Expression Blend 3.0 with SketchFlow Released Today

10 Jul 2009 - 1:39pm
5 years ago
21 replies
1446 reads
Chris Bernard
2007

This is a bit of a self-serving post but probably of interest to many IXDA folks.

Today the first public version of Expression Blend 3.0 was released. Included is a new feature called SketchFlow which is designed for dynamic-prototyping.

If you're a fan of Bill Buxton and his ideas put forth on Sketching for User Experience in his book and past IxDA talks SketchFlow is worth checking out. It's got fantastic features to allow designers to bring sketches to life and build complex prototypes in an rapid and iterative process without having to resort to code. It's also got the potential to integrate well with tools like AutoDesk SketchBook, and Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator with new import functions.

My colleague, Sara Summers and I are currently writing a book that introduces designers to SketchFlow features. We'd love to get feedback on it and we're providing a free chapter of the book that details all the basics on how to use this tool and get productive.

If SketchFlow is something that sounds interesting to you Sara and I would love to get feedback from you if you download and play with it.

You can download SketchFlow here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=92e1db7a-5d36-449b-8c6b-d25f078f3609&displaylang=en

You can download our sample book chapter and project files here:

www.dynamic-prototyping.com

We think this is an exciting time for interactive designers, let us know what you think!

Comments

10 Jul 2009 - 6:41pm
Faisal
2009

Hi Chris,

Thanks very much for the link to download the sample chapters. I am a die hard fan of Expression Blend. SketchFlow support and importing option for Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator has given new dimention to this tool.

10 Jul 2009 - 9:19pm
Den Serras
2009

No Mac version?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

10 Jul 2009 - 11:37pm
David Drucker
2008

> No Mac version?

I looked on the Microsoft site and couldn't find one.

Really pissed off that they are ignoring the Mac for these kinds of
tools the way they used to.

11 Jul 2009 - 12:44am
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

Wait, you're pissed at Microsoft? Why aren't you pissed at Apple?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

11 Jul 2009 - 1:09am
David Drucker
2008

On 10-Jul-09, at 10:44 PM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:

> Wait, you're pissed at Microsoft? Why aren't you pissed at Apple?
>
>

Honestly, what is your problem? Are you some sort of Apple-hating
troll? You seem to swoop in to make an anti-Apple comment every chance
you get. Please, give it up.

11 Jul 2009 - 2:15am
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

Wow, quite the overreaction. :-) Particularly since my alleged
trolling "every chance I get" consisted of calling you elistist in
a single thread. One might think you were less comfortable with the
label than you claimed at the time.

My point here is simply that you seem irrationally angry that
Microsoft would release a product for developing applications using
Microsoft technologies which only work on Microsoft operating
systems. One might make the argument that you are a Microsoft-hating
troll. You seem to swoop in and make anti-Microsoft comments at least
as often.

I would think that if you wanted a tool for developing Mac-oriented
UIs, you'd want a tool written by Apple. On that note, are there
*any* Microsoft applications that you do use? Perhaps you'd like to
take this opportunity to extoll their particular virtues?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

11 Jul 2009 - 8:45am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jul 11, 2009, at 2:09 AM, David Drucker wrote:

>
> On 10-Jul-09, at 10:44 PM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:
>
>> Wait, you're pissed at Microsoft? Why aren't you pissed at Apple?
>
> Honestly, what is your problem? Are you some sort of Apple-hating
> troll? You seem to swoop in to make an anti-Apple comment every
> chance you get. Please, give it up.

Now, now, children. Let's calm down.

David, Joshua has a point: Microsoft users don't seem morally angry
that Apple hasn't released its awesome iWork and iLife software for
the PC. Why can't MS release software that only runs on their
platform? Especially in the design world? They need a way to entice
designers back to the MS platform, don't they? (Remember, as a Mac
user, you can always use Parallels or VMware to run it.)

