While most engineers concern themselves only with the behavior of materials, machines, and the environment as they are affected by physical laws, user interface engineers also must consider the behavior of humans as they interact with materials, machines, and the environment. The human-machine interaction is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the industrial field, as technology permeates every avenue of life. Thus, user interface engineers are responsible for making sure people can interact with technology-driven products in an effective manner.

Hundreds of companies are producing tools, products, software, and applications to make user interface engineers’ jobs more manageable. The technology, however, must work for the engineer in order to be effective, and we have searched for the top UI tools that do just that. User interface engineers cannot afford to get bogged down with the technology or the processes involved in building cost-effective products that meet users’ needs and expectations.

We have chosen tools for their ability to streamline the user interface engineers’ workflow, to allow the engineers to control the objects and connect the code quickly and easily, to promote collaboration among UI engineering team members, to deliver better prototypes that reduce production costs, and to create more realistic models and simulations. We also have included some of the most robust CAD programs that allow for comprehensive 3D design, documentation, and simulation by UI engineers. Our top 25 UI tools for user interface engineers are listed here, in no particular order.

This guide was developed by Pannam Imaging, membrane switch technologies

1. Atmel Qtouch

Atmel Qtouch

Altium Limited, a software company providing PC-based electronics design software for engineers, offers Atmel Qtouch. With Atmel QTouch, UI engineers use the Altium Designer’s platform-based data model to link all aspects of electronics product design into one process and in a single application.

Key Features:

  • Easily add touch buttons, sliders and wheels to schematics and PCB layout
  • The fastest touch development solution on the market
  • Select and place from a range of configurable component types
  • Configure your touch component and change the type as required
  • Customize parameters
  • Initiate and control the ECO process
  • Reconfigure at any time and sync between SCH and PCB

Cost: Contact for a quote

2. Altia Design

Altia Design

Altia Design, “the centerpiece of Altia’s tool-chain,” is a detailed, completely functional, fully integrated interface that engineers turn into deployable code. With Altia Design, UI engineers also completely control custom objects and then connect to application code or simulations.

Key Features:

  • Describe animation, stimulus and behavior without programming
  • Easily implement and verify product specifications and changes
  • Can start with PhotoProto output, static images, pre-built Altia library components, or build from scratch
  • Altia Design output has several uses, including a fully functional, interactive stand-alone virtual prototype, front-end to a simulation model, software GUI connected to application code, and more

Cost: Contact for a quote

3. Nucleus Add-on for the Qt Framework

Nucleus Add-on for the Qt framework

For UI engineers looking for an open source solution for creating rich UIs based on the open source Qt Project, Nucleus Add-on for the Qt application framework is a smart choice. According to Mentor Graphics, “the Nucleus port of the Qt framework provides access to widely deployed technology, cross-platform support, and access to a large development community of more than 450,000 developers in over 70 countries.”

Key Features:

  • An integrated UI development tool
  • Support for key Qt library modules
  • Host based UI development and simulations
  • A footprint management tool
  • System Level Trace and Analysis Visualization

Cost: Contact for a quote

4. GrabCAD


GrabCAD is known for its role as a leader in the Open Engineering movement, and it aims to help engineers speed up the process of getting products to the market by enabling collaborative product development. Specifically, GrabCAD Workbench allows teams on any CAD system to sync local CAD files to cloud projects, track versions, and lock files to prevent conflicts. For UI engineers working in teams, GrabCAD Workbench is a must-have collaboration tool.

Key Features:

  • Full set of file management and collaboration tools
  • User-controlled desktop sync
  • Download as neutral format
  • Works inside your CAD system
  • Revision management
  • Markup and communication tools
  • Data security
  • Mobile application

Cost: FREE 14-day Pro plan trial

  • Pro: $59/user/month paid annually, or $70/user/month paid monthly – ideal for mid-sized companies or small teams, unlimited project limit, 25GB online storage, file size limit 2GB/file
  • Enterprise: $89/user/month paid annually, or $107/user/month paid monthly – ideal for larger companies with more complex IT or administrative requirements, unlimited project limit, unlimited online storage, file size limit 5GB/file
  • Pilot package: Contact for quote – dedicated expert to kickstart your project, structured onboarding process customized to your needs, regular reviews to ensure success

5. Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk Inventor, 3D CAD software, provides easy-to-use tools for 3D design, documentation, and product simulation. UI engineers can design and validate products with Inventor’s Digital Prototyping to deliver better products, reduce development costs, and get to market more quickly.


