One of the new features that were just announced about Expression Blend SketchFlow 4 is the integration of SketchFlow projects with SharePoint. What does this mean? It allows you to publish SketchFlow prototypes to a SharePoint library and manage stakeholder feedback directly in the SharePoint library.
Knowing that hosting the prototype and having your stakeholders send e-mails back and forth with feedback is not always straightforward, I think this is a really nice and useful addition to SketchFlow.
Let’s have a look at how this integration works.
For showing how this works I’m using one of the prototypes that comes with the Expression Blend 4 samples, in this case the "MockupDemonstration’ solution.
Once I’m ready to publish this SketchFlow prototype, I can choose “Publish to SharePoint…”
I’m using my personal SharePoint “My site” since I don’t have an external full SharePoint server available.
At this point the SketchFlow application is packaged and published in the “MockupDemonstration” folder on my site. After publishing the app I can open the library and and copy the link for distribution.
When I browse to the SharePoint library I will get a new folder as requested, with a new sub-folder for this version of the project. Inside this folder you will find the .XAP file that contains the prototype as well as a TestPage.html.
As expected, opening the TestPage.html will load the associated .XAP file from the same folder. And that’s it: for hosting the prototype nothing more is needed.
SketchFlow’s SharePoint integration would only be half useful without the capability to integrate feedback.
Because the prototype is being accessed through the SharePoint library, uploading the feedback directly to SharePoint is also available as a choice in the player. After entering your initials, the feedback is uploaded to SharePoint. Several reviewers can give feedback which is all saved into the SharePoint library corresponding to the prototype version.
The next step is getting that feedback into Expression Blend 4. To do this I activate the SketchFlow Feedback pane (if not visible, activate it by going to Window > SketchFlow Feedback). You will see in this pane that left to the + icon to load feedback files there is now a icon to refresh feedback from SharePoint. After synchronizing the latest feedback, Expression Blend will show you the details as you would get in Expression Blend 3, ordered by revision.
Further iterations will generate new versions on SharePoint and new revisions. This allows you to keep feedback linked to a certain version correctly structured in SharePoint.
Have fun with sketching and SharePoint collaboration!