User interfaces can be developed using a graphic design program or on paper, but during the prototyping phase, programmers often find it frustrating when it is necessary to make changes, because they find themselves having to redo the whole mockup. Another problem is that it's hard to communicate what the product will look like to final client with virtual mockups. In comes Woody UI kit, a low-fidelity prototyping kit that, through software, will go from mockup to code in a few clicks of a camera.

Woody was presented at Maker Faire Rome in October 2013 by MakeTank vendor Fiore Basile of Artigianato Digitale in collaboration with Diego Zeppegno. This interface kit unites paper design with a physical or tangible object. The kit contains objects that represent 3 types of screens for smartphones or tablets, as well as wooden buttons, tabs and other objects that you usually find in app development. These elements are magnetic so you can attach them to the screen, and they are actual size.  Another advantage is that you can hold Woody in your hand and get a sense of what the app will be like in the end, for example, if you will be able to reach a button with your thumb.

"This allows designers to develop in the kitchen or anywhere they are because creativity is something that happens in different locations not just in front of the computer," said Fiore at the presentation.

"When we are developing this kit at FabLab Torino, some children came up to us and asked 'can we play with that?' Interface design should be fun, like a game. In fact the first application we made with this interface design was a video game."

There are already many apps that allow to quickly create navigable version of such designs, one of them is called POP (Prototyping On Paper), available for free with on the iOS App Store and Android Market with a limited plan.

But Fiore’s idea, in the spirit of the maker movement, is to create an open-source app allowing to go from the wooden version to a working functional digital version of our app!

In his own words: “this would add the automatic recognition of the app's blocks and from there, the possibility to actually be able to generate code directly from the prototype.  The app should be finished in a few months and for this reason we are selling the UI kit boxes to help fund the development of this code that will make app development much more natural and simple.”

When Bruce Sterling stopped by the MakeTank stand at the MakerFaire, we showed him the Woody UI kit and boy was he impressed! In this video, see his genuine reaction, including some expletives and a great quote: "this is really designer design goods".

Woody UI kit is available in three variations, in the Zeppegno shop exclusively on MakeTank.


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