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Re: [agile-usability] Tools for photo-realistic wireframe prototyping

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  • Josh Seiden
    I assume you want to work to pixel-level accuracy, rather than working at a sketchier level. I find that Fireworks is an excellent tool for this. It combines
    Message 1 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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      I assume you want to work to pixel-level accuracy,
      rather than working at a sketchier level.

      I find that Fireworks is an excellent tool for this.
      It combines good (not great) bitmap editing with good
      (not great) vector editing--so in a sense it's like a
      sweet spot Photoshop+Illustrator.

      The killer feature for prototyping is what Fireworks
      calls "frames." Frames were originally designed to
      allow you to produce simple animated GIFS. But,
      because you can share drawing layers across frames,
      you can produce a UI drawing and manipulate its state
      fairly easily (with each frame representing one
      state.)

      Fireworks also lets you turn objects into "symbols",
      which makes them re-usable. Changing one instance of a
      symbol changes it globally. This makes it easy to
      change the names and appearances or UI elements.

      There was a good discussion of this on the IxDA
      Discuss list last month. Here's a link into the
      archive:

      http://listserver.dreamhost.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.com/2006-August/011057.html

      Note that this tool won't produce a finished
      prototype--just the static images of each state.
      You'll need something to wire them together. I
      sometimes use Axure (www.axure.com) for this, though
      others use Dreamweaver or something more open-ended.

      JS


      --- "Desilets, Alain" <alain.desilets@...>
      wrote:

      > I need to produce a photo-realistic wireframe
      > prototype.
      >
      > What tools do you use to produce those?
      >
      > Thx
      >
      > Alain
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      > agile-usability-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • Fred Beecher
      ... You mean a photo-realistic prototype? Because photo-realistic and wireframe cancel each other out. For photo-realistic prototypes, it s usually a
      Message 2 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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        On 9/1/06, Desilets, Alain <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
        > I need to produce a photo-realistic wireframe prototype.
        >
        > What tools do you use to produce those?

        You mean a photo-realistic prototype? Because photo-realistic and
        wireframe cancel each other out. For photo-realistic prototypes, it's
        usually a combination of Dreamweaver & Photoshop. I'm not big on
        prototyping like this though... I prefer prototyping from (decidedly
        NON-photorealistic) wireframes with Axure, a tool which, I think, has
        a lot of potential for facilitating UCD in an Agile environment
        (http://www.axure.com/)

        - Fred
      • Desilets, Alain
        ... Prototype of what, Alain? -- Alain: A special purpose editor designed for translators. ... I also don t understand the use of wireframe and
        Message 3 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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          Desilets, Alain wrote:
          > I need to produce a photo-realistic wireframe prototype.
          >
          > What tools do you use to produce those?
          >

          Prototype of what, Alain?

          -- Alain:
          A special purpose editor designed for translators.
          ----

          I also don't understand the use of "wireframe" and "photo-realistic"
          together. At least with the designers I work with, a wireframe is a
          low-fidelity imitation of the real thing. E.g.:

          http://www.openinterface.ie/prototype/proto_wire.html

          Allegedly, this term comes from sculpture, where you use a wire frame as

          a skeleton:

          http://www.grokdotcom.com/wireframing.htm

          But I suspect in our industry this comes out of the 3D graphics world:

          http://www.bergen.org/AAST/ComputerAnimation/Graph_Rendering.html


          Could you explain a little more what you're looking for?

          -- Alain:
          I must admit, I was using the term wireframe prototype without really
          knowing what it refered to ;-).

          I mean something that looks like a real GUI, but is just a plain
          drawing, without any functionality behind it.
          ----
        • Desilets, Alain
          I assume you want to work to pixel-level accuracy, rather than working at a sketchier level. -- Alain: Actually, as I think of this more, this is really what I
          Message 4 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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            I assume you want to work to pixel-level accuracy,
            rather than working at a sketchier level.

