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Thread: Designing User Interface

  1. #1
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    Designing User Interface

    Hi,

    We need to design a new user interface for an existing VB based desktop application - to be developed using Windows Forms using C# .NET.

    This is for a client who is quite finicky with user interface design and the final design might involve multiple discussions and changes.

    What would be a suitable tool to draw up wireframes as part of the discussion - which can be converted into the final Windows Form after the User Interface look and feel has been decided ?

  2. #2
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Umm... Visual Studio? Just place controls on a form that don't do much of anything, or populate some simple dummy data.

  3. #3
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    I'd have to agree, VS is great for quick mockups in front of a client. Also you could do the unthinkable, use a piece of paper and a pencil. Shocking I know, but some still use those ancient implements

    Regards

    ps, If your redesigning an existing UI you could also "cut out" each major segment of the UI and using any art package create layers which consist of the major segments and have the client play with those layouts. I've done this before for CMS.

  4. #4
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Thank you both for your quick answers. Looks like Visual Studio would be the way to go.

    Quote Originally Posted by kabben View Post
    If your redesigning an existing UI you could also "cut out" each major segment of the UI and using any art package create layers which consist of the major segments and have the client play with those layouts. I've done this before for CMS.
    Could you please let me know more about this ?

  5. #5
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Nothing more to say about it really.

    You simply take a screen shot of the current UI you are working on. Split the key elements that make the UI up into sections with an art package like photoshop then put each on a different layer. then just move them around. its a quick and simple way if a little rough. It's handy if your looking to show a proposal and dont want to install VS on a laptop...

    It's definitely not ideal but its a quick and simple way if you need too.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Thanks kabben !

  7. #7
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Some people I have consulted with have indicated tools like : www.axure.com and SketchFlow for rapid prototyping.

  8. #8
    Arjay's Avatar
    Arjay is offline Moderator / EX MS MVP Power Poster
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Instead of using WinForms, consider using WPF.

    I can't even begin to tout all of WPF's advantages over WinForms, but in a nutshell, WPF has way more flexibility with styling, layout and customization than WinForms.

    If your customer is interested in the newer Vista/Win7 transparent stylings, WPF can do that. If the customer is interested in the more traditional look, WPF can do that (or switch between the two styles on the fly).

    With WPF, you can also use the Expression family of tools for rapid prototyping.

  9. #9
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Is it easy for someone who has worked solely on Windows Forms to adapt quickly to WPF ? We have 2 weeks time before discussions with a customer, and would that be enough to get to speed on WPF - or is it a completely new paradigm ?

  10. #10
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    1) Is it easy for someone who has worked solely on Windows Forms to adapt quickly to WPF ?
    For me the transition hasn't been that smooth.

    2)We have 2 weeks time before discussions with a customer, and would that be enough to get to speed on WPF - or is it a completely new paradigm ?
    It's a whole new animal. Given the time constraint, might be easier to just go with WinForms for now.

    My opinion is mixed. At the end of the day, the app has to work. Transparency or not, if the user clicks the button to save their data and it crashes, the app is a failure. WPF isn't THE tool... it is A tool.

    -tg
    * I don't respond to private requests for help. It's not conducive to the general learning of others.-I also subscribe to all threads I participate, so there's no need to pm when there's an update.*
    * How to get EFFECTIVE help: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Getting Help - how to remove eels from your hovercraft *
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  11. #11
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    I agree. I don't know that a project for a customer with a two week deadline on mockups is a good time to learn a new paradigm. Play with WPF on your own time and maybe you will comfortable enough with it by the time you start the actual project, but I might consider doing the proof of concept in WinForms. I don't know, you could always toy around with Expression Blend and see how it goes.

  12. #12
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Case in point... I was using an existing WPF project from a tutorial I had gone through. I wanted to add a few things to test a theory... part of that was adding a button... which took me 15 minutes to figure it out and get it positioned right so that it wasn't covering up the grid... and that doesn't count the time it took to wire it up. Something that would have taken me 5 minutes to do in WinForms - to include wiring it up. WPF has it's place... mockups and prototypes are not it. Unless you are a true graphicy designer and not a programmer... in which case Expressions or Expressions Blend will be better, faster and more natural.

    -tg
    * I don't respond to private requests for help. It's not conducive to the general learning of others.-I also subscribe to all threads I participate, so there's no need to pm when there's an update.*
    * How to get EFFECTIVE help: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Getting Help - how to remove eels from your hovercraft *
    * How to Use Parameters * Create Disconnected ADO Recordset Clones * Set your VB6 ActiveX Compatibility * Get rid of those pesky VB Line Numbers * I swear I saved my data, where'd it run off to???
    * On Error Resume Next is error ignoring, not error handling(tm). * Use Offensive Programming, not Defensive Programming.
    "There is a major problem with your code, and VB wants to tell you what it is.. but you have decided to put your fingers in your ears and shout 'I'm not listening!'" - si_the_geek on using OERN
    MVP '06-'10

  13. #13
    Arjay's Avatar
    Arjay is offline Moderator / EX MS MVP Power Poster
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Sure, WPF does have a learning curve, but if the schedule allows, it's worth making IMO because of the reasons I've outlined earlier.

    Still if you need to come up with mockups in 2 weeks, it may not be the best approach. On the other hand, perhaps you can negotiate with your customer that you'll do the initial mockups, but reserve the right to switch to something else.

  14. #14
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    Re: Designing User Interface

    Thanks everyone for your comments. Makes things quite clear !

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