers were directly involved in its creation at different points over the course of those nine months. Other than the design of Brief's icons, which was handled by the awesome folks at Pacific Helm, we did everything in-house. We did both the interaction design and the graphic design. We did the development work. We did the product photography, the website and the promotional videos.
As you can imagine, there were many very late nights along the way. And none of it would have been possible if we didn't have an amazing team of multi-talented, devoted, and generally kick-ass people working for us.
The original Briefs was a tool for testing app designs on a device. The new Briefs is designed to be that, but also much more. The design of the new Briefs grew out of our experiences at MartianCraft working with clients. What we realized after working on many client projects, both big and small, is that clients, designers, and developers don't always speak the same language. Static mockups and traditional design documents rarely communicate everything about an app's design that needs to be communicated. Once development starts, there's always lot of back and forth necessary to clarify intent and to handle issues not dealt with or anticipated by the design documents. This adds time and cost to the development process. Sometimes, it adds a lot of time and cost.
Briefs are more than prototypes. They're also schematics that tell developers exactly how an app should look and behave. They communicate with pixel precision how the app needs to be built.
Briefs can be purchased directly from the Mac App Store. Its companion app, Briefscase, can be downloaded for free from the iOS App Store. Not ready to buy, but curious? Check out the Briefs website, where we have informational videos and a free trial of the app with no time limit. You can also check out reviews by MacStories, iMore, TUAW, and Macworld. If you're interested in the thought process that went into the design of the new Briefs, check out this article Rob wrote for Fast Company.