Shown for the first time publicly today at Mix 2009 in Las Vegas, SketchFlow is a fun, informal, flexible, quick and powerful way to sketch and prototype rich, dynamic interactivity with Expression Blend.
SketchFlow is part of Expression Blend – for more info see this post.
I am very excited about SketchFlow, and If you are at Mix, we’d love to see you in one or all of the scheduled sessions on Expression Blend:
- Mini-Session: Creating Interactivity with Microsoft Expression Blend, held by Pete Blois, Wed, 2:15-2:35pm
- Mini-Session: Integrating Microsoft Expression Blend with Adobe Creative Suite, held by Joanna Mason, Wed, 2:40-3:00pm
- The Future of Microsoft Expression Blend, held by Doug Olson and me, Thu, 10:30-11:45am
- From Concept to Production: Prototyping with Expression Blend & SketchFlow, Thu, 2:30-3:45pm
If you get to see a demo, please drop me a line with your feedback. I’d love to hear from you.
Design, Sketches & Prototypes
It is almost a truism that great design is an important factor for great products.
Throughout the software industry, we historically have not spent much effort on the earlier stages of design. This lack of upfront investment in design often leads to increased cost due to a need for expensive rework at a later stage and to products that may not satisfy our customers.
Great design for software needs a great design process, and ways to make the exploration, communication and evaluation of interaction and design fast and effective are an important part of great process.
Sketching, and, at a slightly later stage of the design process, prototyping, are wonderful techniques to explore a multitude of ideas quickly, without excessive investment and emotional attachment. My colleague Bill Buxton has written a wonderful book on this that I strongly recommend reading: “Sketching User Experiences”, published by Morgan Kaufmann.
Software interaction is highly dynamic, and over the last years we have consistently have pushed more in the direction of rich, dynamic visuals and interaction methods. Expectations have risen greatly. However, it is far from easy to create meaningful design studies and sketches of dynamic interactivity entirely with traditional tools. There are many reasons for that, including the fact that most design tools have been created as production tools, focused on the creation of final production assets, where precision, quality and finish matter. Another reason is that most tools still treat UI as something that is just a small derivation from an otherwise static comp.
The mission of the Expression team is to help designers to create great user experiences. We believe that this mission needs to begin with the early exploration phases of design. SketchFlow, as presented today for the first time in public during the Mix 2009 keynote, is our first step in this direction.
SketchFlow is a new set of tools for Expression Blend to create sketches and prototypes of interactive content and applications, giving Blend a new role in pre-production and design phases of the development process.
SketchFlow is informal and quick, enabling you to sketch out plentiful ideas for dynamic interactions in a cost effective manner. SketchFlow also supports the evolution of your rough sketches into living and breathing prototypes that can be as real as you need them to be.
SketchFlow addresses three pain points in software sketching and prototyping:
- It makes it easier to experiment with ideas for dynamic user interaction.
- It facilitates communication of design ideas and intent between designers and other stakeholders.
- It makes it easier to gather, evaluate and use stakeholder feedback on design ideas.
SketchFlow also integrates well into a design-centric workflow. Last, but not least, there is a lot of new functionality in Blend 3 that greatly empowers prototyping.
Stay tuned for more information coming soon to your friendly electricbeach neighborhood blog.