            -- Alain:
            Actually, as I think of this more, this is really what I need:

            - The mockup must be in electronic form
            - The mockup must be "neat" (i.e. neater than a free-hand drawing), but
            does not have to be photo-realistic. It just has to look professional,
            and clearly communicate what the real thing looks like and how it works.
            - The mockup must be easy to modify
            ----

            I find that Fireworks is an excellent tool for this.
            It combines good (not great) bitmap editing with good
            (not great) vector editing--so in a sense it's like a
            sweet spot Photoshop+Illustrator.

            -- Alain:
            Sounds good.
            ----

            The killer feature for prototyping is what Fireworks
            calls "frames." Frames were originally designed to
            allow you to produce simple animated GIFS. But,
            because you can share drawing layers across frames,
            you can produce a UI drawing and manipulate its state
            fairly easily (with each frame representing one
            state.)

            -- Alain:
            I don't think I'll need animation capabilities.
            ----

            Fireworks also lets you turn objects into "symbols",
            which makes them re-usable. Changing one instance of a
            symbol changes it globally. This makes it easy to
            change the names and appearances or UI elements.

            -- Alain:
            Sounds good. Presumably some people have already created symbols for
            commonly used GUI elements?
            ----

            There was a good discussion of this on the IxDA
            Discuss list last month. Here's a link into the
            archive:

            http://listserver.dreamhost.com/pipermail/discuss-interactiondesigners.c
            om/2006-August/011057.html

            -- Alain:
            Thx. I'll look at that.
            ----

            Note that this tool won't produce a finished
            prototype--just the static images of each state.
            You'll need something to wire them together. I
            sometimes use Axure (www.axure.com) for this, though
            others use Dreamweaver or something more open-ended.

            -- Alain:
            Sounds like what I need.
            ----
          • William Pietri
            ... Great. I gather this is a web app or a desktop app, then, rather than a physical object. ... Heh. My pals use Photoshop for this, but perhaps that s
            Message 5 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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              Desilets, Alain wrote:
              > -- Alain:
              > A special purpose editor designed for translators.
              > ----
              >

              Great. I gather this is a web app or a desktop app, then, rather than a
              physical object.

              > I must admit, I was using the term wireframe prototype without really
              > knowing what it refered to ;-).
              >
              > I mean something that looks like a real GUI, but is just a plain
              > drawing, without any functionality behind it.
              >

              Heh. My pals use Photoshop for this, but perhaps that's because when
              they got started that was the only real option. I see from Fred and Josh
              there are other options that are task-specific and probably a lot more
              novice-friendly.

              If it will turn into a physical object, I hear great things about
              SketchUp. My brother, who makes furniture, raves about using it to do
              prototypes for clients. For novices, it's radically easier to use than
              the other 3D tools I have tried. And you can't beat the price.

              William
            • Josh Seiden
              -- Alain: Actually, as I think of this more, this is really what I need: - The mockup must be in electronic form - The mockup must be neat (i.e. neater than
              Message 6 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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                -- Alain:
                Actually, as I think of this more, this is really what
                I need:

                - The mockup must be in electronic form
                - The mockup must be "neat" (i.e. neater than a
                free-hand drawing), but
                does not have to be photo-realistic. It just has to
                look professional,
                and clearly communicate what the real thing looks like
                and how it
                works.
                - The mockup must be easy to modify
                ----

                Josh:
                Looking at this list, I think there is some tension
                between "neat" and "communicate what the real thing
                looks like." These are not the same.

                If you want it to look neat, try axure, powerpoint,
                visio. If you want it to look finished, try Fireworks,
                Illustrator, Photoshop. (Although you can produce
                sketchy looking work in this second category of
                software, it's tempting to spend a lot of twiddly time
                on appearance with these tools.)

                -- Alain:
                I don't think I'll need animation capabilities.
                ----

                Josh: Just to clarify--the frames enable animation,
                but they also enable a lot of other goodness. For
                interaction design, they allow you to manage
                multi-state drawings, which few tools do at all (and
                none do well IMHO.)

