September 20, 2002

Wireframe Builder

Part of my job is to design wireframes. Wireframes are what a web page would look like if you took a screenshot of it, ran the “Find Edges” Photoshop filter on the screenshot and cranked the contrast all the way up. They show the shape and contents of a page without trying to define the fonts, colors, images, and other so-called “creative” elements. Therefore, they can be developed and tweaked more rapidly than a set of fully-designed comps.

Once you’ve done about a thousand of these things you start to realize they’re all the same. Not exactly the same of course but they share a lot of rules and methodologies. So you think to yourself, “I could build a tool in PHP that would parse a human-editable XML file into an interactive set of wireframes, thus saving myself hours of monotonous drawing.” But the more you think about it, the more complex it seems. And it’s not like you have time to do it anyway.

The latest issue of A List Apart is about scope creep and using it to your advantage. One of the things it mentions is a Wireframe Builder which claims to do something similar to what I’m describing. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

[Later: Hm, not having much luck trying it out yet.]

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