Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

all. I'm wondering how do you spec./plan out your project? For example, for webiste you can use Wireframe. How about for desktop or add-ins such as MS Office add-ins? I want it as simple as possible and don't want spend all day using some sort of diagram software to sketch it out. Do I simply write down what features I want to build for the software then filter out what is possible and what is not possible? Any tips is appreciated.

share|improve this question

The absolute simplest method of 'em all is to whiteboard it and take pictures of what you've done.

share|improve this answer
+1 And a camera to take and save a picture of it. – Klaim May 31 '11 at 12:43
Everyone's got cell phone cameras these days... – Alex Feinman May 31 '11 at 16:19


For initial ideas, sketches, basic flow charts.


Once I have the ideas down. I flesh out the methods, flow charts etc. in MS Visio. Then I start writing

share|improve this answer

Wireframes will work for any GUI - it doesn't have to be a web GUI. I've absolutely used them for client apps in Java using Swing, for example.

I think in general, you need to spec at the level at which you need to communicate. Since your UI involves both developers and users, you need to spec at a level at which everyone involved can understand. For a fast, 1-3 man project, that's probably a sketch in a notepad or on a white board. For a big 20 + person project that's probably:

  • initial team brainstorming on a whiteboard
  • elaboration with Visio or another tool that will at least draw GUI-looking objects
  • Use case elaboration of what happens before, during and after the pictures
  • over arching style guides and dictionaries so that as people draw GUIs, the interfaces look alike
  • specifications between systems if needed

I'm a big proponent of putting out only as much design as you need. If you can draw it, have the user feel confident in your solution, and have your team reach a shared understanding of the plan - then you're good.

share|improve this answer
+1 for switching media when you have to. No single tool has to do every job...there is significant value in switching fluently between whiteboards, paper, Visio, mockups, etc. – Alex Feinman May 31 '11 at 16:19

Whiteboard+marker and/or paper and pencil work for me. I have heard many say so too. It is, in a way, connecting the dots between what is desired and what is existing.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.