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December 10, 2007

Managing UI Development Expectations with Flex

The default skin in Flex is pretty nice and I have regularly seen this cause problems with consulting projects. The issue is that when you mock up a user interface it looks good by default and the client thinks that development progress is much farther along than it really is. While I was consulting I used a default skin to remove the shine from the Flex UI allowing me to better manage client expectations.

Clients want to see a steady progression of development and if you show them shiny polished ui very early in the development process it can lead to confusion. Clients rarely realize how much work it takes to wire up a UI but they can see visual improvements. My recommendation is to use a plain CSS skin for Flex and dial the chrome down to black and white. It allows you to focus on control layout in prototypes vs having the chrome distract your client.
See my point. To the non-developer manager the first UI looks much better and more complete. The key is to show them the plain one, then later in development work on the custom skin and reveal your development progress later. You will get some strange looks from other developers but your client will have a better set of expectations and the plain skin helps you explain the progress of their application.


Here is a sample project that contains the plain css style. Feel free to use it to manage your clients expectations.

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