Monthly Archives: May 2006

Thoughts on iRise

This evening I watched a demo of iRise, the prototyping tool developed by the company of the same name. Here are some quick thoughts I took away.

The tool seems easy to use. Drag and drop screen and scenario painting looks straight forward. I can see how quickly you could develop a fairly deep prototype. It would be much faster than coding, even if you had a rich set of templates like protokit to start with.

The output has good visual fidelity. While it uses proprietary metadata to style the visual elements, it will import CSS. It appears that absolute placement of graphics doesn’t allow for a fluid layout, but there does seem to be a high degree of control over style attributes and placement. The interaction with “data sheets” provide rich data interaction simulation (something that we’ve been stratching our heads over on protokit). What seems to be lacking is rich DHTML (or as the kids call it “Ajax”) behavior. The few widgets they demoed when asked seemed to refresh the screen on each activation. There might be ways around this with hacks or in future releases.

The output has low mark-up or code layer fidelity. The output is a proprietary format similar to PDF. Like Adobe’s Acrobat strategy, a free viewer is available from iRise that will “run” prototypes (iDocs) developed by the iRise tool. Like protokit, this makes the prototypes very portable and easily viewed with or without a connection to a server. The downside is that there isn’t much (if any?) mark-up that can be reused by developers. This is especially not-good news if you’re documenting design to be shipped off-shore for development. I’d like to be able to specify accurate examples of what the mark-up should be.

The trade-off might be worth it. You save time developing the interactive model and can use some of that time to develop an interactive style guide with markup examples. You could even develop static HTML renderings of each screen, they just wouldn’t have the cool interaction that the iDoc offers.

So, when does one use iRise? Protokit? Just prototype in Rails using scaffolding? Well, any junior consultant will tell you the answer is always “it depends”. But iRise is a fascinating first step into automating the design process. Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to evaluate iRise further to see if the mark-up side shortcomings can be overcome by overloading the available attributes and other documentation capabilities.

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Posted by on May 31, 2006 in prototyping


processing the desktop like your inbox

Keith Robinson had a great post today on spring-cleaning for your desktop. Here’s a tip that I have used to keep the new MacBook Pro’s desktop clutter free.

In addition to standard aliases (shortcuts, for my Windows friends) to important drives/directories I have a “downloads” folder on my desktop. Everything I save from the web or email goes in here. It’s easy enough to get to, being on the desktop, and keeps the clutter out of sight. Typically I then manipulate the file as needed, filing it appropriately or deleting it when I am done. If I get distracted or I’m not ready to use the file, it stays in the download folder.

Each morning I make it a point to “process” the downloads folder just like I do with my inbox. I look at each item and either use it (if it will take less than 2 minutes), file it where it belongs, or delete it if it isn’t needed anymore. If I’m still not ready to use it, it stays in the folder. At least I know it will be reviewed again the next day.

My old machines had very messy desktops, and I could never find those one-off files when I needed them. While I have only been using this new system for six weeks or so, it’s been very effective so far.

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Posted by on May 15, 2006 in fribble



Have you seen what’s “noteworthy”?

Thanks for reading Mark-up, my personal notes made public. Most of you are here because we were already good friends and we realized that RSS is much more efficient than email at sharing our ideas about common interests. But I have been happily surprised to hear from old and new friends that are reading the blog as well. I’m glad you’re here.

This main feed is where I infrequently post my own thoughts or analysis. This area is reserved for entire paragraphs or new threads. If you’re purely reading these posts through a news aggregator and you’re only subscribed to Mark-up, you’re missing the “snippet” section that’s updated much more frequently with happy finds on the web. In the spirit of Coudal’s Fresh Signals or Firewheel Design’s Current Plugs (both prolific sources of amusing and inspiring links) I have a “Noteworthy” feed powered by Links that I think my like-minded friends would also enjoy get an extra “noteworthy” tag when I post them to View them online beside the latest posts on the home page, or through the magic of RSS in your own comfy news aggregator.

I hope you’re amused or inspired by these links as much as I was.

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Posted by on May 11, 2006 in fribble


BI Wisdom, from LOST

The Pearl station orientation video

Seems like the fictional Dharma Initiative on the TV show LOST understands the importance of Busines Intelligence.

Careful observation is the only key to true and complete awareness.

– Dr. Mark Whitman Wickman* (or is it Martin KandallCandle*?) in The Dharma Initiative 5 of 6 Orientation (Station 5 – The Pearl)


Update: My brother-in-law pointed out the obvious to me over dinner this evening. His names are Candle and Wickman. I should have realized.

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Posted by on May 10, 2006 in business