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David Schwartz

looking for a lo-fi Delphi Style

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A common practice used by lots of web and mobile app devs is to do the basic design work using what's often called a "lo-fi" theme or style. It looks like hand-drawn figures on paper with handwritten lettering. Balsamic is a tool I found that offers this, but there are many others.

 

I like using Delphi for basic prototyping, and I can often build a semi-functional prototype as quickly as graphic artists can build a static wire-frame model in drawing tools.

 

Here's a decent article on the topic that I found with Google's help:

 

https://www.justinmind.com/ui-kits/sketching-web-and-mobile-wireframes-with-justinminds-ui-kit

 

The problem comes when the user sees what appears to be a fully-functional app, and thinks it's nearly finished. Uh, no, it's like a Hollywood sound stage. They can't tell, and I'm hard-pressed to prove it to them.

 

I thought perhaps if there's a lo-fi style for Delphi, I could build something that LOOKS like it's hand-drawn so they don't mistake it for something more complete.

 

Does anybody know of anything like this that's available?

Edited by David Schwartz
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You mean a mockup. Best way of achieving a "he's not done yet" feeling is to present a mockup in a drawing program such as the "queen" Balsamiq and keep the Delphi implementation hidden from sight. Why are the users snooping around your workplace in the first place? And shouldn't one be addressing the GUI in the final stages of development?

But I know where you're coming from. I'm there too. So the second best thing would be to create a shitty looking GUI. I do that through gross misplacement of components, horrid colors and a big fat "MOCKUP" label.

 

But for the more professional approach: https://community.idera.com/developer-tools/b/blog/posts/prototyping-from-vision-to-ux-design

 

Cheers

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As I said, I can usually build a semi-functional prototype / mockup / whatever in the same time it takes a graphic artist to build a static wireframe model.

 

I showed a prototype to some potential investors last year trying to raise some capital and I think they thought I was lying to them about how much was completed. So I showed the next ones screenshots, and they wanted to see that I was further along, more than just drawings.

 

These guys are presented with wireframes and mockups all the time, and Delphi lets you build something that's functional, but it looks too complete for a prototype. It's hard to explain to people.

 

I only wish there was a "Project Overview" tab on the IDE that shows the various forms and units in the project in a graphical fashion, rather than just the textual list in the Project Mgr.

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Maybe something is possible with FireUI, never checked that out more deeply.

I usually make screenshots of each situation I need, e.g. on iOS phone, and then have a lot of files I can show.

 

Edited by Rollo62

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@David Schwartz, your topic is IMHO not Delphi related at all, but very pertinent, important and even somewhat novel. I have the same basic problem. Repeatedly. Over and over again.

IMHO there might be a market for an "FX filter" to "mockify" an "app-screenshot"... Good idea! I would imagine that skilled FX algo-designers could come up with something working.

"if (edge = straight) then apply random-scetch" else...."

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Perhaps someone can write a DFM-to-Balsamiq converter. It's pretty much just a SQLite database.

Edited by Uwe Raabe
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I'd really love something that gets this kind of effect right within Delphi. Colors are no problem. Typography is no problem. Maybe buttons and widgets that look like they're hand-drawn would require a different skin or CustomDraw method?

 

Any thoughts?

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On 4/17/2020 at 6:30 PM, David Schwartz said:

I only wish there was a "Project Overview" tab on the IDE that shows the various forms and units in the project in a graphical fashion, rather than just the textual list in the Project Mgr.

There is Visual Forms (http://www.jed-software.com/vf.htm). Never tested it.

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You can create hand-drawn-like visual style and apply it to Delphi app

Edited by Fr0sT.Brutal

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In theory, it is possible to take a .dfm and convert it to an SVG illustration.
 

Not sure there is a huge commercial market, but it surely is something that many would appreciate having to avoid those pointy haired bosses thinking that your two-hour-tossed-together-good-looking Delphi prototype is a complete application that just needs a little testing.

 

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7 hours ago, David Schwartz said:

Any thoughts?

Plenty.

You are trying to solve a problem you've created yourself by insisting on doing the mockup in Delphi. The solution should be obvious...

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2 hours ago, Lars Fosdal said:

but it surely is something that many would appreciate having to avoid those pointy haired bosses thinking that your two-hour-tossed-together-good-looking Delphi prototype is a complete application that just needs a little testing

Never had that problem.

The customer/manager might have their own opinion about the size/cost of a task but that doesn't really matter. What matters is the time/cost estimate I give them. Their opinion will not affect the outcome.

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4 minutes ago, Anders Melander said:

Never had that problem.

