Flowella – accelerometer, timers and Qt Quick

November 30th, 2010 by Merlin

Last month Nokia launched the improved version of the Flowella prototyping tool. The changes are not big, but are important. They can be grouped like this:

  1. Bug fixes
  2. New transition triggers
  3. Export to Qt Quick

Bug fixes

A developer/designer tool can have all the features in the world, but if you can’t save and later continue your hard work the tool will be discarded very soon. Earlier version of Flowella sometimes had trouble saving your current progress. The workflow could be messed up after loading or the connections between frames could be lost – very frustrating. The new version doesn’t have any of those problems. Saving, loading and exporting works as expected.

New transition triggers

The old way to go to the next screen was to click on the specified area. Although this was sufficient for basic testing, it doesn’t really reflect the way people use mobile phones. New Flowella adds more triggers.

Motion actions in Flowella

The first new triggers is accelerometer. The prototype can now respond to multiple motions. Just drag the arrow on the right side to the target screen.

Timers in Flowella

The second new trigger. It is great for rudimentary animation and non-interruptible actions (updating, authorizing, etc).

Export to Qt Quick

Qt logoBeside exporting to WRT and Flash Lite, you can now export to Qt Quick. Qt Quick is the new feature of Qt 4.7 and it allows you to create UI layout and behavior by using a language based on JavaScript. No C++, at least for the not-too-complicated stuff. If you’re familiar with web technologies, you’ll get around very quickly.

Here is the sample of the QML code generated by Flowella for one of the screens. It looks almost the same as the JavaScript object literal.

import Qt 4.7

Item {
   property string jumpToNode: ""
   signal jumpTo
   id: node
   focus: true
   Image {
      source: "Screenshot-20100930-165711.png"
   }
   Timer {
      id: timerTrigger
      interval: 500 /* Note: intervals must be > 0 for the timer to work */
      running: true
      repeat: false
      onTriggered: {
         jumpToNode = "3E579516-E275-5DF8-9AFE-99E9A6FC66B9.qml"
         node.jumpTo()
      }
   }
}

Free Nokia N900 design frame

November 12th, 2010 by Merlin

N900 frame post header

If you’re designing or prototyping an application for Nokia N900, this resource could be very helpful. N900frame_template.zip contains a SVG file with a N900 background (just like in the header photo), a status bar and a 800x480px workspace so you can easily export your work in native screen size and test it in one of available prototyping tools (like Flowella).

Layers in the SVG fileThe frame was created in Inkscape, but you can easily import it in some other vector drawing program (AI, CorelDRAW) or use raster graphics in the bundle (N900 hardware and status bar pictures) in Photoshop or GIMP. All the sizes are pixel perfect so you can use it to create quick mock-ups or the final design.

The SVG file contains layers with normal and full-screen grids that are helpful for quick prototyping. Status bar can be easily removed so the full screen canvas awaits you.

Version control for designers, part 2

October 19th, 2010 by Merlin

Header photoIn the previous post we have talked about why you should use a version control software for your design work and explained a bit about how they work. Now we’ll use one of them to show how to set up a workflow and avoid common problems. Read the rest of this entry »

Version control for designers, part 1

September 15th, 2010 by Merlin

Version control, revision control or, in programming terms, source control systems are different names for one thing – a system that manages different versions of your digital work. In this article SCM abbreviation will be used to refer to it. In most cases they are used for source code (text files) management, but there is nothing limiting them from managing other types of files. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics are all viable candidates.

This article analyzes designer’s needs and shows how he or she can use SCM to help organize its work files. The first part shows why it’s good to use version control systems, explains what types of those systems exist and how they work. In part 2 we’ll use one to set up a few workflows that could be good for design work. Read the rest of this entry »

Flowella – rapid prototyping tool for mobile designers

July 19th, 2010 by Merlin

Flowella is a simple but powerful tool by Nokia that lets you create application prototypes directly from design suites or even scanned hand-drawn sketches. Read the rest of this entry »