iRise Studio was designed for ease of use right out of the box. Most common tasks can be completed by a new user with a minimum of trial and error, and little or no training. As with most powerful modeling systems, however, experienced users have quite a few tricks up their sleeves to improve their efficiency, increase the quality of their work, and generally enhance the modeling experience.
In this tutorial, we’ve aggregated many of these tools and techniques so you can take advantage now of the collective experience of hundreds of iRise users over several years.
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Watch this video to see some of these tips and tools in action.
Customizing your workspace
Although the iRise modeling environment was designed to maximize productivity, the ability to customize it to suit the task at hand should never be overlooked. Simple things like magnifying page content or hiding panels that decrease the size of your workspace can provide significant improvements in speed and accuracy.
Hiding panels - The visibility of most of the panels that display by default in the Studio workspace can be toggled with a keyboard shortcut or from the View menu. This includes the Directory, Details, Widget and Comments panels.
Zooming and panning - There is no need to strain your eyes or have the fine motor control of a brain surgeon while working in iRise. Using the selection tools in the Status Toolbar or the associated keyboard shortcuts can enable you to zoom in quickly on a specific area of your workspace, and then pan across to another area without zooming out.
Navigating within your project - You will frequently find yourself switching back and forth between chapters in your project (for example, when moving between a template and a master contained within that template). You can use the Forward and Back buttons above the Directory panel (or the Alt + arrow key combinations) to make this easier.
Page Layout vs. Canvas View - Numerous interactions on a page can make edits to the layout of the page more difficult. To make it easier to access your page content and focus on layout tasks, you can switch from Canvas View to Page Layout View using the toggle buttons in the Status Toolbar or by pressing the F12 key.
Using keyboard shortcuts
As any habitual user of keyboard shortcuts will tell you, using your keyboard for common tasks and menu commands can greatly increase your efficiency. iRise Studio has an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts for doing everything from duplicating widgets on a page (Ctrl-drag) to switching between Simulation and Document View (F9).
A very concise list of the most commonly used shortcuts is provided below. The complete list is in the iRise Help System (F1), and the Studio Quick Reference Guide also contains an expanded list (Help > Quick Reference).
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Setting your Studio preferences
Not all of the options available in the Studio Preferences dialog will have a huge impact on your productivity, but at the very least, you should consider modifying the following defaults:
Show Welcome Screen - If you don’t want the Studio Welcome Screen to appear each time you launch Studio, deselect this option (or select “Don’t show again” on the Welcome Screen itself).
Open Last Project on Startup - Useful if most of your Studio sessions will be spent working on the same project.
New Widget Defaults - Changing the default settings in this category may or may not make sense depending on the needs of your current project; however, for some of these attributes (especially Page attributes), setting your defaults can help drive consistency and save time as well.
Organizing your projects
Simple projects with only a few chapters are relatively easy to maintain and keep organized. As projects become larger and more complex, however, project components can quickly become entangled and difficult to manage. To prevent your projects from getting out of control, use the Directory Panel to keep your projects organized and easy to navigate. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the Directory Panel:
Plan and use a folder structure – Especially if you are collaborating with other Studio users on projects, it is important that you use a consistent, logical folder structure in each simulation you assemble. The logic behind this structure may vary between projects, or your organization may set standards to be followed across all projects. Either way, the key is to make sure that simulation components can be accessed quickly and easily to enable rapid changes and enhancements.
Use the context menu – Right-clicking anywhere in the Directory Panel will reveal a context menu with several useful commands, including the Insert submenu to create new chapters, cut/copy/paste commands to move chapters to different folders, and the Find References command to see where you’ve used a Master in your project.
Add components to your workspace - Once elements exist in your Directory Panel, you can frequently drag them directly to your workspace to add content or functionality to your simulation. Here are some things you can try:
Drag a Template to the scenario whiteboard to create a new Page.
Drag a Page or a Decision to the canvas area of a Page to create a Link widget.
Drag a Datasheet to the canvas area of a page to create a Record action.
Leveraging existing content
Even experienced iRise users live by the mantra that you should never reinvent the wheel when building simulations. The ease with which you can import content from other projects means that you can collaborate with, be inspired by, and learn from other iRise users, either in the iRise community at large or within your organization. Here are some places you might begin your search for existing content:
The iRise iDoc Library - The iDoc Library on iRise.com offers numerous sample projects and pattern libraries, including our immensely popular iOS mobile content kits.
