I've done projects with and without prototyping (I'll avoid the term
because it's associated with GUI builders, VB, and the like, which
I've not bothered with).
One problem is that prototype means
different things to different people. I've seen the term applied to:
- GUI mockups to show the users/marketroids
- proof-of-concept to try a particular strategy or collect statistics
- the simplest thing that could possibly work
- a failed first version of a program
To me, one of the problems with the "build one to throw away" model
is that it assumes that one of the following is true:
- the techniques/tools/languages used to build the prototype are somehow different from the final version
- it's too hard to convert the prototype into a shippable, high quality product.
This doesn't have to be the case. If you look at the practice of
, the emphasis is on
gradually iterating a system design through constant refactoring and testing.
So you don't have one to throw away, you just evolve the system until it meets all
of its responsibilities.
I think there's a tendency in many organizations to view massive restructuring
of code as something that is just not done, rather than as a part of normal development.
That's sad, and may have something to do with deficient tools (it's much easier
to refactor in Perl or Smalltalk than in C++, and the Refactoring Browser makes
it simple and foolproof in Smalltalk).
By minimizing the work done (i.e. not writing anything until it's actually needed),
and by testing constantly as new capabilities are added, you always have a working
version that will do something. So your system is always its own prototype.
This seems more efficient than throwing one away.
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