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

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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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