Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Graphical user interfaces (Computer systems), Software prototyping, Rapid prototyping, Interactive fiction


There are many methods of rapidly prototyping a graphical user interface (GUI), the most prominent being paper prototyping and wireframe prototyping. In paper prototyping, the developer creates a physical GUI prototype using simple materials such as paper, pencils, and tabbed cards. Paper prototyping, while easy to implement, leads to unrealistic and awkward user interaction. Wireframe prototyping involves the use of simplified software tools to develop a primitive version of the proposed user interface. This method enables graceful interaction, but requires major implementation e↵ort. I propose a middle ground: a method of rapid, interactive GUI prototyping using Interactive Fiction (IF) tools.

I have modified Gargoyle, an IF environment, to render and display SVG in the interactive console. I have also built libraries for the Inform 7 IF description language, enabling SVG rendering of GUI elements. The resulting system, GUInform, permits a GUI developer to use Inform 7 to define the elements of a GUI prototype and how they respond to interaction. A user can then interact with this prototype by typing textual commands and viewing the displayed responses.


Portland State University Computer Science Department Technical Report #13-01, June 2013.

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