Axure 8 – new and improved features


Wireframing or mockuping are the basics when it comes to website/app
development. Certain kinds of wireframes are created at the beginning
of almost every project. You can make them either on paper or with the
use of dedicated programs. Not a long time ago the newest version of
Axure had been published, and since it’s one of the most popular
software tools on the market, we decided to take a closer look on
what’s new in that release.

Producing a comprehensive prototype that includes all interactions is a
rather long and a time consuming process, so here at Merixstudio we
frequently start off a project simply by sketching some draft ideas on a
paper. However, tools dedicated to wireframing and prototyping are still
very helpful when you want to talk about advanced projects with the whole
team. One of the most popular tools used in wireframing is Axure RP
according to their website 86% of Fortune 100 uses that software.

First impressions

When opening Axure 8 for the first time, users’ attention is immediately
drawn toward layout updates. The main elements that has changed include
the main toolbar, the right-hand side panels and the libraries panel.

Main toolbar became more prominent and legible thanks to the reducing
number of buttons. What’s more, that toolbar has been divided into two
main parts
— its top one contains buttons and functions that are most>
frequently used (ie. related to files management, mode of changing the
cursor and controlling the order of elements on the workspace). In addition
to that, the upper toolbar has a section which is solely dedicated to AxShare
functions (preview, share, publish). Whereas on the bottom part of the
discussed bar there are text formatting, sizing and positioning settings.

What can also be easily noticed are the changes in the Library panel.
Thanks to the build in set of several icons we no longer need to manually
load our own icon repository. In addition to that, Library section received
sticky notes (post-it-like colorful boxes that allow to annotate directly on
them), localisation markers and a Snapshot Widget (more information on
which to follow later in this article).

Improved styling

Axure 8 offers several additional styling options, thanks to which creating
wireframes is much easier and can be done without the use of external
graphics editors. We may, for instance, create a custom shape. In order to do
so simply add a shape to the workspace, right-click on it and select “Convert
to custom shape”
option. Once that is done, small draggable dots will pop
out around your shape and you’ll be able to freely adjust the ready-made
element according to your needs. All elements, either picked from the
library or the custom ones, can be transformed by selecting flip, unite,
subtract, intersect or exclude options from the style panel. Apart from that,
you may also take advantage of new styling options for a square object.
You can either enable/disable selected edges in square shapes or apply
“corner radius” to only selected corners. In case you still find those
customizing options not sufficient, you can play with the pen tool that allows
you to freely draw curved lines of different tilts and thicknesses.

Interactions

In spite of interactions not being the necessity in all cases, they certainly can
greatly help you to understand various dependencies, especially when it
comes to advanced websites or apps. New version of Axure brought several
new enhancements to cases and interactions — the following, among others,
are the most worth checking out:

  • set opacity action that allows you to control the transparency level on
    boxes or other elements;
  • rotate action, thanks to which you are able to trigger revolving action
    and (optionally) different animations;
  • flip animations on changing a panel state, which make the prototype
    much more attractive to users;
  • interactions are now run at the same time, therefore you don’t need to
    wait until the former finishes before seeing the effect of the latter;
  • grouped object are now real groups to which you can assign
    interactions.

Flip animation on changing a panel state

Rotate action with bounce animation on a square

Repeaters

Repeaters work best in creating long listings, which requires some filtering
and sorting of functionalities. Thanks to a one table that contains all data,
revisions in the existing list can be easily introduced.

In the newest Axure version hidden elements (such as widgets or dynamic
panels) are placed within a repeater and luckily now don’t influence it’s
size
, which used to be a bit annoying in the previous releases.

Furthermore, a new event named OnItemResize has been added to
repeaters. It offers an opportunity to add interactions that depend on the
repeater’s size.

Snapshot widget

By using snapshot widget we can embed a preview of a page or a master
on another page
. Simply add a Snapshot’s box, choose a reference object
and select the visible area of that page or master. This feature works similar
to an iframe, which means that any changes made in a reference item will
be reflected in the snapshot as well. Snapshot can be used for providing
users with a sneak peak of a members-only functionality which is behind a
paywall.

Flow diagramming

User flow diagrams are particularly useful when designing complex
systems
in which users can choose one out of several paths. Previous flow
feature has been fitted with a few new elements such placing your own
connector points of any quantity and location. In addition to that, some new
connector line styling options
has been introduced, such as the possibility
to use different types of arrows within one connector line or a new style
for connecting lines with themselves (with sharp, rounded turns
or curved).

Adding a new connector points to flow diagram

Team work

Thanks to teamwork two (or more) users can work on the same
wireframe
. It’s especially handy when planning large systems in which
every UX designer creates a selected part of an app or when members of a
team are based in various locations.

Team project had been present in previous Axure releases too, but now it’s
can be used without setting up an SVN server. The latest version
introduced storing data on the AxShare server, thanks to what you can
start collaborating on a project pretty much right after installing Axure.

Summary

Axure 8 brings several useful mods that make wireframing smoother and the
outcomes of this process closer to the end product. Undoubtedly a great
advantage are the improved interactions that allow to prototype advanced
front-end animations without a necessity of supplying further text based
descriptions. It is also great news that team project may now can be handled
merely with AxShare
.

Along with the new version, a new distribution model has been introduced
to Axure. Now, apart from the traditional one-time fee, you can sign up for a
monthly subscription scheme. Luckily, both options are still available, thanks
to what users gained a chance to choose a pricing model that suits their
needs best
.

Have you had a chance to give latest version of Axure a test ride? If so, what
your thoughts on its recent changes? Let us know in the comments.

Originally published at www.merixstudio.com.

Original post you can find here: https://blog.prototypr.io/axure-8-an-overview-of-the-new-and-improved-features-33ab8fc97539

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