Joshua, David has a point: You have to realize that those of us who
are Apple users, being a segregated minority, are a little sensitive.
We get a little touchy when they think they are being ignored. Even
thought we opted to go with a non-standard platform because we like
the convenience of getting things done quickly, we do feel slighted
when good software appears to be PC only.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else. http://is.gd/1uM9Z

Jared

11 Jul 2009 - 9:56am
Mark Schraad
2006

>
> Joshua, David has a point: You have to realize that those of us who
> are Apple users, being a segregated minority, are a little
> sensitive. We get a little touchy when they think they are being
> ignored. Even thought we opted to go with a non-standard platform
> because we like the convenience of getting things done quickly, we
> do feel slighted when good software appears to be PC only.

always bugs me that I have to pay a higher price for SPSS and Intuit
products (and surely others) just because I work on a mac

11 Jul 2009 - 10:01am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jul 11, 2009, at 10:56 AM, mark schraad wrote:

>>
>> Joshua, David has a point: You have to realize that those of us who
>> are Apple users, being a segregated minority, are a little
>> sensitive. We get a little touchy when they think they are being
>> ignored. Even thought we opted to go with a non-standard platform
>> because we like the convenience of getting things done quickly, we
>> do feel slighted when good software appears to be PC only.
>
> always bugs me that I have to pay a higher price for SPSS and Intuit
> products (and surely others) just because I work on a mac

But it doesn't bug you so much that you buy a PC to run those apps. :)

The water pump in a Toyota Camry and a Lexus es330 is exactly the
same. However, if you buy the pump for the Lexus it will be $200 more
than for the Toyota. Don't buy a Lexus is that bothers you.

Privilege has its price.

Just sayin'

Jared

11 Jul 2009 - 11:00am
Mark Schraad
2006

didn't say I did not understand why, or in a logical mind see that
its appropriate in a free market... just said it bugs me ; )

On Jul 11, 2009, at 11:01 AM, Jared Spool wrote:

>
> On Jul 11, 2009, at 10:56 AM, mark schraad wrote:
>
>>>
>>> Joshua, David has a point: You have to realize that those of us
>>> who are Apple users, being a segregated minority, are a little
>>> sensitive. We get a little touchy when they think they are being
>>> ignored. Even thought we opted to go with a non-standard platform
>>> because we like the convenience of getting things done quickly,
>>> we do feel slighted when good software appears to be PC only.
>>
>> always bugs me that I have to pay a higher price for SPSS and
>> Intuit products (and surely others) just because I work on a mac
>
> But it doesn't bug you so much that you buy a PC to run those apps. :)
>
> The water pump in a Toyota Camry and a Lexus es330 is exactly the
> same. However, if you buy the pump for the Lexus it will be $200
> more than for the Toyota. Don't buy a Lexus is that bothers you.
>
> Privilege has its price.
>
> Just sayin'
>
> Jared
>

11 Jul 2009 - 11:26am
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

Thank you Jared.

I do realize that Apple users/fans can feel like a segregated
minority, but blaming Microsoft for their woes is simply misguided.
Being angry at a company for not producing a product "for me" is
just silly.

Personally, I like Subarus. They are quirky, well designed, and have
great personalities. But I don't get angry when Toyota chooses to
focus on products which don't meet my specific needs. I'm not being
denied some sort of entitlement. Whining about it just isn't helpful.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

11 Jul 2009 - 1:06pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jul 11, 2009, at 9:26 AM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:

> I do realize that Apple users/fans can feel like a segregated
> minority, but blaming Microsoft for their woes is simply misguided.
> Being angry at a company for not producing a product "for me" is
> just silly.

Yes. After all, there are so many other woes we can blame Microsoft
for. We don't need to add to the very large list.

Jared

11 Jul 2009 - 1:18pm
David Drucker
2008

Jared - Thanks for putting the issues here so clearly and fairly.

I think the Subaru vs. Toyota analogy is not quite correct here.

People who use Apple products actually receive an unfair penalty (and
in some case, lose opportunities to do good design work) because
Microsoft's enormous power over the market means that they can pretty
much dictate industry standards (examples: Internet Explorer v. 6's
non-standard HTML, the situation where many companies force users to
use Outlook in order to support features of Exchange Server, the fact
that Visio is the app used by so many wireframe teams despite the fact
that there are other tools that are far better at that task, such as
OmniGraffle - and yes, I know the 'pro' version of that app reads and
writes Visio XML, but there's no reading and writing of original
files). The court cases against Microsoft in Europe bear this out.

In short, when Subaru puts out a car, they don't change some streets
so that Toyota cars can't drive on it.