The Common Samples iDoc - The Common Samples iDoc is an expansive collection of best practices and techniques that are presented in a format that facilitates learning by doing. This iDoc installs with iRise Studio in the iRise directory of your Program Files (in iRise 8.10 and later, you can access the iDoc by choosing Help > Import a Sample Project), or you can download it from the iDoc Library.
iDocs for All - iDocs for All is an online file-sharing space that enables the posting of iDocs that meet a specific need or demonstrate a certain technique. Our goal is to grow this collection with user-generated content, so consider posting your iDocs as well.
Internal user groups - Many of our larger clients have actively promoted the internal sharing of iRise assets with communities of practice or centers of excellence that leverage the collaboration features of their Definition Center installations. If you think your employer might fall into this category, or you are interested in bringing these capabilities into your organization, please contact us.
Additional tips and tricks
The following quick tips should have you modeling like a pro in no time:
Provide names for everything - As you start to build more dynamic functionality into your simulations, you will quickly find that having descriptive names for the widgets you add to your pages greatly simplifies the process of configuring interactions and data flow. Try to get into the habit of naming widgets immediately after you add them to a page by typing a descriptive label in the Properties panel.
Double-click the page to create a new Text widget - Text widgets are understandably the most common element added to pages in iRise. You can easily add a Text widget to a page by double-clicking the location on the page where you want to start adding text. After you double-click, just start typing to populate the Text widget.
Control-drag to duplicate a widget (Option-drag on Mac)- You can duplicate any widget on a page by holding down the Control key while dragging the widget to the location where the copy should appear (Option key on Mac). A similar technique which is especially useful when creating a column of Text widgets is to press Control-Enter as you type (Command-Enter on Mac). This will create a new Text widget (or whatever type of widget currently has focus) immediately below and perfectly aligned with the one above it. Using this approach, you can create an entire column of Text widgets without ever taking your hands off the keyboard.
Use the auto-alignment features – The typical iRise user is a notoriously meticulous builder – laying out a user interface is rarely a hit-or-miss proposition. Fortunately, Studio provides a number of tools to help you keep your lines straight and proportions even. The View > Grid submenu provides access to these tools, which includes an Auto-alignment feature that invokes guidelines when you add widgets to a page, as well as a Snap to Grid feature that can be combined with visible gridlines to help with alignment tasks. Displaying widget boundaries (View > Show Widget Boundaries) and certain keyboard shortcuts (e.g., Shift-drag) can also help.
Collapse widgets if they obscure other objects on a page – You can temporarily collapse any widget on a page by right-clicking the widget and choosing Collapse widget. The widget will collapse to a small icon so you can more easily work around it. To expand the widget, right-click the icon and choose Expand widget (or close and re-open your project). Collapsing a widget in Studio has no effect on the widget in simulation.
Define styles for page content - iRise Studio ships with a limited set of pre-defined styles that most likely will not reflect your organization’s branding or internal style guides. Any amount of time you spend early in a project to define styles that more closely align with your needs will be time well-spent. Not only will you save yourself the multiple keystrokes and mouse clicks that might be required to apply local formatting to page content, but you will also benefit from the ability to update styles quickly and the reusability of these styles across projects.
Create and use masters - On the subject of reusability, masters provide the ultimate tool in the “build once, use often” category. At its most basic level, a master provides the ability to assemble a set of content that will appear on multiple pages in a project, which can then be easily added to those pages and easily updated by editing the master instead of each page that contains it. This in itself can be a huge time saver, but add to this reusability of masters across projects and the interplay of masters and templates, and you have a powerful tool to facilitate collaboration and the building of asset libraries.
Use datasheets to populate Select widgets, tables and tile lists - You can visualize almost any requirement in iRise using static content, which generally will require only a rudimentary understanding of the capabilities iRise has to offer. One of the capabilities that sets iRise apart from other prototyping tools, however, is the ability to incorporate dynamic data in your simulations. Datasheets in particular can be used to maintain sample datasets that can be used to populate data tables, drop-down lists (Select widgets), and more. In many cases, updating the contents of your datasheets can be much simpler than editing static content on a page, especially if the data is being used across multiple pages, or even multiple projects.