Design Documentation Tools/Methodology

11 Oct 2004 - 3:05pm
9 years ago
4 replies
678 reads
Pradyot Rai
2004

I have questions about managing UI design work. The typical scenario
is where we use wireframes to mock representative screens. This is the
stage when we have completed the design iterations and work needs to
be presented to development, tech-specs, QA, or all other engineering
teams.

These wireframes are later modified, enhanced with subsequent releases
requirements. For example if one is working for a product requirement
release 3.3, then he has to carry over all the wireframes (relevant
ones only) from very beginning with additional changes into it. That
is lot of work to manage, plus, it reduces the efficiency of the
person managing it.

I have a question regarding tools/methodology that any of you might be
following. The challenges here are --

1. How do you manage the versioning/releases, track changes, without
getting too manual with the UI Design processes?
2. Is there any Document Management tool (e.g. Telelogic DOORs) that
anybody ever used for UI design management?
3. I have come across iRise which seems to be very impressive. Has
anybody dealt with iRise on the issues I mentioned?

To give you more insight into our methods -- we are using Visio and
using Clearcase for achieving/versioning them. This is not the best
way to handle the UI design, but we have not found anything better
yet.

Any suggestion, pointer, discussion will be highly regarded.

Thanks,

Prady

Comments

11 Oct 2004 - 5:44pm
Todd Warfel
2003

We've been extremely happy with Illustrator CS (with two exceptions: 1)
lack of multiple page support (we use HotDoor's Multi-page plug-in
(http://hotdoor.com) 2) lack of underline text support (we use a
character style created in PhotoShop, then copied and pasted into
Illustrator, which provides us w/underlined text)).

So, given those two workarounds for the "lack of key features" we need
in Illustrator, this approach has worked well for us.

Now, we haven't taken full advantage of Version Cue, which is Adobe's
versioning built into the CS suite. We're a small shop, so we've taken
to using a v.X labeling system. However, we're considering using the
versioning system to see how it works.

On Oct 11, 2004, at 4:05 PM, Prady Rai wrote:

> To give you more insight into our methods -- we are using Visio and
> using Clearcase for achieving/versioning them. This is not the best
> way to handle the UI design, but we have not found anything better
> yet.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design and Usability Specialist
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

11 Oct 2004 - 10:47pm
Nathan Moody
2004

Todd, that MultiPage 2 plugin looks great...thanks a lot for sharing
that resource. I had to switch to Visio simply because of Illustrator's
limitations in that arena (although after a couple of years I've
begrudgingly now for more to like than dislike about Visio...)

I've played with Version Cue, which is OK, but obviously (being a
freebie bundled into a suite of mature products) it's not as fully
featured as Perforce and CVS. Those two version control systems are
pretty robust, and while we use them for production files, we also use
incremented version numbers as a file naming convention.

The big qualifier here is that our design teams tend to be smaller than
our development teams, so version tracking amongst a few document
owners and a larger number of reviewers (the rest of the team) hasn't
really ever been a huge hassle.

-Nathan

12 Oct 2004 - 4:37pm
vutpakdi
2003

--- Todd Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote
> We've been extremely happy with Illustrator CS (with two exceptions: 1)
> lack of multiple page support (we use HotDoor's Multi-page plug-in
> (http://hotdoor.com) 2) lack of underline text support (we use a
> character style created in PhotoShop, then copied and pasted into
> Illustrator, which provides us w/underlined text)).

While probably not practical unless you are open to learning a new tool,
but I would highly recommend look at Canvas from ACD Systems
(www.deneba.com).

Canvas gives me:
the object vector capability of Illustrator
(with a bit more precision)
the ability to do minor layout
(including multiple pages,
text boxes with different text styles and
tab stops/alignment)
the ability to edit bitmap graphics
(including Photoshop plugin support)
importing and exporting a wide variety of formats
(including Illustrator, Photoshop, and PDF)
the ability to apply Photoshop effects to vector objects
in an integrated package that is cheaper than Illustrator alone.

Illustrator and Photoshop probably are better tools in their respective
areas, but Canvas still has them beat in terms of seamless integration.

I use Canvas for doing all of my wireframes, preparing design documentatio
notebooks, creating posters, and for some icon work.

Ron

=====
============================================================================
Ron Vutpakdi
vutpakdi at acm.org

14 Oct 2004 - 3:49am
Peter Boersma
2003

Prady Rai wrote:
> I have a question regarding tools/methodology that any of you might be
> following. The challenges here are --
>
> 1. How do you manage the versioning/releases, track changes, without
> getting too manual with the UI Design processes?

Manual is the way to go. At EzGov, where we design and implement
e-government web applications, we have work processes similar to what you
descibe (iterative design). We simply manually update version numbers of
documents and report the changes to the team via email and in project team
meetings (as well as in the files themselves, of course).

> 2. Is there any Document Management tool (e.g. Telelogic DOORs) that
> anybody ever used for UI design management?

No. Like you, we use ClearCase for version control and central storage of
most design documents, plus RequisitePro to produce reports with other
requirements. This means that all changes in requirements (e.g. those
resulting from workshops with the client) must be discussed by the
requirements managers (a role taken on by our business analysts) and the UI
designers (Information Architects/Interaction Designers and Visual
Designers) and the impacts must be documented in several places.

> 3. I have come across iRise which seems to be very impressive. Has
> anybody dealt with iRise on the issues I mentioned?

AFAIK, iRise allows you to keep track of requirements that you have/have not
implemented in the UI. It also provides links with requirements management
software (like ReqPro). I don't think iRise allows you to keep track of
implemented or proposed *changes* in the design.

You also mentioned the problem of setting up the documentation for new
releases. What we normally do is copy all relevant ("baselined") files from
a previous release into a new ClearCase "stream" and work from there. That
way the old stream, with all the documentation on the current, live,
version, is still there, and we can work on new design in the new stream. It
takes up a lot of harddisk space, but that is cheaper than dealing with
accidentally overwritten specifications, believe me!

Peter
--
Peter Boersma - Senior Information Architect - EzGov
Rijnsburgstraat 11 - 1059AT Amsterdam - The Netherlands
t: +31(0)20 7133881 - f: +31(0)20 7133799 - m: +31(0)6 15072747
mailto:peter.boersma at ezgov.com - http://www.ezgov.com

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