Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prototyping CRM with mSketch

Yes, August was quiet month or at least it seems so on my blog. Nevertheless, very busy month with a lot going on.
Currently working on an new implementation of CRM 2011. In every project you have to demonstrate/show the screen based on the requirements you have gathered.

 Its commonly down in mock-up, images (either vmware, hyper-v or virtualbox) or via demo system like crm online. In all cases you have the challenges that you cannot show full functionality (besides out-of-box stuff). 

A good alternative is the use of mSketch a solution (e.g. stencils) for Microsoft Expression Blend. I must admit I seen the name popup in my MSDN account, but didn't use it before.

The most interesting about this mSketch is that you can make a mock-up with actually functionality behind it e.g. pull downs are opening when clicking on it. The solution, yes everything is called solutions today same as in Visual Studio, exist of toolbox with all fields you can use for designing your form as you can see in the image to the left.

So you might think I could also use my own tools or my own development enviroment. There is more about this way of working then you might expect. I did some basic research I came across the book "Dynamic Prototyping with Sketchflow in Expression Blend".

There have been a lot of studies about how our brain is processing images. In short our visual cortex initially reacts and is attracted by straight lines and angles of light,which means that if we use black and white sketches we have a advantage over something with lots of colors, images etc. It would also mean that the audience quicker should understand what you mean and your feedback should also be more constructive.

Of course, you have to get used to the Microsoft Expression tool first, but that shouldn't be that hard. You don't have build your own solution for CRM, it is already there too, so you can start almost immediately.

The mSketch stencils are made by Magnetism, also more information about the out of the box functionality can be found there.

 So start make your prototyping easier and more convincing, who wouldn't like that :-)