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UISB – The User Interface Specification Browser

User interfaces are effective tools for communicating the functionality and structure of a product or an application (software, service) to the intended customers and especially end users. But not only in the external communication, cross-functional internal communication (within the development organisation) of the product features can also benefit from early realisation of user interfaces. The uses of user interface presentations and mock-ups are versatile and in many ways practical. From commercial standpoint this can be seen to be reflected for example in various product advertisements and marketing and brochures as well as in screenshots that make functionality listings more concrete. The creation and development of user interfaces, however, often takes place in the late stages of development work. During development, developers need to communicate with internal stakeholders as well as customers and intended end-users. In this communication, detailed technical descriptions, abstract models, diagrams, and schemes are used. These development-time deliverables are not always easily understandable by the non-technical stakeholders. During the creation of a revised or completely new product, discussions with a wide range of stakeholders are considered desirable and expected to be fruitful. Based on this foundation, we can see the need for a development mechanism (working processes and practices) and even a supporting tool that enables the early sketching and creation of user interface prototypes and mock-ups that is tightly integrated with the underlying technical development and documentation. This need and its underlying requirements have been detected in our study that was reported in the HCII'2001 conference (Koskinen & al. 2001).