Advanced Axure : Creating repeaters

What are repeaters ? What are they used for?

Repeaters are a powerful tool that appeared with Axure 7. A repeater allows the user to use real data from a table in a wireframe to dynamically build a list view. To create one, you use a special widget called a repeater. While editing the repeater, you give it the shape you want each entry of a list to display content without bothering with its labels.

Then you have to edit the table, fill it with content, and match each content column to one of the widgets from the display. Repeaters also offer advanced formatting options and functions to simulate sorting and pagination for example.

Repeaters are very useful to have a realistic view of what the content will look like despite it being a mockup, without the need to update all the widgets every time the layout changes – which would be the case if you added all the content directly as widgets inside dynamic panels.

How to create repeaters in Axure

When to and when not to use repeaters

While repeaters are very powerful, the should not be used in all prototypes. If the lists are simple and there are no huge differences in content types, it might not make sense to add real content.

They can be useful to help a client have a better impression of the final result, if they have trouble imagining it and validating your wireframe with lorem, for example. It can also reassure clients to see their content will fit in the fields that are provided.

When adding real content, it also helps you reduce the work load. Since you need to gather the content anyway, you can ask other people to create, review and edit the lists content easily in a table, and import it periodically should it change often. This is a real advantage to work efficiently on the prototype and spend designer’s time on optimising the wireframe’s usability and layout, rather than updating its content – which can be both important, tedious and taking time away from other tasks with a higher added value.

Do not use repeaters on lists where the format of the content changes frequently, or different types of content are intertwined. While repeaters are powerful, they become a huge time waster when a prototype contains many of the to maintain, and even more when they contain several versions of the same one, to simulate breaks in lists, or match different data sources or various pages. If your wireframe contains 5 repeaters with each 3 items in the list, it is likely you would be more efficient updating all the list entries manually, than updating all the repeaters every time.

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