ForeUI is an easy-to-use UI prototyping tool, designed to create mockup / wireframe / prototypes for any application or website you have in mind.

All posts tagged Looksie

Use MockGen to Generate Mockups from Website

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Several months ago, I had post a review of Looksie, Looksie can generate detailed reports for ForeUI plots.  This morning Xemware just announced the beta version of their brand new web service: MockGen, which can generate (ForeUI or Balsamiq) mockups from existed website online!  It sounds very promising so I try it immediately and write down my experience here :-)

The web page of MockGen is very simple (as shown below).  There are just a few input fields to accept the parameters for mockups generation.  Some fields have a blue question icon on the right, and you can click the icon to show the explanation of the field.

There are just two required fields: one is your email address and the other is the URL of the existed website.  Other fields can control the pages included in mockups, and you can choose the output format (ForeUI plot or Balsamiq mockups).

I decided to generate a ForeUI plot from LinkedIn website:

So I input my email address to receive the plot, and then input the target URL as “http://www.linkedin.com”:

After clicking the “Generate!” button, I can see a message as below.  So I cross fingers and wait for my plot :D

It is better than my expection, an email arrived within one minute and it contains a ZIP archive.

The plot file is just in the ZIP archive.  After extracting the file and open the plot in ForeUI, a prototype for LinkedIn website is ready.  The first page is a navigating page and it can bring you to any page within the plot when running the simulation.

This page is the front page in real website.  It is almost perfect, even the hyperlinks are converted to actions in plot.  However the background color is changed to light gray:

After changing the plot background color to white, the final result is very good:

What if we run the generated plot in web browser?  I can’t help trying this and below is the comparation.

As you can see, there is a little offset between real website and the generated plot.  But it is not a big problem and I believe it can be improved in the future, as it is still in Beta state for now.

Dear friends, if you plan to create a prototype base on an existed website, the MockGen service will save you lot of time!  You can click here to try the service, please feel free to leave your comment here if you have any feedback on it.  Tim (the developer of MockGen) will be glad to hear from you :-)

Use Looksie to Make Reports for ForeUI Plot

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Looksie is a desktop tool that focuses on improving the entire prototyping process from design through to test. XemWare Limited, the developer of Looksie contacted us about eight months ago and we were all excited about the future of prototyping technology, then we setup a firm cooperative relationship. Looksie V1.00 is launched on September 1st and I am happy to introduce this promising product to you. Below is the main GUI of Looksie:

GUI of Looksie

Looksie is integrated with ForeUI and help you to do some interesting things on your prototype, including:

  • Generate configurable report for given prototype
  • Generate configurable Word/Excel document for prototype
  • Find/Replace text strings in ForeUI plot
  • Generate ForeUI plot from database

There are more exciting features under development, such as generating plot for existing web site and testing system for prototype etc. In this article I will mainly focus on the report generation and report design features of Looksie.

Report Generation

This feature will be quite useful if you have a complex prototype and need to review its details. Looksie already provides some finished report templates; you can use them to generate the report for your ForeUI plots on hand. To generate the report, just click the “Run Report” item in the “Report/Document” list in the Navigator, then a new “Reports” page will be opened and you can see two lists on it. The upper list is for the loaded plot files, you can open as many plots as you need and generate the report for all of them. The lower list is the report templates discovered by Looksie, you can choose a template and click the “Run Report” button below to generate and view the report.

Discovered Templates

The report preview window will shows up once you click the “Run Report” button. In this window you can review the content report page by page (just like browsing a World document). You can save the report to .prnx file so that you can open and review it with Looksie. You can also print the report to papers or export the report to many formats, such as PDF, HTML, RTF, XLS etc.

Looksie Report Preview

Here is a step-by-step tutorial of report generation on Looksie official web site, which is really helpful.

Report Design

The most exciting thing is that you can create your own report template! You can design how your report will look like, from content to layout, to coloring etc. To define a new report template, just click the “New Report…” item in the main GUI, then choose the “ForeUI Report Provider” to continue, the report designer will be opened.

Report Designer in Looksie

The report designer is very powerful. It allows you to create the report structure from scratch. However you need to know more about the report structure and ForeUI plot data structure to use the report designer.

In the report designer, a report consists of multiple bands, and all bands have the same width (equals to the page width). For example, a report can have a header band, a detail band and a footer band, and each band can have multiple child bands below it. Here is a figure that showcases how a report is generated with given report template and plot. As you can see the report detail band will be repeated automatically if it is bound to a collection of details. Since the report detail band can be nested, it can represent really complex data structure. You can always browse the band hierarchy in the Report Explorer on the right in GUI.

Report Structure

The gray region in the center is the report editing area. We can right click this area and trigger the context menu, then select the band to insert. When inserting report detail band, you can also specify the detail collection to bind, the collections has a name that starts with “#”.

Insert Band into Report

Tweaking the band is very easy, you can drag the bottom of a band to adjust its height, and you can also change its properties in the Property Grid on the bottom right corner.

Property Grid in Looksie

Before using the report designer to create your own report template, you should also know some details about the data within a ForeUI plot. A plot contains some simple attributes like width, height, background color etc; also it contains some collections for complex data. Such as the collection of all pages in the plot, the collection of all elements, the collection of all events etc. The figure below shows the basic hierarchy structure of plot data:

ForeUI Plot Data Structure

In the report designer, the data of plot is mapped into fields, which can be reviewed in the Field List on the right. In the list, a collection will have a name starts with “#”. For instance, the #AllElements is the collection for all elements in the plot. As you can see, there are many collections fields available in the list, so that you can bind them with detail report bands as you need. You can even drag the field into the report area directly, the report design will smartly create suitable component and bind with the field.

Field List in Looksie

Creating new design template is kind of complex but also interesting. Here is a detailed tutorial on Looksie web site, which helps you to create a new report template step by step. After finishing a template with the guidance from tutorial, I think I could really create something I need. In the ForeUI support forum, the ability to print out all behavior definitions is required here and here.  It is a shame that after so long time we haven’t provide this feature yet. However it seems that we could do this with Looksie now. I worked on it for one hour or two and created a report template for behavior printing. Below is the preview of the action report for “Timer.4ui” example plot.

ForeUI Action Report

Summary

The report generation and report design feature is quite useful for ForeUI plot reviewing. Although the report designer is kind of complex for the beginners, it could be improved by providing more detailed documents and tutorials in the future. As a newly launched product, Looksie is good enough and worth trying out.