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Prototype Generator - Data driven requirements modelling and definition and immediate executable prototyping

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000185328D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Jul-21
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Jul-21
Document File: 2 page(s) / 108K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Business / Clients / Users rarely know accurately what they want in an application until they see it, and can describe what they DON'T like about it. This concept drives the need for rapid prototyping tools, so that an application can be mocked up quickly, and feedback be gained immediately, to ensure the right application is built the first time. Such tools are also useful in getting early user buy-in, for development of training, and in general to improve communication through all parts of the SDLC. Some prototyping tools are very visual, and require the manipulation of fields on screens, consuming significant time in exercises which are overly cosmetic. Usually the most important thing in business applications is the presence and correctness of the right data fields on the right screen in the correct sequence. These issues drove the development of the Prototype Generator MKI - an earlier iteration of the current proposed tool. The MK I allowed business analysts to define application screens using simple formatted spreadsheets, and for these sheets to then be transformed into XML representations, which were then navigable as HTML web page representations of the target application. Feedback from the MKI invention was very positive. The main opportunities for advancement which have been highlighted as a result of feedback included: 1. Users want to see data persisted in the prototype - ie the original tool produced static HTML pages. Data could be included in the pages by being included in the generated XML. A user could modify the data on a particular page, but this modified data would not be carried through to subsequent pages, as it was not actually stored anywhere. 2. Similar to the above issue, the static XML/HTML representation did not allow for modelling of data validation rules. 3. The investment in developing these spreadsheet models of the application would reap more benefit if some aspect of the target application could actually be generated from the model. These issues are addressed by the proposed Prototype Generator MK II.

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Prototype Generator - Data driven requirements modelling and definition and immediate executable prototyping

Disclosed is a solution, combining technology and approach, which facilitates the rapid (instant) prototyping of a system solution, using capture technology (spreadsheets) which are available almost universally to business and IT users. This approach facilitates the creation of high fidelity prototypes. As a result, the quality of communication between business and IT is increased, and communication loops minimised. The result is an increase in the quality and density of information which can be communicated during a definition cycle, and the shortening of the path into development. With the suggested approach and tooling, all of this is achieved with commonly and/or freely available technology, connected with the generator / compiler which is proposed as part of this invention.

The invention has 3 main technology components as follows:

1. Pre-defined spreadsheet template pages, which are populated and used to define a set of screens and related data entities. An overview of the templates used for the Prototype Generator MK I can be provided. These templates would be modified for the Prototype Generator MK II, including allowing for the definition of further field validation. Using spreadsheets as a definition tool is critical to the proposal. Spreadsheets are available almost universally to users, both business and IT. As such, the cost of entry with this approach is close to zero - both in terms of licencing and training for users.

2. An application used to process the populated spreadsheet, and transform into the target format. This application contains and abstracts out the complexity of turning the spreadsheet model into an executable proto...