Archive for November, 2007


designers Throwing things over the wall…

The workflow for both desktop and browser based apps using Expression Blend and Visual Studio is very much in the mould of the ‘designer’ builds the visual look and feel of the application in Blend and the ‘developer’ codes against those UI elements in Visual Studio. In some workflow scenarios the designer/developer are different people, in others, particularly if you are coming from a background of Flash, they are the same person.

The Blend/Visual Studio workflow doesn’t favour one or the other.

I think Ryan’s comment about ‘throwing things over the fence’ is generally true of a traditional designer/developer workflow when a Photoshop comp is thrown over to a developer to be made into a functional application, in this scenario the end result would almost certainly look different from the designers original visualisation and the smallest change would often involve a fair amount of work. Thermo, from it’s early showing definitely seems to be going in the right direction to help solve this sort of dilemma.

Expression Blend and Visual Studio, well it’s just different from the traditional model. There is no throwing over the wall, it’s more… a very slick passing of the baton 🙂

Both products use exactly the same file formats, open the same project files, and the designer and developer can work on the same project at the same time seamlessly. The end result at the UI layer will look exactly the same as the designers original vision as there is not slice and dice, no trying to stitch together in code what the designer created with pixels in the first instance. The exact same visual the designer created in Blend (Design, Illustrator), is the exact same visual that is delivered as part of the final project, now it simply has some code behind it to make it interactive.

In my case my workflow is simple.

I have Blend open as my Interaction Design tool (either Expression Design or Illustrator if I want to do more serious graphical work), Visual Studio as my code environment and my browser as my test environment.

Once I’ve tested the project once I leave it running in the browser. After I’ve written or changed code in Visual Studio I literally hit browser refresh to check the interactions and see if I like the changes. Exactly the same from the design side, if I’m not happy with the look and feel I simply go back to Blend, make the changes I need, save, and hit browser refresh and look at the updated application.

The visual aspects of the application are decoupled from the code, there’s no set limit on what you can do in each environment, and when you do handover from design to code the transition is seamless.

I see this as much more of a design/developer continuum than just throwing things over the wall.