The customer/manager might have their own opinion about the size/cost of a task but that doesn't really matter. What matters is the time/cost estimate I give them. Their opinion will not affect the outcome.

Wow, you've been lucky.  Perhaps it is primarily a plague for corporate developers.

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1 minute ago, Lars Fosdal said:

Wow, you've been lucky.

No it's not that I haven't encountered it. I just don't consider it a problem.

 

If a PHB decides to ignore my estimate based on his own opinion then that's his problem. Sure it might be demotivating developing something that you know will be late or unfinished because of that, but again; It's not my problem. It only becomes my problem if I revise my estimate based on pressure or try to meet an unrealistic deadline.

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It has become better over the years, but it is only as good as the processes of each company.

Before, it could happen if you were a lowly developer, that there was a manager above you that set target dates not on your effort estimates, but on targets presented as wishes from the sales people and the upper management team.

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33 minutes ago, Lars Fosdal said:

Before, it could happen if you were a lowly developer, that there was a manager above you that set target dates not on your effort estimates, but on targets presented as wishes from the sales people and the upper management team.

TBH I'm sure that I have suffered from this back when I was a rookie, but fortunately I quickly learned that it's not my problem.

IME one of the primary causes of stress is the inability to understand this. People take responsibility for things that are beyond their control. There is no spoon. The cake is a lie. Etc.

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It's not a problem with bosses, but rather when Delphi is used for rapid prototyping and you build a mockup that LOOKS like a fully-functional application to someone (eg., clients or prospects). They can't tell the difference. You show them something that LOOKS "nearly complete" and say you want to charge them $10k or whatever to "build it out" and they think you're pulling their leg. It doesn't go very well in my experience. I can show them the code, but they don't know what they're looking at.

 

Why duplicate effort? Why spend hours building a mockup in one tool and then re-doing that in another just because you can't make the UI look ... uh ... let's say ... less refined?


The UI is all anybody has to go by. They can't tell it's analogous to a Hollywood sound stage and there's nothing behind the facades.

 

As an aside, I thought it was fascinating to see the HGTV series on The Brady Bunch home rebuild. They had a street view of a house they used in the TV series to make it appear like what their "home" looked like from the outside, when in fact it never existed except inside of various sound stages in a big warehouse. They had to double the size of the real house and do some massive remodeling to make it come close to what audiences believed was what it should look like.

 

It took 6 months, a couple million dollars, and it still wasn't an exact replica of what was shown on TV.

 

When you're selling your home and you "stage" it, you don't build a mockup in a warehouse of exactly what they're looking for. You pimp up the home itself to give buyers a look at what it might look like. But people know that's not THEIR furniture and they don't expect it to look exactly that way when they move in. 

 

Software is different -- they look at what you show them and if it's "too polished" they think THAT'S HOW IT'S GOING TO LOOK AND WORK. And if it LOOKS AND FEELS FINISHED, they don't take you seriously if you try to convince them it's not.

 

Why double your workload during the design stage by building a mockup on a sound stage in a warehouse when Delphi lets you build a rapid prototype just as fast?

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Maybe I did not understand right because my english is not that good,  but you want some delphi skin that looks like lo-fi ?

 

I think u could build ur own lo-fi components - style in 2-3 days its not that hard

Edited by Tntman

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12 hours ago, David Schwartz said:

It's not a problem with bosses, but rather when Delphi is used for rapid prototyping and you build a mockup that LOOKS like a fully-functional application to someone (eg., clients or prospects). They can't tell the difference. You show them something that LOOKS "nearly complete" and say you want to charge them $10k or whatever to "build it out" and they think you're pulling their leg.

If this is the concern, then why not create your own custom "Lo-Fi" style ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7g9EDPDPcQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9XxM7W94p4

Thats what styles are made for, you can be scribbling them as "Lo-Fi" as you want.

You can load the whole PNG picture of ta style in Photoshop, and change it to whatever design needed.

 

I think that would be the perfect way.

1. Create the 50% functional demo, use the Lo-Fi style

2. Show your customer

3. Do some refinements of the rest 50% for the next 3-4 months

4. Switch to normal, desired UI style

5. Show to your customer

6. All are happy :classic_dry:

 

Is that the way you need ?

 

By the way: You could ask at DelphiStyles for such design, I'm sure they're happy to do that for you.

 

Edited by Rollo62

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I guess my original request just wasn't very clear. I know that if I ask this on SO, it'll get locked.

On 4/16/2020 at 4:56 PM, David Schwartz said:

I thought perhaps if there's a lo-fi style for Delphi, I could build something that LOOKS like it's hand-drawn so they don't mistake it for something more complete.

 

Does anybody know of anything like this that's available?

 

Edited by David Schwartz

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