Thursday, March 19, 2009

Time to claim success on electronic sketching of UIs?

In Las Vegas this week (March 18th), Microsoft demoed Microsoft Expression Blend 3 with SketchFlow. SketchFlow is a new tool that appears to be a commercial strength version of our previous research tools in this space:
  • SILK -- for sketching, storyboarding, and prototyping GUIs
  • Denim -- for sketching, storyboarding, and prototyping Web sites (w/ lots more in terms of functionality and testing than was possible in SILK)
  • K-Sketch - informal prototyping of animations

Much of the functionality of these three research tools has been embedded in a full strength web development system (Expression Blend 3). The image above shows the UI, but doesn't really capture it (you need to watch the video below).

Watch this video of the demo (go to about 2/3 of the way in If you go too far in and they are already sketching, just back up a bit. The video is quite long.):
(click on Day 1 Keynote)

More info on it here:

The talks use the term "informal" all over the place. Clearly our "informal user interfaces" work has had impact on industry. I know this often takes many years (we first showed SILK in 1995!). But I want to thank Brad Myers (my PhD advisor) and all of the students, staff, and postdocs that have worked on this project (especially Jimmy, Jason, Mark, Richard, and Yang). You should all be quite happy to see this come to fruition. It sometimes takes many years to see impact and many other researchers never see it.

What do you guys think? Are we done? What don't they do?

PS Watch the Buxton intro at the beginning to see a lot of the motivation. I wonder if they will claim to never have seen our work and were instead motivated by Buxton's recent book?