In order to teach oneself any new tool or process it can be quite instructive to attempt to duplicate a work that already exists and has been successfully produced. This is the way famous artists of the past including Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci have learned and mastered their craft.Well, following in the steps of these great masters, I decided to teach myself the ins and outs of the open source wireframing/prototyping/web mockup tool called both Evolus Pencil and “Pencil Project”. I decided to try to model my WordPress dashboard (CMS backend) using the free Pencil program to see what it could do.
The goal was not perfection, but to approximate the look and feel and layout of a WordPress backend view, so I used the Sketchy UI components.
The issues I ran into were numerous and I would not recommend Evolus for anything but very, very rudimentary wireframing. Some of the gotchas I found were:
- Can rotate, but can’t FLIP objects
- Software is very laggy
- Appears to be based on Chromium and has access to Chrome Dev Tools, but fails to actually affect the drawing
- Even if font exists on your computer Pencil can’t always display dingbat characters
- There is no “insert special character” like in Photoshop
Pencil was a good idea and seems to have been created by Vietnamese developers who stopped supporting or updating the software around 2019, perhaps due to Covid-19.
I would not recommend Evolus Pencil because there is no support, the software is missing key features, and the project has been abandoned. The whole point is to use desktop software that doesn’t require internet access (so no cloud). I will keep looking for open source desktop alternatives, but for now I will use my ancient Adobe InDesign CS6 that is still going strong.