New look for Crank’s Website – Same great embedded GUI tool

New SiteWhy yes! We DID get a new look for Spring 2014. Thanks for noticing!

We’ve been pretty busy lately redesigning the Crank Software website, and it’s not just a fresh coat of paint and new curtains. We changed the design, but we also paid special attention to making it easy for you to find the content on our embedded GUI tool that matters most to you. Because we’ve moved a few things around, here are some of things we think you might be interested in or looking for:

Storyboard Suite Trial Version

We are still providing a full-featured 30-day trial of Crank Storyboard Suite to give designers and developers an opportunity to use Storyboard to build awesome user interfaces for their applications. Watching videos and reading web copy can educate you about product features, but getting your hands dirty is the only way to truly evaluate a tool to see what you can do with it. And because Storyboard helps you create and deploy quickly, you can build a lot in 30 days.

Once you have Storyboard, you’ll want to check out some of the following resources…

Crank Software Video Library

When I wanted to learn how to fix a toilet (wait, what?!), the great Google gave me 40 million search results. 10 million of those were videos. Many people learn new things by watching someone else do them first. A YouTube video turned me into a “plumber” in 6 minutes. While we can’t show you how to fix your toilet, we sure do know a lot about building UIs for embedded applications with Storyboard. We know that designers and developers often flock to videos and tutorials to learn more about products and features, so we’ve been working hard to build up the video library for embedded GUI tool features on our website. Make sure to check back often as Fancy Dan continues to build new sweet videos.

Here are a couple of our most watched videos:

Literature – All Things Written on Storyboard Suite

Customer stories, whitepapers, articles and guides to get you up and running quickly – we got ’em. We’ve organized all of the written content on our site to make it is easy for you to find what you are looking for. We’ve also got some great new customer stories to share in the near future, so check back for those. It’s fun for us to see what customers have built with Storyboard and tell the world about it.

While most of our website has changed, some of our heavily-used pages remain as is, such as the Forums and Product Documentation.

The site is still new, so if you are looking for something and can’t find it, contact us and we’ll be happy to help you find what you are looking for.

Using Storyboard for the First Time…

My background is in print design. If I could describe myself with software I’d say Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, before delving into programs I used less often like Dreamweaver, Flash and AfterEffects. So hooray for all those Adobe products, they are the tools of a graphic designer, but what to do about designing a functional app? How do you do that with Photoshop? You do not. This is the story of my first time using Storyboard Designer.Storyboard Designer is Brilliant

With my background in print design I’m the sort of guy that felt special when I made buttons with rollovers. The idea of me creating is almost ridiculous. Starting was easy, I downloaded a 30-Day Trial and installed Storyboard Designer. Then I opened Storyboard Designer… *GASP Different Software Splash Screen! entering the unknown.

I think I had a fairly typical reaction to Storyboard if you consider that I’m afraid of change. I started a new project and I messed around until I got to a point where I didn’t know what I was doing anymore and then I ran away, not literally, just to reddit and watched some new movie trailers.

When I decided that I would Storyboard a second time, I went back to the Crank Software website and procrastinated by watching videos. One video that stood out to me was how to import a Photoshop file. That sounded promising because:
a) I know how to use Photoshop; and
b) it showed me how Storyboard integrates with Photoshop

There was also an Animation video which was interesting because:
a) it was quick and not all that complicated; and
b) it sounds super impressive to print-designer friends1 if you can make an app AND it has animations

With these videos I was just copying everything I saw. I would reload the videos, pause them while I caught up following along, then continue, pause, catch up etc. Things were going much better than my first attempt. Overall it was smooth sailing, but it was a little awkward being in a new place for the first time.

A new software environment had all these new views…

  • Properties View
  • Actions View
  • Variables View
  • Application Model

I made the transition from confused individual to self-proclaimed genius when I grasped that a layer in Photoshop isn’t a layer in Storyboard. These were some slow realizations that came to me:

  • A Layer in Storyboard is kind of like a Group Folder in Photoshop that you use to keep stuff together
  • A Control in Storyboard is kind of like a Layer in Photoshop.
  • Controls were just boxes that had images or text in them which is a lot like working with InDesign or Quark.
  • To plan and organize an app is similar to how you would plan and organize for a website.
  • A project folder in Storyboard is really similar to how InDesign projects are structured with a folder for images, fonts etc.
  • The Application Model is basically like a giant Photoshop Layer Palette
  • • All of the above… enlightenment.

The Application Model in Storyboard made me think about the Layers Palette in Photoshop. They’re very similar except in Storyboard you could put more types of ‘stuff’ in there, Screens, Layers, Controls, Actions, Variables and Animations. You can change the order of ‘stuff’ by dragging it up and down in the stack.

At the time, my brain was overheating with all of this new material. I would compare it to going to party when you meet 10 people for the first time and you try to remember all their names… difficult. If there was an inner monologue of me trying to keep track of what I was working on it would have sounded something like this:

… so I just made a variable, and the variable belongs to that control… which is kind of like a photoshop layer. If I have one of these action/event things happen… like touching that button control thing, it’s going to change the value of the variable and that’s going to make that control thing change.

I’m happy to report that after spending more time using this tool, that everything is more familiar and less awkward. If my Present Day Self had to show my First Time Storyboard Self how to use Storyboard I would start by saying…

Storyboard Designer = WYSIWYG design of user interfaces.

Then I would explain how everything goes together in Storyboard’s Application Model: Application – Screens – Layers – Controls. Then I would show how to organize a Photoshop file before importing into Storyboard.

After that, I would spend a lot of time looking at the Properties View and talk about Variables. Understanding properties and variables makes it easy to show how those co-relate to actions and animations. All of that makes it easier to see what’s happening on a whole when you do something like pressing a button to move to a new screen with other content. It was pretty simple after I understood how these things were connected.

The more time I spent with Storyboard the more it made sense. On cranksoftware.com, there’s documentation and a forum that can answer a lot of questions you may have. Another thing that I found really helpful were demos. You’re just looking at how someone else has done something and can learn from it as an example and apply it to your own work accordingly.

In my opinion there’s no such thing as a stupid question when you’re learning how to use Storyboard. Of course I would say that because I had a lot of questions starting out…
…how can i
…where is the
…why does the
…are you able to

Storyboard has similarities to programs you may have used, and it is different in several ways too of course. The more time you spend with this tool the better it gets. To export a finished project and run it as an app on an Android tablet is a satisfying feeling. Being able to achieve this sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t take as long as you might expect.

Try the 30-Day Trial, and install Storyboard Designer and see what you come up with.


1 print-designer-friends — realize it’s possible to create apps with dynamic content, but they think it requires magic and science working in harmony, because they spend most of their time with paper.