As for whining, I'd hardly say that expressing dismay is a whine,
especially when Microsoft hinted at supporting other platforms with
Expression years ago but has never put anything out except a small
subset of the apps in the suite.

On 11-Jul-09, at 9:26 AM, Joshua Muskovitz wrote:

> Thank you Jared.
>
> I do realize that Apple users/fans can feel like a segregated
> minority, but blaming Microsoft for their woes is simply misguided.
> Being angry at a company for not producing a product "for me" is
> just silly.
>
> Personally, I like Subarus. They are quirky, well designed, and have
> great personalities. But I don't get angry when Toyota chooses to
> focus on products which don't meet my specific needs. I'm not being
> denied some sort of entitlement. Whining about it just isn't helpful.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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11 Jul 2009 - 2:01pm
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

> Yes. After all, there are so many other woes we can blame Microsoft
for. We don't need to add to the very large list.

Exactly. ;-)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

11 Jul 2009 - 8:12pm
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

David,

The simple truth is that you don't like Microsoft. I get it. But
it's not a constructive point to make on this list.

There is nothing preventing you from using this app on your chosen
platform. You aren't being denied anything. You have your personal
preferences -- sometimes they work in your favor, and sometimes they
don't. It is your choice. However, your method for "expressing
dismay" (however misleading the euphemism) is highly insulting to
those who don't share your viewpoint.

As someone who chooses different personal preferences, I would
respectfully ask that in the future, you try to avoid airing this
particular gripe at individuals who develop products. I'm sure a lot
of people were involved in its development, and your comments dismiss
and demean their hard work simply based on the name of their
employer.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

13 Jul 2009 - 7:21am
Kristopher Kinlen
2008

Not sure how any of the Apple vs Microsoft banter has anything to do
with the subject of this thread... Sketchflow.

Just sayin! :)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43633

13 Jul 2009 - 8:27am
Fredrik Matheson
2005

So, has anyone tried EP3 with Sketchflow? What's your experience so far?

13 Jul 2009 - 9:04am
Josh Seiden
2003

Folks,

Please take this conversation offline. And please avoid such topics
in the future.

The moderation of this community relies to a large degree on the
ability of members to police themselves, and to respond to one
another with professional courtesy.

Chris posted something relevant and genuinely exciting for the
community. You will move us all forward if you respond to what Chris
wrote.

Thanks,
JS

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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13 Jul 2009 - 10:24am
Michael Micheletti
2006

On Mon, Jul 13, 2009 at 6:27 AM, Fredrik Matheson <
fredrik.matheson at gmail.com> wrote:

> So, has anyone tried EP3 with Sketchflow? What's your experience so far?
>

I'm sort of living in Blend 3 these days, styling a major WPF application.
Haven't had a chance to use the Sketchflow portion yet since I'm working on
production deliverables and am a bit behind schedule.

The Blend 3 RC is considerably more stable than the preview release, which
crashed frequently when I'd open a code-behind file, or sometimes even just
selecting something from the Object menu. The Adobe Illustrator imports are
95% great in Blend 3, only missing on some color accuracy and alpha values.
Can't round-trip vector graphics, but support for Illustrator imports has
really helped me out for this project.

Blend 3 continues to be alternately handy and frustrating as a vehicle for
designers to spruce up WPF and Silverlight applications. The XAML editor is
much improved by the addition of Intellisense, but there are still moments
when the parser thinks your code is busted but it really isn't. Blend also
seems to do strange stuff to solution and project files sometimes, to the
point that I only create new resource dictionaries and make other
project-level changes using Visual Studio now.

At some point I'll write up my experience styling WPF components in a
serious production application, but I'm too busy today. Let me just mention
that it feels more like hacking than like design. Plus it's given me one of
the low points of my technology career when I realized that to style an
80-line screen took more than 800 lines of nearly unreadable and probably
dangerous XAML template code.

Ok off now to dive into 3rd-party UI components with a debugger, see how
they put them together, hook up their default styles, hack them until they
look right, and try not to break something. Life as a designer in the 21st
century...

Michael Micheletti

--
Michael Micheletti
michael.micheletti at gmail.com

13 Jul 2009 - 10:43am
Diego Moya
2005

2009/7/13 Fredrik Matheson <fredrik.matheson en gmail.com>:
> So, has anyone tried EP3 with Sketchflow? What's your experience so far?

