Ink To Code Microsoft Draws The UI
Written by Lucy Black   
Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Ink to Code is a Microsoft Garage project which lets you draw your UI and then converts it to a layout in Visual Studio. Sounds like a good idea, but is it?

We haven't heard much about Microsoft Garage, which is Microsoft's attempt to let its programmers and other engineers think up ideas and implement them. It is Microsoft's version of Google's 20% rule which lets workers spend 20% of their time on projects controlled by them. Microsoft basically provides resources for its employees to do work mostly on their own time. Recently this was extended to "interns" students who get to use the resources of the garage:

"Last summer, a group of Garage interns tackled this problem by creating a prototype of their own: meet Ink to Code, a Microsoft Garage project, now available in the United States and Canada. Ink to Code is a Windows app that enables developers to draw wire frame sketches and export them into Visual Studio, expediting the process of prototyping Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and Android user interfaces."

The program basically uses the UWP Smart Ink API to clean up a hand sketch of the interface and then converts the layout into XAML for use in Visual Studio.



You can see it in action in the following video:


Devs in the US and Canada can get the app from the Microsoft Store, but note that it isn't a full Microsoft supported app and it is to be treated as experimental.

So sketch a UI and have it converted to XAML - is this a good idea?

I'm not convinced.

Once upon a time Microsoft had some interesting software called Expression Blend. It let designers create UIs with an interactive drag-and-drop editor and was useful. For some unexplained reason Microsoft discontinued it - although it was partly rolled up into Visual Studio.

I'm not convinced that even the most technically incompetent designer is going to want to sketch a UI and have it converted to a regular layout. Sketch a flower maybe, an idea for a new car, glass, mug, dress, chair - yes, but a UI? Too much detail. Too much precision placement. But I could be wrong and Ink to Code might be just what we were waiting for.



More Information

Ink to Code, a Microsoft Garage project

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 January 2018 )