Recently a company by the name of Usability Matters released a great new tool for Axure called “Validator.” The tool promises to help you save time by automating form error messages in your Axure prototypes. Something every Axure user has likely spent a lot of time doing.
I downloaded Validator and spent a couple of hours with it and I’m going to share with you my thoughts on whether or not it meets the challenge of streamlining the process of creating and automating forms.
How does it work?
I’m not going to spend much time talking about how Validator works. As the download page linked above does a great job of walking users through the process. But to give you a birds eye view, simply add an asterisk to your text fields, and Validator will do the rest. Pretty great, no?
You can also validate emails, passwords, as well as specify where to place error messages, among many other settings controls. Validator comes with a detailed settings panel that give users quite a bit of control on how they’d like Validator to both look and function.
Will I save time?
The big question most users will have is “Will I actually save time using this tool?” As an advanced user, I think I probably spent as much time customizing the settings panel as I would have to simply create the error messages and validation myself. But I say this as someone who has gone through the process of creating validated forms many times in Axure.
For new Axure users, as well as intermediate users, Validator will save you a ton of time and make it very easy for you to quickly add validation to your forms. For advanced users, it’s tougher to tell if this solution will actually save time. I think it will come down to the scope of your project. If you have a significant number of forms in your prototype that need validation, Validator is a great solution. If you have a simple login form and nothing else, it’s probably a wash.
What could be improved?
I definitely ran into some hiccups in placing the error messages. The settings panel gives you only modest control of where to place it. You can put them above, below, or to the side. But often I want to place the message above the input, but to the right side. And I couldn’t figure out a way to do that with this tool.
Another issue is that this tool will only work with the native Axure text fields. Which makes sense of course, but I rarely use the native inputs these days. Unfortunately they still lack quite a bit of design flexibility, so I usually find myself creating custom inputs for most of my prototypes. And Validator won’t work on those.
Do you recommend using this tool?
Absolutely! I think I will get a lot of great use out of Validator. And Usability Matters has been kind enough to offer it for free. So you’re really not out of anything if you download it and end up not using. Plus you might end up putting a smile on the face of your boss, a client, or a stakeholder when they see how realistic your forms are. At the very least this is a good way to win some brownie points.
All in all, this is a wonderful tool that is surprisingly powerful and intuitive to use. The creator(s) have gone to great lengths to make the tool flexible, as well as to give users guidance on how to quickly get Validator up and running.