Monday, February 2, 2015

Prototyping (Part 1)

I am currently doing some research on "prototyping". My interests concentrate on desktop applications and how requirements can be validated. In some cases a lack of understanding costs days, weeks, months or years of time. The earlier errors are found or not made the less costs arise to get back on track. So I think some additional costs and time spending is nothing compared to a completely misunderstood requirement (the more important the more expensive).

In this post I concentrate on software found in an - as good as infinite - list on ...

What I am looking for is a software which:

  • shows screens
  • offers walk-through-prototyping 
  • is optimized for web pages and windows desktop applications
  • can handle code extensions to enrich the prototype
  • uses .NET or JavaScript for enrichment
  • optional: can use photography (e.g.: paper prototypes) as base of work
before creating a list of possible matching tools here a tool for android which inspired me: POP ... it is really amazing. I would recommend to try it if you build mobile apps! ... but I don't, so I keep on looking for an alternative. (See also: )

My top 10 tools from the link list above are (with focus to the mentioned requirements / price-schemas: commercial, single-user license):
unmentioned till here: Big 3rd party vendors like telerik or infragistics built their own prototyping software. It makes sense to use their products when you use their libraries, because the prototypes are nearer to the final result (less imagination needed by the customer).

The prototyping market is currently focusing on app development and web development (clear trend). Enterprise applications (what I think often means desktop applications) are only supported by good established, bigger products. My requirements are not met by any product (found nothing after hours of research and even after looking tons of other listing pages, which are mostly subsets of the mentioned list). 

Some smart guys on the net advised to use paper only, others talk about their experience with pure drawing programs, but in my opinion such prototyping is not close enough to the final product to validate customer needs. Other opinions are to use lightswitch or other RAD tools, but I think they aren't the right way to validate the requirements either. I think this is also a bad idea because you turn from "no code" to "code it all", but it brings us to an important question:

Who should build a prototype and why? 

For validating business requirements I advice a requirements engineer, project manager or management guy. Validating technical questions like: "we want an interface, can we technically get it up and running" will be done by a technical engineer and is completely different to the other situation. I think I will dive deeper into this question in a following post.

Anyway, I think that this time there is a chance to build a product which has unique features on the market and I am looking forward to do something in this area...

kr, Daniel

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