Expression Blend and Sketchflow

3 12 2009

One of the topics at yesterday’s talk was a semi-new feature in Expression Blend. Sketchflow is a kind of modeling tool where rough sketches of a program’s user interface and site structure is put together in a quick fashion. It’s supposed to be used as a part of a agile development process. Or as my colleague Mr.Mike put it:

“It will allow you to fail fast, instead of late in a development cycle”

sfMap[1]

More pics after the break.

sfSketch[1]
Sketchy theme takes the focus off details 

Mr.Mike has a good point and failing late has always been one of the weaknesses of the Waterfall approach to design. The question one must ask with tools such as Sketchflow are these:

  • Is it worth the time needed to create the sketchflow diagrams
  • Can we make good use of Sketchflow if only one or two members of our team know how to use it?

It seems to me like the time aspect is of smaller concern. Sketchflow both generates Word documentation at a pace quick enough to alone justify the time investment. Secondly, all controls used are easily converted to real Silverlight controls.

On the concern of team functionality, this is a slightly more concerning aspect in my opinion. Not everyone will now or in the future learn Expression Blend. However, there is a “suggest changes” mode that both team members and customers can use to comment on design.

Sketchflow seems to be (from what I’ve heard) in an early state. A bit maybe like Silverlight1 was in 2007. But I think the tool has great potential in the long run. I’ll post some more thoughts on it once I’ve tried it out.

SketchFlow11_thumb%5B1%5D[1]

sfFeedback[1] 
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