  • Freeform modeling shape creation
  • Large assembly design
  • Sketch constraint control
  • Layout and system design
  • Flexible sketching tools
  • BIM compatibility
  • Manufacturing and design documentation
  • Data management


  • Inventor 2015: Contact for a quote
  • Inventor Professional 2015: Perpetual license – $8,390
  • Factory Design Suite Ultimate 2015: Contact for a quote
  • Product Design Suite Ultimate 2015: Contact for a quote



Based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, CATIA offers “a unique Digital Product Experience” for users. CATIA 3D Master is 3D CAD design software that allows UI engineers to focus on sustainable development.

Key Features:

  • Industrial design, Class-A, advanced surface modeling
  • Reduces the time to perform 3D modeling changes
  • A unified, integrated approach to systems engineering
  • Design, collaborate, simulate, and validate model-based embedded stems applications across multi-disciplinary teams

Cost: Contact for a quote

7. SketchUp


SketchUp Pro is the choice of hundreds of thousands of professionals who need an all-purpose solution to complicated, expensive CAD software. UI engineers appreciate SketchUp Pro’s range of tools that span the simplest to most complex of tasks.

Key Features:

  • Accurate measurements
  • Copying and arrays
  • Edges and faces
  • Innovative, do-everything Follow Me tool
  • Inferencing
  • Push/pull
  • Solid tools


  • SketchUp Pro 2015: $590 – non-expiring license for SketchUp Pro and LayOut
  • Corporate purchasing: contact for a quote suitable for enterprise or network license purchases

8. Kompas-3D


UI engineers choose KOMPAS-3D when looking for a flexible 3D modeling system to create models using several methods, including bottom-up modeling using finished components, top-down modeling by designing components to match specific designs, modeling based on layout drawings, or a combination of these modeling methods. The result is an editable associative model.

Key Features:

  • Supports all capabilities of 3D solids and surface modeling
  • Associative settings for element parameters
  • Advanced surface and shape modeling
  • Component modeling with assemblies, with relative positioning of parts in assemblies

Cost: Contact for a quote

9. Rhino 3D

Rhino 3D

After a five-year development period geared toward removing workflow bottlenecks and working to make Rhino faster and capable of handling much larger models and project teams, Rhino 5 is available as “the most stable version ever.” With more than 3,500 enhancements and 40,000 pre-release users, Rhino 5 is a popular choice among UI engineers.

Key Features:

  • New tools for editing and object creation
  • Hundreds of new and enhanced editing commands
  • Dozens of refinements to existing modeling tools with new commands and new lightweight extrusion objects
  • Enhanced support for large point clouds and plug-ins such as RhinoTerrain

Cost: All prices are for a single user; use The Zoo to share licenses free of charge

  • Rhino/Flamingo/Penguin/Bongo Bundle: $1695
  • Rhino/Flamingo Bundle: $1295
  • Rhino/Brazil Bundle: $1495
  • Full Rhino 5 for Windows: $995
  • Upgrade from any version Rhino 5 for Windows: $495

10. IronCAD


IronCAD, “the leading provider of Innovative Design Collaboration Solutions,” strives to provide productivity and design freedom for all of its users, including UI engineers. IronCAD is a popular choice for engineers facing tight deadlines and expecting high levels of unanticipated changes because “it provides a revolutionary replacement to today’s history-based parametric-only systems.”

