1. Introduction

In this tutorial, we’ll discuss the software prototyping model, one of the most prominent software development life cycle models.

2. What Is Software Prototyping?

A prototype is a preliminary design or model for testing the viability of a concept. It enables us to try a new design or improve an existing product.

Prototyping helps us specify working systems based on the prototype’s performance rather than designing them completely before any coding and testing.

By using feedback from users on the prototype, we can optimize the project before development. Starting a software project with a prototype enables us to save production costs.

2.1. Why Does Software Prototyping Matter?

Prototyping is an important part of the development process of software systems, as it can help speed up the process and help us find and fix problems early.

Developing a prototype may also help us save time and money since we’ll be able to see which features still require improvement or don’t match user needs, which means less time will be spent developing the software.

Additionally, prototyping helps us to visualize a software product in its working state, which can help us come up with ideas that we might not have considered otherwise.

Finally, testing an app with potential customers can help us to ensure that the final piece of software is user-friendly.

3. Phases of Prototyping

There are four phases of software prototyping:

Prototyping phases

Each one should result in a deliverable.

3.1. Phase 1: Prototype Plan

During this phase, the team works on getting specification requirements from customers, conveying ideas to them, and finding any risky aspects of the project.

The project team documents the client’s expectations and uses those data to develop a product prototype plan.

3.2. Phase 2: Outline Definition

In the previous phase, the team collects and analyzes the client’s requirements.

In this one, the team defines the functionalities that will satisfy the client’s needs. Finally, the engineering team creates a roadmap for developing the prototype and the product.

3.3. Phase 3: Executable Prototype

We develop a prototype in this step. The goal is to complete the prototype quickly.

It’s important to get the difference between a prototype and the final product. The former is a rough sketch of the latter and serves to test various ideas. So, we don’t implement the functionalities all the way in this phase. Instead, we do it only to the extent necessary to test how they fit together or if they satisfy the client’s needs.

3.4. Phase 4: Evaluation Report

The designer presents a prototype to the clients, who give feedback on the design. Changes are made based on their feedback, and the prototype is further refined.

If all of these suggestions and feedback are addressed and met, then the final product will be developed based on the revised prototype.

4. Types of Prototyping Models

There are four different types of prototyping models in software development: rapid throwaway, evolutionary, incremental, and extreme.

It’s critical to select the best way for the particular project because each has advantages and disadvantages of its own.

4.1. Rapid Throwaway Prototyping

Rapid prototyping is a technique for creating a prototype quickly to help the designers and developers. We want to be able to quickly test various approaches with the target audience and take their feedback into account.

Further, the prototype becomes a reference for the designers and developers once all parties are satisfied.

We throw away the prototype after finishing part of the project and create a new one for the following sprint.

4.2. Evolutionary Prototyping

An evolutionary software prototype is more than just a simulation. It’s a preliminary version of a product that has some basic features and functionality.

We add new features and functions based on the stakeholders’ feedback.

The way that the features and functions add up over time shows the “evolutionary” nature of this prototype.

4.3. Incremental Prototyping

Enterprise software with many modules and components that may only be loosely related to one another can benefit from the incremental prototyping technique.

When using incremental prototyping, we create small, independent prototypes for different modules and components simultaneously.

Furthermore, we assess and improve those prototypes separately. Then, we combine them into a comprehensive whole and asses the consistency.

4.4. Extreme Prototyping

Extreme prototyping is a three-step process commonly used in web development:

  1. First, we present a basic prototype in HTML format that includes all the existing pages.
  2. Then, we use a prototype services layer to simulate data processing.
  3. Finally, we integrate the services into the final prototype.

Extreme prototyping keeps the development team’s focus on the final software product while keeping project iterations quick.

5. Conclusion

In this article, we discussed software prototyping, which is one of the most important concepts in software engineering.

Prototyping is a way of creating a working model of a software product or idea, using less time and effort than it would take to create the final piece of software.

The model allows consumers to check it out and provide feedback, which helps to improve the final software system.

A prototype is an early version of a software product that allows us to test the design and functionality before making the final product.

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