electric beach

Christian Schormann

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SketchFlow: A Bit of History

SketchFlow, the dynamic prototyping toolset for Expression Blend, has now officially graduated! You can get a trial here.

As I always love to see how people, ideas or products evolve, I thought you might enjoy a quick look into the past of SketchFlow too – and this seems like a good moment to grab the high school yearbooks from the coffee table and show you a little bit of SketchFlow growing up. For more information on SketchFlow today, see this post…

But now let’s begin with a baby picture:


This is a prototype I wrote several years ago in Windows Forms, in the days long before Avalon/WPF. Very prominent, already in this earliest picture, the big map editor, then called the Storyboard editor. Grey arrows represent navigation and red connections, composition.

Here is another baby picture, from the same years. It shows the Sketch editor that allowed you to very quickly draft out UI ideas:


Do the wiggly lines look vaguely familiar? In the lower left corner, there is also an asset library with pre-made, re-usable components.

Another perspective shows the player in its earliest days:


To the left, you can see all available commands, green indicating navigation, and orange the equivalent of state changes. At the lower left, there are simple annotation tools. In this prototype, the annotations were just simple speech bubbles.



I have to honestly admit that we have little records of the next several years. In fact, life had other demands, and very little happened to the protagonist.


But then there was the day when SketchFlow met Blend for the first time (introduced by Bob Pappas in our Minnesota office):


It was love at first sight, and from here on things evolved very quickly, nurtured by the amazing Blend and SketchFlow teams in Redmond and Minnesota. Here a view of the player from the same period:


Just a little later, we can find pictures just like this:


The following picture is an early drawing from these days, boldly experimenting with different curvatures for the connectors of the map:


And finally, we arrive at graduation day:


And now, Blend 3 with SketchFlow is available for download. You can also try Expression Studio, which includes Blend with SketchFlow, Web, Design and Encoder.

We would of course be very honored if you’d give it a try. We, the Blend and SketchFlow teams, are looking forward to hearing your first (and second, and third) impressions.



posted by cs at 10:00  


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