Working with variables in Axure

by Tom Stewart on 12 May 2016

Variables are an Axure RP feature that people are often afraid of approaching, as it sits at the more complicated end of the feature list. Don't panic! I've got some tips to help you get to grips with them and get your Axure prototypes to the next level.

Learning how to use variables can be extremely useful, and I personally think are simpler to get your head around than adding conditions to actions.

Learning how to use variables can be extremely useful.

Types of variables

There are two different types of variable in Axure 7 – Local and Global.

  • Local Variables – for use when dealing with information within a single page. E.g. an e-commerce price total changing if you change the quantity of items.
  • Global Variables – for use when carrying information between pages. E.g. passing text to the next page to read 'Thank  you, Tom' after I have entered my name in a form field earlier in the process.

For most prototypes, I find global variables more useful; being able to change the content on the next page dynamically depending on user choices is really handy. For more complex use of variables, in an e-commerce purchasing process for example, you may have to use a combination of Local and Global to achieve the functionality you're looking for.

Setting up variables

Regardless of which you use, there are 3 basic stages to setting up variables in Axure: Save, Store and Show. If you have a go at setting up variables and they're not working, I guarantee there will be something wrong with one of these stages.

1. Save

  • What information are you capturing?
  • Where does it come from?
  • Which action updates the variable?
  • Example Save stage: Form submit button saves the 'Name' field

2. Store

  • Create your variable and name it
  • Which variable are you updating?
  • Is it a Local or Global variable?
  • Example Store stage: 'NameVariable' is updated to reflect field data

3. Show

  • What are you using the variable data for?
  • Which widgets will the data change?
  • When do you need to display the data?
  • Example Show stage: OnPageLoad, update widget to 'NameVariable'

My top tip: Make sure you name everything (within reason). This is my general rule of thumb and my first piece of advice to everyone on our training courses. Naming things – using easy or sensible words! – makes your life much easier in Axure when you start playing with interactions, conditions and variables in particular. It's very difficult to work with 100 widgets all called 'Shape'...

If you are more interested in how to put these principles into practice, please take a look at our Prototyping with Axure and Advanced Axure training courses, where we cover variables in much more detail, alongside the rest of the Axure RP functionality.

Our Axure training courses are hosted in our London Bridge offices, or if you're interested on behalf of your team, we have private Axure training courses available – where we come to you. If you're interested in either, please get in touch!


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