Konfabulator

14 Jun 2004 - 6:07am
10 years ago
1 reply
452 reads
Jason Moore
2004

Hi,

I've been playing with a nifty application called "Konfabulator"[1] for
the past few weeks, and I'm wondering how relevant it is for other
interaction designers.

It's a little environment that allows people to run "widgets", which
are mini-applications. (e.g. show the weather in Paris, a clock with
the time in san francisco) But, what I love is that a widget is just
some graphics and an XML file, so you can easily modify other people's
widgets or write your own.

I'm thinking Konfabulator is a good way to prototype interfaces; either
a physical ones (e.g. a tv remote, an alarm clock) or screen based-ones
(e.g. an mp3 player).

Now, what I'm wondering is if writing these types of widgets (or any
high-fidelity prototypes) would be something that should be in the
skill-set of an interaction designer? It requires basic programming
skills (enough to clearly specify "interactions") and some basic
graphics skills to communicate how the product will look and work. Is
this a deliverable that anyone calling themselves an "interaction
designer" should be able to produce for a client?

:jason

[1] http://www.konfabulator.com/
(Only runs on Mac OS X currently.)

Comments

14 Jun 2004 - 11:16pm
Anonymous

I see that no one has replied so i thought i might do the honours :)

I graduate from university in a week so i can't really speak about
industry practice but...

It’s my expectation that knowing a little about coding would be quite
beneficial - although it stands to reason that being disciplined in both
software engineering and interaction design would be better than being
disciplined in either one of those alone.

At university we were shown how to use a program called Macromedia
Director for the purpose of prototyping interfaces and IMO it's a very
useful skill. Director performs a similar function to konfabulator but
uses Macromedia's own scripting language called Lingo. I personally
think Lingo is easier to grasp than javascript (used by konfabulator)
but that's pretty subjective.

I found it very useful when running user tests on my designs to have a
simple Director prototype that i could use to walk a user through.
Sometimes i even went as far as to build a prototype of an application
that a user could interact with by themselves while i quietly observed.
Having said that, the most useful (and quickest!) prototype i made was
one that consisted of every screen of the application printed out on
paper. The participant would point to the option they would like to use
and i would show them the next "screen" (piece of paper). These screens
were just text without pictures. I find that if a user is shown a
prototype with a lot of detail in respect to layout they focus too much
on how aesthetic things are rather than how easy they are to use. It’d
be nice to think that people could tell you both the graphical
deficiencies as well as the functional ones at the same time but it’s
never worked that way for me.

Finally, having said ALL of that, in class presentations, /generally/
the project that grabbed the most attention and got the highest mention
was the same project with the highest graphical appeal and the most
interactivity - this is in spite of the actual goal of the project. I’m
not sure if that’s how it works in the Real World, maybe someone on the
list could clarify :). If it is however, then being able to make a nice
pretty demo to show the client is going to get your project funded
before anyone else’s – particularly if the projects are similar in their
goals..

Jason Moore wrote:

> Hi,
>
> I've been playing with a nifty application called "Konfabulator"[1]
> for the past few weeks, and I'm wondering how relevant it is for other
> interaction designers.
>
> It's a little environment that allows people to run "widgets", which
> are mini-applications. (e.g. show the weather in Paris, a clock with
> the time in san francisco) But, what I love is that a widget is just
> some graphics and an XML file, so you can easily modify other people's
> widgets or write your own.
>
> I'm thinking Konfabulator is a good way to prototype interfaces;
> either a physical ones (e.g. a tv remote, an alarm clock) or screen
> based-ones (e.g. an mp3 player).
>
> Now, what I'm wondering is if writing these types of widgets (or any
> high-fidelity prototypes) would be something that should be in the
> skill-set of an interaction designer? It requires basic programming
> skills (enough to clearly specify "interactions") and some basic
> graphics skills to communicate how the product will look and work. Is
> this a deliverable that anyone calling themselves an "interaction
> designer" should be able to produce for a client?
>
> :jason
>
> [1] http://www.konfabulator.com/
> (Only runs on Mac OS X currently.)
>
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