Do tools matter in Big D design from an execution perspective? Formerly Expression Blend a "review"
13 Apr 2007 - 11:40am
7 years ago
Michael, this is great feedback and the 'do your tools matter' is important. But are we confusing having tools 'matter' with being 'important' for a given task? Eclipse and Ant aren't very important for folks that work in the world of .NET but they surely do matter and in fact probably influence how the tools in .NET work and vice versa. I suspect that regardless of if folks work in the world of .NET, or Adobe or the myriad of open source variants or jump among all three that the tools, processes and frameworks in all of these worlds influence the others (and this is a good thing).
And perhaps I'm being overly vague here too in my question as I certainly concur that tools do matter when it's time to 'carve the wood'. Do tools like Eclipse, Visual Studio or Photoshop or Flash matter than much in the early phases of the design process (around research, analysis, synthesis and conceptualization?) or what I'm calling the Big D part of design?
I think we could make a strong argument that tools like Photoshop and Flash do for many folks but is even that wise if you're using them to flesh out an app that will be built in <insert technology here>?
Perhaps the conundrum I see here is that I suspect many people (present company excluded) use prototypes the wrong way, or make them too real too soon without understanding the implications of execution (This is a somewhat lesser known contributor to the Vista development debacle BTW). This is even further compounded by the fact the some of the interactions and patterns we design for simply have to be built for people to 'get' them. It's pretty hard to show the utility and interactivity of a one page shopping cart (let alone measure or test it) without a pretty good representation of the final artifact. It gets even more dicey when were using one technology platform as a proxy for another in this process as we can get in the weeds pretty quickly or design interaction scenarios that can't be supported by the application logic of a platform or the backend (often legacy) that you're plugging into.
I'm also curious how we reconcile this with many of the current trends in Web development. For example. Let's look at an application like Basecamp from 37signals.com. What's the best way to bring that application to life? What's the best way to prototype it. In Photoshop? In Flash? Or just build it?
From: Michael Micheletti [mailto:michael.micheletti at gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2007 10:07 AM
To: Chris Bernard
Cc: Christian Sosa-Lanz; IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Expression Blend a "review"
Designers sail past different shores of a large sea. Some skirt close to the land of the developers and sometimes walk onto the beach to trade fish and curiosities for handmade trinkets. Some of us even learn to handmake articles ourselves - to hold the tools and carve the wood. Other designers sail the deep waters of pure thought and academic discourse, never in generations to set foot on land in their search for the legendary white whale of theory. Still others sit on shore, tools in hand, dreaming of the day they'll have a boat and can sail the design sea.
So for many of us, tools do matter, whether we hold them in our own hands or trade for goods crafted with them. The key question for you, O maker of tools, is do _your_ tools matter.
I would say that if I were to design a brand new application destined for a .NET release somewhere farther than six months out, then your tools would be of very great interest to me. In fact, I've already forwarded much of this thread along to some of the development artisans I trade with. If I were to design minor revisions to an existing application, even an existing .NET application, your tools will probably not help. If I were to design an Ajax web component, your tools will probably not help. If I were to design an application in a Java shop or for a command line or for a mobile device, I'll put your tools in a drawer and ask the artisans to use something else. If I am trying to illustrate an early concept to show to a design session, something altogether other than Blend is called for.
Your tools, after they are fully sharpened, show potential for being powerful shapers of the Microsoft wood. The XAML syntax is readable. The integration with Visual Studio looks promising. I have hope of using them myself, or working with skillful craftsmen who do, in some future project. But for now I hew the wood of the Java tree with plans made in Visio and surfaces in Photoshop and code in Eclipse and Ant.