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

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  • 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 1 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
      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 2 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
        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 3 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
          -- 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 4 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
            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 5 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
              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 6 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
                > -- 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 7 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
                  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 8 of 15 , Sep 1, 2006
                    --- 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 9 of 15 , Sep 2, 2006
                      --- 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 10 of 15 , Sep 4, 2006
                        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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