                JS
              • Fredrik Matheson
                I usually lay out a huge sheet in Illustrator (10.000 x 10.000 pixels) with a gray background and create screen flows with fairly realistic mockups of the
                Message 7 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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                  I usually lay out a huge sheet in Illustrator (10.000 x 10.000 pixels) with a gray background and create screen flows with fairly realistic mockups of the design. The huge size means I don't run out of space and can show lots of concurrent processes.

                  It's easy to distribute as a PDF and not too hard to print.

                  For detail work like buttons I might use photoshop and bring those images in for extra detail. When our graphic designers create a full-resolution mockup I usually re-do the psd-file and bring bits and pieces into illustrator, it's much, much easier to move stuff around in there. Illustrator also has pixel preview, which makes things look pretty much as the would on the screen.

                  Also, projecting the sketches onto a whiteboard, sketching with the client and taking a picture of the result - and translating this back into the illustrator file - helps communication.

                  If you have a little library of buttons, boxes and other UI elements it's easy to put something together pretty quickly, but it won't be interactive, of course.
                • Fred Beecher
                  ... Yep, that s Axure. It s a bit clunky, interface-wise, but it s capabilities are worth all the clicking. I ve used Axure for lots of projects so far, so if
                  Message 8 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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                    On 9/1/06, Desilets, Alain <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Actually, as I think of this more, this is really what I need:
                    >
                    > - The mockup must be in electronic form
                    > - The mockup must be "neat" (i.e. neater than a free-hand drawing), but
                    > does not have to be photo-realistic. It just has to look professional,
                    > and clearly communicate what the real thing looks like and how it works.
                    > - The mockup must be easy to modify

                    Yep, that's Axure. It's a bit clunky, interface-wise, but it's
                    capabilities are worth all the clicking. I've used Axure for lots of
                    projects so far, so if you want to know more about what it's like
                    working with it, feel free to ask me. Also, their support is
                    incredibly good. They respond to issues and questions very rapidly.

                    - Fred
                  • Desilets, Alain
                    ... Great. I gather this is a web app or a desktop app, then, rather than a physical object. -- Alain: That s right. I m not much of a handy man ;-).
                    Message 9 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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                      > -- Alain:
                      > A special purpose editor designed for translators.
                      > ----
                      >

                      Great. I gather this is a web app or a desktop app, then, rather than a
                      physical object.

                      -- Alain:
                      That's right. I'm not much of a handy man ;-).
                      ----
                    • Ilen Zazueta-Hall
                      De-lurking to second the recommendation on Axure. It s clunky but robust and allows rapid, semi-functional html prototyping of just about anything. Combine
                      Message 10 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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                        De-lurking to second the recommendation on Axure. It's clunky but robust and allows rapid, semi-functional html prototyping of just about anything. Combine  its custom widgets/masters features with copying and pasting from the graphics editor of your choice and you get something more than a wireframe with minimal effort.

                        I'm curious to know if anybody else uses this type of "pretty" wireframes??

                        Recognizing the oxymoron, I've nevertheless found these documents (somewhere between a wireframe, an html prototype and a screen mock up) to be a very effective bridge between engineering and business users.

                        Regards,

                        --Ilen

                      • Dave Churchville
                        ... If you re planning to use Photoshop, Fireworks, etc. to make static images, you might be interested in EasyPrototype (http://www.easyprototype.com). It s
                        Message 11 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
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                          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Desilets, Alain"
                          <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > I need to produce a photo-realistic wireframe prototype.
                          >
                          > What tools do you use to produce those?

                          If you're planning to use Photoshop, Fireworks, etc. to make static
                          images, you might be interested in EasyPrototype
                          (http://www.easyprototype.com).

                          It's designed to take static images (hand-drawn or pixel-perfect) and
                          make it easy to wire them together to make an interactive prototype,
                          or generate a specification in MS Word.

                          I normally do paper sketches, then just scan them, load them in, and
                          label and link the pages together - it's actually kind of fun.

                          (Disclaimer: My company makes the product, so I'm a bit biased here).