I've given EB3.0 a quick run. Everything below is the result of a very
rough first impression based on few minutes of usage.

On first opening, it looks very similar to several Rapid Application
Development tools by Adobe to which I'm familiarized. In particular,
the layout, tools and icons show a strong resemblance to the Flex IDE
- down to the dark default color theme.

Said that, the SketchFlow specific functions seem a very much welcome
addition for prototyping work. The "SketchFlow map" is a usable state
transition diagram, which is a godsend after trying to create state
flows through Visio background pages.

The "SketchFlow animation" panel looks at first like a highly visual
comic-strip version of the Flash timeline, enhanced with an recorder
that allows creating transition states by interactive demonstration.

Overall it seems that it will be a really good way to create simple
transition diagrams for navigating the main application or website
structure, but I still remain wary about the ease to create more
fine-grained complex interactions through predefined or extensible
behaviors.

Cheers

13 Jul 2009 - 12:27pm
Alan Dennis
2008

I'm still playing with the new release... Sketchflow looks pretty neat, but I need to spend more time with it before I can really judge.

FWIW, I can comment on the "the ease to create more fine-grained complex interactions through predefined or extensible behaviors."

First, for those who don't know what behaviors are, they are basically little bits of code that you can attach to a UI element in order to give it certain interactive capabilities without actually having to write code for that specific UI element. For example, you could have a rectangle with a mouse drag attached behavior, such that you could then drag that rectangle around when you click and drag. The beauty of this is that after you have created the behavior, you can attach it to any UI element and maintain a healthy disconnect between your UI and logic layer.

There are a ton of attached behaviors out there for use, if the ones in the asset library won't do it for you. And, of course, you can and should roll your own. I've been working with behaviors for a while now and I can say that, while it does require a bit of learning to start writing your own behaviors (though it's nothing that would overwhelm anyone on this list, I don't think) they are very easy to create after that initial learning curve. And, of course, they are extremely powerful and flexible. Most importantly, they are re-usable and easily extensible. On my teams, we've created behaviors for everything from simple input validation, to complex things like object manipulation adorners (the little widgets that let you resize objects, etc).

So, I'm not one to be a big cheerleader unless it's for a video game ;), but after working with attached behaviors and following the MVVM pattern for a while, I gotta admit, I'm hooked on WPF. It's extremely awesome and I highly suggest everyone check it out, if they are doing Windows development. (And I've done some Silverlight experimentation as well, which is also pretty darn cool, tbh)

As a side note, I'd like to mirror Michael's comments that Blend does have a habit of doing bizarre things to projects, at times. For example, a known bug is that Blend can insert a startup window for your app, even when you don't want to have one, leading to big blank white windows on startup. For this reason, I tend to be a bit protective of my XAML/code and do a lot of my work in VS 2008 as well as Blend. For anyone interested, I HIGHLY recommend getting ReSharper for doing WPF work - it will change your "life."

-AD

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Diego Moya
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 11:44 AM
To: Fredrik Matheson
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Expression Blend 3.0 with SketchFlow Released Today

2009/7/13 Fredrik Matheson <fredrik.matheson at gmail.com>:
> So, has anyone tried EP3 with Sketchflow? What's your experience so far?

I've given EB3.0 a quick run. Everything below is the result of a very
rough first impression based on few minutes of usage.

On first opening, it looks very similar to several Rapid Application
Development tools by Adobe to which I'm familiarized. In particular,
the layout, tools and icons show a strong resemblance to the Flex IDE
- down to the dark default color theme.

Said that, the SketchFlow specific functions seem a very much welcome
addition for prototyping work. The "SketchFlow map" is a usable state
transition diagram, which is a godsend after trying to create state
flows through Visio background pages.

The "SketchFlow animation" panel looks at first like a highly visual
comic-strip version of the Flash timeline, enhanced with an recorder
that allows creating transition states by interactive demonstration.

Overall it seems that it will be a really good way to create simple
transition diagrams for navigating the main application or website
structure, but I still remain wary about the ease to create more
fine-grained complex interactions through predefined or extensible
behaviors.

Cheers
________________________________________________________________
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