Tools for Rapid Prototyping GUI apps

11 Oct 2004 - 4:36pm
9 years ago
7 replies
2241 reads
david gee
2004

Hi,
I've been designing web applications for a few years, and am very
comfortable with rapid prototyping with DHTML/XML tools. A new project
involves designing for a C++ Windows MFC app, something I'm not very
familiar with at all. Are there any tools out there that make it easy to
throw together non-functional toolbars / dialogs very quickly and
easily, with control over layout (centering, padding, etc) or are HTML
or Flash still the only way to do hi-fi prototypes for this type of app?
I'd like to use a tool which gets me acquainted with the limitations of
what I can / can't do.
--
david gee david at mode3.com http://www.mode3.com/david

Comments

11 Oct 2004 - 5:39pm
Todd Warfel
2003

We're still using HTML/Flash for this. It's working well for us and our
clients.

On Oct 11, 2004, at 5:36 PM, david gee wrote:

> or are HTML or Flash still the only way to do hi-fi prototypes

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design and Usability Specialist
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
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In practice, they are not.

11 Oct 2004 - 5:49pm
Listera
2004

david gee:

> A new project involves designing for a C++ Windows MFC app...

Well, there are various VB tools. A great tool to do rapid prototypes is
RealBasic, which gives you Win/Mac/Linux outputs to boot.

<http://www.realsoftware.com/realbasic/>

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

11 Oct 2004 - 10:22pm
Dave Malouf
2005

It all depends on several issues:

Are you prototyping interaction, or are you prototyping for look & feel? Or
both?
Do you need it to behave? To be interactive? Does that interaction need to
be realistic?

You say these are "hi-fi" prototypes, so it sounds like you need both and
very interactive.

I suggest learning Visual Studio, as it is the tool that your developers
will be using, and it really isn't that hard to use. It has in it all the
widgets and controls you need.

In lieu of that for any reason I suggest the following:
1. Visio 2003. the widgets look like they came out of Visual Studio itself.
The interaction/behavior isn't good, but you're GUI will look pretty
exactly.
2. Flash MX 2004 Pro. The components look different, but they are all there.
Interaction is great!
3. Norpath Elements Studio. Great interaction and most of the widgets you
need. Fun programming environment. It is just so non-standard.
4. Combination of Visio + Dreamweaver. You can cut and paste the widgets
from Visio out of there and into Fireworks/Dreamweaver (I'm sure Adobe CS
would work too).

Enjoy!

-- dave

12 Oct 2004 - 2:32pm
ji kim
2004

hi, since you have already mastered prototyping in DHTML/XML, try using Sash to make your protoypes fpr thick clients.
http://sash.alphaworks.ibm.com/ Project is no longer supported, but it's pretty stable.

You might also want to try XUL (using XML) to build the UI, but documentation for XUL and support is not very good.

Good luck,

Ji

12 Oct 2004 - 5:29pm
Clay Newton
2004

> You might also want to try XUL (using XML) to build the UI, but documentation for XUL and support is not very good.

Actually, XUL is not a bad idea at all. A while back David Gee posted
a message about the Mozilla Amazon Browser, MAB,
(http://www.faser.net/mab/)

This is all built using XUL, and the developer (I believe his name is
Fabio Serra) references a couple of books he used to get things
rolling.

There are a number of Mozilla/XUL development books on Amazon:
http://tinyurl.com/4fvvh

Best of luck!
-Clay

12 Oct 2004 - 7:34pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

David Heller <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:

> I suggest learning Visual Studio, as it is the tool that your developers
> will be using, and it really isn't that hard to use. It has in it all the
> widgets and controls you need.

Dave, after you have created prototype with Visual Studio, that
developers also use, will you call it Throw-away prototype or you will
ask developers to consume it?

Prady

12 Oct 2004 - 9:50pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Depends on the team, project, and the phase.

In general, I believe that designers should do their work in the design
phase, and everything they do there should be thrown away. After design they
do documentation or more generally communication. This is done outside of a
production medium as the level of annotation necessary (I have found)
requires too much text to do in an interactive medium. It's also easier to
break things down into components in this way, using a blocking & zooming
technique.

Designers then should be included in the production/development stage but
only to make sure their communications were understood, not as producers of
code.

I do realize that some teams are strapped for resources and thus designers
will be part of the production team in these cases. But what you are then
doing is taking your own communication document and building the final
product, not a prototype (a one-off exploration). You will (being that you
are a designer) tweak and manage and iterate the documentation accordingly,
but still I wouldn't' call this a prototyping stage at this point.

-- dave

Ps. Notice I said the first choice for me were other tools so that it is
clear the level of separation between design and development.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Prady Rai [mailto:pradyotrai at gmail.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2004 8:35 PM
> To: David Heller
> Cc: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Tools for Rapid Prototyping GUI apps
>
> David Heller <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:
>
> > I suggest learning Visual Studio, as it is the tool that
> your developers
> > will be using, and it really isn't that hard to use. It has
> in it all the
> > widgets and controls you need.
>
> Dave, after you have created prototype with Visual Studio, that
> developers also use, will you call it Throw-away prototype or you will
> ask developers to consume it?
>
> Prady
>

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