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Visual mock-up tools are a great benefit when starting a project so that you can work with a client to understand their needs and begin the design process.  Many of these tools are expensive and/or complex to use.  Telerik has made AppMock available for free for designing Windows 8 modern style applications.  This is where I ran into my first problem with the app.  The free aspect is misleading.  It is free for you to layout your interface, but if you want to save it for later it will cost you $2.99.  I would have much rather have had it stated in the store that this was a try/buy model than having you get into using the app only to find out that there was a cost associated with what seems like a basic feature.

The overall interface is easy to use.  It is basically a drag and drop UI with a number of controls, shapes and ways to make notes about usage.  The control set is complete enough for basic development.  I did find a couple of things that I would like improved.  If there was an easy way to change the buttons on the app bar control or at the very least an easy way to edit the background and line colors of shapes it would go a long way to showing customers complete concepts.

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One strange thing I ran into was with the zoom feature but it is related specifically to how I have my environment setup.  I am using a laptop with a Windows 8 mouse that allows gesturing.  I found that sometimes I would accidentally activate the scroll zooming functionality of the app and had no way to get it back to the original state easily.  While this is aggravating I was able to get around it by simply using my touchpad for this app.

In the end I think that this app has a lot of promise.  It has most of the features that I think people would appreciate when doing basic app design with the few exceptions that I noted above.  The great thing is that since this is a Windows 8 app Telerik can easily update the app at any time and make it even better.  I would say that if you are starting to develop Windows 8 apps you should definitely give AppMock a try.

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