Creating and Hosting Awesome Axure Libraries

Library Screenshot
Want to make your own Axure libraries? This is a short how-to guide on getting the most out of it.

  1. Plan
    • Choose a central theme.
    • Make a list of widgets that will be included.
    • Determine a common style to use throughout the library. This may include color, grid, typography, interactivity, and copy.
  2. Create
    • Open Axure RP.
    • In the widgets pane on the left, click the “Wireframe” dropdown and choose “Create library…”
    • Save the new document with a short, clear name—this will be the name that shows up in the library droplist for everyone.
    • Create each widget just like you would create new pages in a normal prototype.
  3. Polish
    • Name everything that may be interactive. A dynamic panel for showing a calendar should be named something like “panel – calendar”. A submit button should be something like “button – submit”. This will help your users during annotation and spec generation.
    • Add Rollover, MouseDown, Selected, and Disabled states to interactive shapes like buttons. Right click the object > Edit Button Shape > Edit Rollover Style (etc).
    • Many widgets may contain more than one element. Group them together (ctrl + G) to ensure they don’t get separated when your users move them around.
    • Sort the widgets. This is difficult because you have to do it manually and there is no best sort order. Play around with sorting options, such as alphabetical vs. order or importance, to find what’s right for you. It’s worth the effort.
    • Add custom thumbnails. Another pain-in-the-butt task that will improve the professionalism of your library tenfold. Take your inner icon designer out for a spin and start producing 32 x 32 px thumbnails in .png format. Apply them to widgets by right clicking the Widget > “Widget Properties” > “Import Icon”. Make liberal use of screen grabs. Even your lamest effort at producing an icon will look better than the grainy compressed default that Axure spits out.
    • Add descriptions. I don’t always do this, but for complex widgets, it can be good to explain them a bit. Right click the Widget > “Widget Properties”. Put your description in the text area.
  4. Distribute
    • Hosting .rp / .rplib files is fraught with issues due to their resemblance to .zip files. There is one true method for hosting these things successfully (take my word for it): Put the .rp / .rplib file(s) in a folder, and zip the folder. This is the file you distribute.
  5. Announce

Happy prototyping!