Infragistics Extends UX Patterns Explorer with Private Library Service

On Tuesday Infragistics Inc. launched Quince Pro, a collaboration tool and repository for user interface (UI) artifacts, design libraries and other digital assets. The software-as-a-service, built on Silverlight 3, is hosted on Amazon Web Services.

The new service grew out of the UI developer tools company's online Quince catalog, a free, community-based user-experience (UX) patterns explorer, available since February 2009. Quince offers 100 UI designs, advice on best practices and social networking features for sharing tips and UX pattern experiences.

"The goal here was to get people to think about building user experience in a different way through UX patterns," said Jason Beres, director of product management at Infragistics. "It was mostly read-only except for the social networking aspect. We also allowed people to submit their own patterns."

Quince Pro, expands the UX patterns explorer, allowing members to "cultivate" private libraries or style guides for development projects. Designers and developers can communicate feedback or changes to digital assets with annotations or attachments across dev teams and organizations. "No one wants to use Word as the main tool for communicating ideas," said Beres.

The service supports multiple projects, tagging for navigation and common design tools such as highlighting, zooming and resizing capabilities. A corkboard interface provides a familiar work space for posting sticky notes and sharing UI examples. Infragistics followed a UX design process for Quince Pro, responding to feedback from Quince users and soliciting input from an international design council.

The software-as-a-service can be accessed by any device running Silverlight 3. Private library managers can control how their digital assets are accessed and by whom. They can also print example files or save them as downloadable PDFs. Infragistics will store all data and assets in the cloud for up to a year after a subscription has expired, said Beres.

User experience is becoming a key differentiator in software. In a January report by Forrester Research, analysts advised application developers to make five key changes in 2010. On that list: "Become passionate about user experience."

According to the report: "Application development teams can absolutely create great user experiences. The problem is that many application development teams have never learned how." Managers need to ensure that their dev teams understand and adopt UX design best practices, advised the Forrester analysts.

The demand by the end user is to have a richer, more engaging experience in the applications that they use, agreed Beres. "From a developer standpoint, from a corporate standpoint, it is a key differentiator," he said. "If you go on the Web and see application A, which didn't have any user research or UI work done and then you look at application B and there a user-centric design process was used -- application B is the one that will get chosen."

Quince Pro is available now for a free, 60-day trial period. Pricing is yet to be announced, although it will be subscription based with annual licensing fees for five users (5 GB storage), 30 users (30 GB) and enterprise. "Our test pricing is putting it at $10 to $15 per user per month. We will have that resolved by the time we ship the product," Beres said. The subscription-based service is expected to launch before the end of Q1.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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