Key Features:

  • Seamlessly integrated design tools that are intuitive and user friendly
  • Innovative and structured design
  • Model data exchange
  • Customer communication tools include photorealistic rendering, 3D/2D PDF, web publishing of models, and a standalone 3D viewer
  • Design validation

Cost: Contact for a quote

11. TurboCAD


TurboCAD offers a wide selection of CAD solutions perfect for UI engineers, including TurboCAD Windows products and TurboCAD Macintosh products. TurboCAD Pro Platinum is the premium, professional CAD package. TurboCAD Pro Platinum includes all of the technology for drafting, detailing, modeling, rendering, and extensive file sharing, plus advanced tools for design, making it a top choice for enterprises that promote collaboration among its engineering team members.

Key Features:

  • More than 30 new features and major improvements to every area of the program
  • Extract custom data from property sets and/or custom properties and export to the newly supported IFC format
  • Faster drafting and detailing with new Auto-Shapes, Arrow Tools, and more
  • 3D modeling with ACIS R24 3D solid modeling engine
  • More ways to share work with the latest AutoCAD DXF/DWG file filters, new SketchUP 2013 SKP filters, and new IFC export


  • TurboCAD Pro Platinum 21 Download or DVD: $1695
  • TurboCAD Pro Platinum Annual Subscription: $499
  • Upgrade from TurboCAD or TurboCAD Pro Platinum version 20: $299.99
  • Upgrade from TurboCAD or TurboCAD Pro Platinum version 19: $399.99
  • Upgrade from TurboCAD or TurboCAD Pro Platinum version 18: $499.99
  • Legacy Upgrade (TurboCAD Pro or Platinum version 17-12): $799.99

12. Patran


Patran is “the world’s most widely used pre/post-processing software for Finite Element Analysis (FEA), providing solid modeling, meshing, analysis setup and post-processing for multiple solvers including MSC Nastran, Marc, Abaqus, LS-DYNA, ANSYS, and Pam-Crash.” Patran’s complete FEA modeling solution ensures that UI engineers’ virtual prototypes provide fast results for evaluating product performance against requirements and optimizing designs.

Key Features:

  • Direct access of CAD geometry
  • Advanced geometry creation, editing and feature recognition
  • Support for multiple FEA solvers
  • Post-processing and reporting tools for easy results evaluation
  • Patran command language

Cost: Contact for a quote

13. MapleSim


MapleSim is an advanced system-level modeling solution that “applies modern techniques to reduce development time, provide greater insight into system behavior, and produce fast, high-fidelity simulations.” With MapleSim, UI engineers are able to build even the most sophisticated of systems while still minimizing development time and costs.

Key Features:

  • Powerful symbolic and numeric math engine
  • Multidomain modeling with built-in components
  • Drag-and-drop physical modeling environment
  • Equation-based custom components
  • Integration with your toolchain
  • Units management
  • Automated knowledge capture

Cost: Contact for a quote

14. KeyCreator

Key Creator

KeyCreator Direct CAD is a popular choice among UI engineers who want a flexible way to quickly create, change, analyze, or communicate a mechanical part or design. A comprehensive Direct CAD software, KeyCreator allows users to “master your geometry.”

Key Features:

  • Modify nearly any geometry
  • Never experience rebuilding errors; create geometry in real time
  • Compare CAD models to identify and organize IS/WAS design changes and communicate findings via automated PDF reporting
  • Export CAD files in multiple formats
  • Import CAD models from other software packages and make edits directly to the geometry

Cost: Contact for a quote

15. SolidFace


SolidFace Professional, a 2D/3D parametric historic constructive CAD modeler, also allows UI engineers and other users to complete project creation entirely in 2D. Because SolidFace is the result of Parasolid Siemens 3D modeler core and 15 years of UniCAD 2D/3D development, it has powerful detailing, solid modeling, assembly, and parameterization capabilities.

