Calico is a free hand rapid design tool for the initial creative and typically informal stages of software design. Most software designers, when tasked with a design problem, tend to sketch on a whiteboard or using pen and paper first, to work out an initial solution approach, either by themselves or in a small group. Calico is designed to support this process, with features that are designed to amplify good creative design practices. Calico is designed to be used with touch screen interfaces, such as interactive whiteboards or tablet PCs.

Snapshot of Calico on a projected touch screen

Highlights of Calico's features include:

  • A fluid user interface - Calico blends the complete freedom of expression that is supported by the whiteboard or pen and paper with advanced features that seamlessly enhance the sketching experience to promote creativity and idea exploration.
  • Scraps - Ideas and diagrams can be "liften" from a drawing canvas onto scraps. These scraps behave like pieces of paper on a desk, in that they can be moved around, connected, amended, and stacked freely. Moreover, relationships among scraps can be drawn and are maintained when scraps are moved around.
  • Design palette - To support the emergence of mini design languages during design exercises, as well as to support the design session with premade icons, Calico includes palettes that provide a fluid copy and paste of (sets of) scraps.
  • Design grid - All design exploration takes place within a grid, each grid being a traditional sketching canvas. Fluid transition from canvas to canvas is supported, enabling quick exploration and organization of closely related ideas.
  • Complete design traces - Calico captures every single stroke that is made, enabling after-the-fact replay and analysis of design sessions through a separate history viewing tool.