|Part I: Introduction to Prototyping|
The chapters in this part of the book provide an overview of the prototyping process. They explain what
prototypes are and how you can use them to help control development. Later parts of the book focus on
more specific prototyping issues.
- 1. Reasons to Prototype
This chapter explains why you should build prototypes. It explains how a prototype can help you define
application functionality, test application architecture, determine project feasibility, build the development team,
- 2. Kinds of Prototypes
This chapter describes different kinds of prototypes. It tells what evolutionary, throwaway, and other kinds
of prototypes are and what you can learn from each.
- 3. Prototypes in the Lifecycle
This chapter tells how you can incorporate prototypes into different kinds of development lifecycles. It explains
how to use prototypes to control development in waterfall, successive refinement, staged delivery, and
other lifecycle models.
|Part II: The Prototype Lifecycle|
The chapters in this part of the book explain how developers can use prototypes during the main
phases of application development: analysis, design, development, and testing.
- 4. Analysis
The first step in building an application is understanding the customers' needs. This chapter explains how
you can use prototypes to refine and validate your understanding of those needs. The prototypes built during
this phase of development can become a living specification, showing how the application should behave during
later stages of development.
- 5. Design
The design phase is often the most neglected phase of application development. In their rush to start writing code and
produce a visible result, developers often throw a design together in haste and assume they can work out the
details later. This chapter explains how you can use early prototypes to check user interface and system designs to
make sure they will work before developers waste a huge amount of time building an application that doesn't satisfy
the customers' needs.
- 6. Development
Development is what most programmers think of when they think of application development. This is when the
programmers actually write the code. This chapter explains how you can use prototypes to keep the coding effort
focused and on track during the development phase. By holding the programmers to the application's design,
the prototype can keep them from wasting effort on unproductive dead ends and unnecessary features that
would make the final result less usable.
|Part III: Prototyping Techniques|
The chapters in part III describe specific prototyping tips you can use to make prototyping smoother.
- 8. Wizards
This chapter describes some of Visual Basic .NET's more useful Wizards. It explains the advantages and
disadvantages of Wizards in general and the Visual Basic .NET Wizards in particular. It gives extra attention to the
Data Form Wizard and the Data Link Properties dialog that you can use as a database connect string Wizard.
- 9. Loading Data
This chapter explains different ways you can load data into a prototype. Even if the final application needs
to use a full-featured database, you can save time and effort in the prototype using compiled-in data,
the Registry, resource files, and other techniques for loading data.
- 10. ADO Versus ADO.NET
This chapter discusses some of the tradeoffs between two important database technologies: ADO and ADO.NET.
Visual Basic .NET provides many features that are more focused on Web applications than previous versions
of Visual Basic were. ADO.NET includes features that make building scaleable Web-based applications easier.
Most prototypes, however, do not need Web features. This chapter explains some of the issues you should
consider when you decide whether to use the newer ADO.NET or the more mature ADO technology in your prototypes.
- 11. Database Tips and Tools
This chapter explains some specific techniques for manipulating databases in a prototype. It tells how you
can keep your application as separate from the database as possible so you can change database products
if necessary. It also tells how you can implement standard user privilege and record reservation systems.
- 12. Generating Reports
This chapter describes different methods for providing reports in a prototype. It tells how you can display
prebuilt reports, reports generated at runtime and displayed in a DataGrid control, and how to execute
database scripts to perform ad hoc queries.
- 13. Error Handling
This chapter explains basic error handling in a Visual Basic prototype. Visual Basic .NET provides a
completely new error handling mechanism using Try Catch Finally. At the same time, it still supports
the "unstructured" error handling provided by previous versions of Visual Basic. This chapter tells how to
use these different error handling approaches in a prototype, where to place error handling code, and how to
use standard error loggers to capture error information without terrifying the customer with cryptic error
- 14. Wrapping Up
This chapter explains the things you should do after the prototyping effort is "finished." This includes such
tasks as performing a postmortem analysis of the prototype, evaluating the developers' performances,
adjusting the project scope, and holding a wrap party. If you don't follow through with these tasks,
you will not learn as much as possible from the prototype and you will probably repeat some of the
mistakes you made during this project. In the words of philosopher and novelist
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.