Key Features:

  • Part module – Automatically creates parametric reference for modeling features that can be edited simply and interactively
  • Assembly module – Build assemblies using modeled parts and subassemblies
  • Drawing module – Insert parts and assemblies into the drawing module to generate automatic orthographic, sections and details views
  • 3D direct modeling
  • 2D/3D movement simulation


  • SolidFace Drawing 2D Lifetime License: $399 – complete 2D module, 1 year online support, unlimited free updates, free 2D tutorials, 1 year free webinar access, 30% discount on 1+ year live training
  • SolidFace Professional Renewal: $399 – 12-18 months, 1 year online support, unlimited free updates, complete list bug fixes, new modules added, new features
  • SolidFace Professional 2D/3D Lifetime License: $999 – 1 year online support, unlimited free updates, free 2D/3D tutorials, 1 year free webinar access, 30% discount on live training

16. Space Claim

Space Claim

SpaceClaim, “the world’s fastest and most innovative 3D direct modeler,” aims to make technology work for UI engineers. With SpaceClaim, working with 3D models is less complicated because users can create, edit, or repair geometry without spending time on the underlying technology.

Key Features:

  • Edit, repair, and create any geometry
  • Increase productivity by removing the CAD bottleneck in the workflow
  • Manipulate geometry faster, easier, and more intuitively and dedicate more time to primary job functions like analysis and concept modeling

Cost: Contact for a quote

17. Scheme-It


UI engineers choose Scheme-It as a solution for drawing circuit diagrams. The online schematic and diagramming tool allows users to build and share electronic circuit diagrams and includes a comprehensive electronic symbol library and integrated Digi-Key component catalog allowing for a wide range of circuit diagrams.

Key Features:

  • Diagram at the block, icon, system, or schematic level
  • Library of more than 700 generic symbols, plus allows for custom symbol creation
  • Access to over 4 million components via Digi-Key Catalog integration
  • Keep designs private, make them public, share them via links, or embed them in web pages, blogs, or emails
  • Rapid design evolution via Bill of Material import capability
  • Export into PDF or PNG files


  • FREE to use as a guest
  • FREE registration – Registered users are able to share and save designs

18. Fritzing


A free software tool, Fritzing supports designers and UI engineers who work creatively with interactive electronics. As part of the open-source hardware initiative, Fritzing offers a software tool, community website, and services that allow users to document prototypes, share them with others, teach electronics in a classroom, and layout and manufacture professional PCBs. UI engineers often use Fritzing Fab to easily and inexpensively turn their circuits into a custom-made PCB.

Key Features:

  • Upgraded to Qt5.2.1
  • ADI analog parts
  • Intel Galileo
  • Arduino Yún
  • Linino One
  • ChipKIT WF32, MX4 and shields
  • Spark Core
  • Atlas Scientific sensors
  • Raspberry Pi versions (A, B, B rev2)
  • Teensy 3.0/3.1


  • Fritzing 0.9.0b: FREE
  • Fritzing Fab PCB Production Pricing
    • 0-50 sq. cm: approx. $0.96/sq. cm
    • 50-100 sq. cm: approx. $0.83/sq. cm
    • 100-200 sq. cm: approx. $0.69/sq. cm
    • 200-500 sq. cm: approx. $0.55/sq. cm
    • 501-1000 sq. cm: approx. $0.48/sq. cm
    • 1000+ sq. cm: Contact for a quote

19. MicroEJ Embedded UI

MicroEJ embedded UI

IS2T is known for providing innovative software solutions for embedded systems, and MicroEJ Embedded UI is a popular extension choice among UI engineers. IS2T’s embedded UI is a “set of libraries that extends the functionalities of MicroEJ Java platform with a flexible User Interface development solution for embedded systems.”

Key Features:

  • Quickly and easily design cross-platform Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) independently from operating system and hardware configurations
  • Includes user-friendly tools for improving your application’s user experience
  • Full-featured IDE supports visualization screens, any size and type of display, 1 to 32-bits color management, dynamic look and feel changes, and more

Cost: Contact for a quote

20. Storyboard Suite

Storyboard Suite

Crank Software’s tools and services enable UI engineers to develop embedded user interfaces more quickly, efficiently, and successfully. Crank Software’s Storyboard Suite provides UI engineers with an even better way to “do embedded UI development, from start to finish.”