                          --Dave

                          David Churchville
                          http://www.extremeplanner.com/blog
                        • Ron Vutpakdi
                          ... I use Canvas from ACD Systems (formerly from Deneba Software) for my wireframes and mockups. Canvas is a jack of all trades graphics package that is a
                          Message 12 of 15 , Sep 2, 2006
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                            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Desilets, Alain"
                            <alain.desilets@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > I assume you want to work to pixel-level accuracy,
                            > rather than working at a sketchier level.
                            >
                            > -- Alain:
                            > Actually, as I think of this more, this is really what I need:
                            >
                            > - The mockup must be in electronic form
                            > - The mockup must be "neat" (i.e. neater than a free-hand drawing), but
                            > does not have to be photo-realistic. It just has to look professional,
                            > and clearly communicate what the real thing looks like and how it works.
                            > - The mockup must be easy to modify

                            I use Canvas from ACD Systems (formerly from Deneba Software) for my
                            wireframes and mockups. Canvas is a jack of all trades graphics
                            package that is a combination of functionality found in Illustrator,
                            Photoshop, and some light page layout capabilities.

                            Depending on the need, I can create wireframes using solely the vector
                            and text capabilities or "photo realistic mockups" by adding in bitmap
                            level functionality.

                            For distribution, I create multiple page PDFs. These days, I've been
                            experimenting with adding (limited) clickable navigation to each
                            mockup so that if the user clicks on what looks like a button (that
                            launches a dialog) or tab, the document changes to the page of the
                            document which shows the interface as if the user really did click on
                            that button or tab.

                            On Wednesday, when my manager returns from vacation, I'll ask if I can
                            distribute a short example of one of my documents.

                            Ron
                          • Miinalainen, Petteri
                            Well, first i call only simple wireframes as wireframes... Photorealistic stuff is usually called hifi prototype (if it s clickable) or visualized storyboard
                            Message 13 of 15 , Sep 4, 2006
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                              Well, first i call only simple wireframes as wireframes... Photorealistic stuff is usually called hifi prototype (if it's clickable) or visualized storyboard or scenario if it's only a sequence of photorealistic screenshots without any functionality.
                               
                              I usually only produce one or two photorealistic screens to show the visual appearance and produce lofi wireframe of the rest.
                              Only when the visual appearance and overall structure of screens and associated screen flows have been fixed, we produce the rest of screens usually with html or IDE GUI tools.
                               
                              So, to try to answer your question.
                              1. for photorealistic screens: either photoshop or fireworks is used to create photorealistic screen pictures
                              2. for wireframes: visio, pen & paper, powerpoint, freehand, whiteboard and digicam etc etc.
                              3. based on those, a basic set of screens is produced in html or with development environments gui tools ( screen types, templates). In some cases a formal documentation is created to describe the various screen types. This is kinda slow and can not usually be considered as very agile, but it sure does bring some accuracy...
                              For web development, dreamweaver and well-designed css is often fastest way to create photorealistic screens after the initial creation. They have the added benefit of being reusable as basis for final applications ui code.
                              4. developers usually finish the rest of the required screens based on the screen types (list, search, drill-down,...) in collaboration with ui designer
                               
                               
                              Lately i've been wondering about using axure rp pro for creating simultaneously wireframe, prototype and user interface specification.
                              check it out www.axure.com
                               
                              other tools worth checking out
                              MockupScreens at http://mockupscreens.com/
                              tools for creating wireframes
                              tools for creating annotated prototypes and specifications on top of pictures. Pictures can be digital shots of whiteboard doodles or sophisticated and elaborate screen images made with photoshop et al. You just create the annotation overlay with this application.
                               
                               
                              Petteri
                               
                               


                              From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Desilets, Alain
                              Sent: 1. syyskuuta 2006 17:30
                              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                              Subject: [agile-usability] Tools for photo-realistic wireframe prototyping

                              I need to produce a photo-realistic wireframe prototype.

                              What tools do you use to produce those?

                              Thx

                              Alain

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