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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Denim - sketch your website

I'm building out some new IP for Tapestry ... a funky way of saying, I'm building a new, better reference application. It's called ePluribus and it uses Tapestry 4, annotations, HiveMind and Hibernate 3; in the long run, it may also use Lucene and a smorgasborg of other frameworks. Eventually, I will use this code as the basis for a number of presentations and use it to improve my Tapestry Workshop. But right now it's still pretty formative.

One of the first steps in designing a web application is the site map; this is often a frustrating excercise with post-it notes or scraps of paper (or, god help you, sequence diagrams) that are hard for the developers to interpret, and pretty much impossible for the clients. For ePluribus I'm wearing many hats, one of which is to be the client, another to be the web designer. I also say ... use the right tool for the job.

As best I can tell, the right tool is DENIM. DENIM allows you to sketch out your site map (the UI is designed for a tablet, but works with a mouse). It's designed for very rapid prototyping. Your site map is a single document that you can scroll and zoom to access individual pages. You can literally scribble your site together, creating links and buttons and drawing lines to connect pages together. It uses a lot of gesture based input (again, good when you are using a tablet).

A key innovation is that DENIM can export a HTML prototype of your site! Here's a sample.

DENIM is free (it was created at the University of Washington) and is written in Java; can't seem to find anything about source code or licensing, however. It's so worth a look!

ePluribus is hosted on JavaForge. There's no home page yet (its under the Tapestry @ JavaForge umbrella). The source is in SVN as http://svn.javaforge.com/svn/tapestry/epluribus/trunk and can be viewed directly (though the HTML view seems to be out of date somehow!).


jesse said...

That's awesome! I don't think anyone will mistake those mockups for real functionality.

Anonymous said...

So is there something special you need to do to checkout the project using subversion? It doesn't seem to allow anonymous checkout and my JavaForge id and password doesn't seem to work either.

Anonymous said...

Username: anonymous
Password: anon

Anonymous said...

Did you ever find out anything more about Denim source code and license? I like the tool, but there are some minor things I'd like to change, and I can't find source code anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I don't get access to the project with anonymous/anon