Key Features:

  • Easily prototype the look and fell of a product
  • Move the UI prototype directly to the embedded target for deployment
  • Photoshop import
  • Animation timeline
  • Desktop simulation
  • Team collaboration

Cost: FREE 30 day evaluation available

  • Contact for a quote

21. Renesas Embedded GUI Solution Kit

Renesas Embedded GUI Solution Kit

Renesas Electronics is the result of the 2010 merger between NEC Electronics and Renesas Technology and strives to respond to customer needs with the company’s creative power and technology innovations. Thee Renesas Embedded GUI Solution Kit stays true to Renesas’ mission because it offers a quick and easy way for UI engineers to add cost-efficient LCD touch screens to any embedded designs.

Key Features:

  • Hardware based on RX Direct Drive LCD (DDLCD) technology
  • Provides the performance required to handle the GUI and other functions at the same time
  • Multiple GUI software development options are available for starting development efforts

Cost: Approx. $199

22. easyGUI


Available from IBIS Solutions, easyGUI allows for more creative development with less difficult programming. easyGUI includes a complete graphical library in plain C code, plus all necessary graphical routines, making it easier for UI engineers to complete their jobs more efficiently.

Key Features:

  • Supports virtually all monochrome, grayscale, and color display controllers
  • Independent of kernel/OS
  • Supports ANSI C compiler systems
  • Multi-language applications
  • Rapid prototyping through easySIM PC simulator


  • easyGUI Monochrome version 6: €929 – 3 months complimentary easyGUI support plan and a dongle license
  • easyGUI Color version 6: €1439 – 3 months complimentary easyGUI support plan and a dongle license
  • easyGUI Unicode version 6: €1919 – 3 months complimentary easyGUI support plan and a dongle license

23. Disko Framework

Disko Framework

An LGPL-licensed user interface framework, Disko allows UI engineers to build flexible applications quickly and easily. Specifically, Disko Framework is an embedded Linux UI Framework.

Key Features:

  • Flexible GUI development
  • Event-based communication
  • Multilingual
  • Media rich UIs and effects

Cost: FREE

24. PEG Pro


PEG Pro is a software solution for UI engineers who want to create complex, high-color depth embedded graphic applications. PEG Pro is intended for use “in the development of GUI applications in automotive, consumer electronics, infotainment and medical devices” and runs on a variety of real-time operating systems and microprocessors.

Key Features:

  • Supports the key features and advanced applications demanded by interactive devices
  • Accelerates product delivery by providing comprehensive functionality such as drag-and-drop visual development tools and the ability to start development on Windows or Linux platforms
  • Provides run-time selection of themes to allow end-users to tailor their experience
  • Written with the embedded market in mind, so the value of every feature is weighed against code size and performance requirements for that feature


  • PEG Lite: FREE on Freescale Silicon or 10K runtime license starting cost: $6000 – monochrome to 65 K high color, buttons and images, dual language, simple anti-aliasing, full WYSIWYG editor with integrated font capture and image converter
  • PEG Plus: 10K runtime license starting cost: $7000 – monochrome to 16.7M true color, adds widgets and animation, full multi-lingual, simple anti-aliasing, full WYSIWYG editor with integrated font capture and image converter, runtime themes/skins, and runtime image decoding
  • PEG Pro: 10K runtime license starting cost: $7500 – 65K high color to 16.7M true color with alpha, widgets and animation, full multi-lingual, true anti-aliasing, ull WYSIWYG editor with integrated font capture and image converter, swipe detection, and alpha blending

25. Kanzi UI

Kanzi UI

The Kanzi UI Solution from Rightware, “the leader in interactive 2D and 3D UI software,” is an advanced design and deployment solution for automotive, mobile, and consumer devices. Kanzi is a comprehensive solution that includes UI design tools, runtime and complimentary libraries that separates the designer and engineering tasks across the workflow, making it a great solution for UI development teams.

Key Features:

  • Provides a real-time WYSIWYG editor for UI designers and embedded engineers
  • Work through mock-ups with 3D content placeholders to interactive experiences refined in look and performance
  • Create UI projects with multiple profiles for different targets
  • Import 2D and 3D assets from DCC tools using COLLADA, png, jpeg, and psd
  • Create interactivity with UI components and messages using interaction events and actions

Cost: Contact for a quote

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