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Friday, 9 January 2015

Unity 4.6 - 14 tips to choose your UI System. New Unity uGUI vs NGUI.



Unity 4.6 new graphical user interface system (uGUI) has been with us already for a while now and I have been personally using it since the beta. Time has came to make a fair review about it and its bigger competitor, NGUI. Tasharen NGUI has many years of advantage over uGUI, way before even native 2D in Unity.


I will spoil the whole post saying the obvious already... NGUI is better than uGUI in pretty much everything that you could develop at the moment. Myself I held high expectations and I felt disappointed about it. Then why am I writing this? I would like you to make a wise decision for the future projects :)

uGUI vs NGUI. Everything is always explained with animals... :)

uGUI


Why should I learn to use it and put it into production?

PROS:
  • New and fresh: a new world of possibilities to create your own expansions and possible business opportunities in the Asset Store.
  • Unity new standard: sooner or later uGUI will be the best option for UI creation simply because it is backed by Unity itself.
  • Free: for many people out there, this is a heavy reason. If you are just a hobbyist you don't even need to think about it twice.
  • Event System and Raycasters: one of the best things that came with Unity 4.6 in my opinion. Can be used for other things appart UI.

CONS:
  • Very limited: it is still very early to see the power of the new uGUI, so far we can only see the potential.
  • Not many people use it yet: if you go for uGUI you will find out that finding questions without answers on the internet is painfully frequent.
  • Somehow awkward to use: this is a personal one, but uGUI doesn't feel as integrated into the Unity as it should be and you have the feeling of working with an early version of an Asset Store plugin. :(

NGUI

Why should invest on it more time and money?
PROS:
  • A veteran: NGUI out stand in every possible feature to uGUI and the plus is that plenty of examples will help you to implement faster.
  • Unity old standard: the king of the UI in Unity so far, with the greatest community you will not have trouble finding help.
  • Stable and up to date: NGUI is constantly fixing bugs and what is more, integrating new Unity functionality with every patch. That means that NGUI will continue to grow thanks to uGUI.
  • Many complex component that works out of the box: that's it, the most common UI setups are already implemented in a flexible way so in most of the times you just need to combine them.

CONS:
  • Has expire date: one day it will stop to receive updates and most of the people will be using uGUI at that time.
  • Performance capped: it doesn't matter how optimised NGUI will be, uGUI will be always an step ahead.
  • Paid: money is money. It can be a high investment if you are an individual or you just want to compare to other options

Conclusion

In my opinion both systems can live together in a project, but you will realise their strenghts and weaknesses after you tried them both. My personal recommendation is that you use uGUI if you are interested in creating tools for the Asset Store (or just your budget is 0)... if you want to make money with your games, go for NGUI. :)

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