Rapid Prototyping with AngularJS

   Angular
Rapid Prototyping with AngularJS

Building great web applications is challenging and all great web applications start with a proof of concept or prototype.

The majority of single page web applications in production today using modern technology typically leverage a JavaScript framework or library. Pick your flavor: Angular, Ember, React, Backbone, Sencha, Knockout; the list goes on. These frameworks are vastly different and highly opinionated from each other in the their approach to building web applications.

The common theme between each of these frameworks and libraries is that you generally never really stop writing HTML.

For those who are comfortable writing and “designing” with HTML and the need to develop rapid prototypes, there is a clear choice; AngularJS. If you put a piece of an Angular template in front of a designer with minimal web development chops, chances are they could get the gist of what that templates functionality is. They could also more than likely style that component or directive quickly and easily.

The Prototyping (and beyond) Stack

In the early stages of product development, focus should be on validating functionality and challenging assumptions. At Modus Create, this typically means rapid prototyping in combination with user testing and verifying those assumptions. One rapid prototype stack that We’ve used with great success has been:

Desktop and Responsive Web Apps

Mobile Web Apps / Hybrid

  • AngularJS + Ionic Framework
  • Angular UI-Router (required dependency of Ionic)
  • Cordova (PhoneGap)
  • (insert BaaS of choice)

When testing assumptions about your application, worrying about boilerplate functionality should be the last thing you need. Using either (or both) of these stacks will get you off the ground and into prototyping quicker – they will flat out make you more productive.

I’ve personally used both of these stacks to move from nothing to something sizeable with basic functionality within several days.

You thought it couldn’t get faster.

Many developers can spend days or even weeks planning out the scaffolding for a new project – and we’ve all been there. Making sure that every architectural detail is thought out before development even begins isn’t always the best approach for verifying your idea/prototype even has legs. This can all be mitigated with scaffolding generators.

Generate this!

Yeoman will get you off and running even faster. Need to generate basic scaffolding for an angular app? There’s a generator for that. What about an angular app that runs on top of Node/Express? There’s a generator for that. What about scaffolding a new Ionic HTML5 Hybrid project? Ionic has a command line tool that will get you started. I think you get the point.

Some of our favorite yeoman generators:

Nothing is perfect.

It can be said that generators are not without their flaws. Just like any JavaScript framework, generators are opinionated. They may not structure your code the way you thought they would. They probably install dependencies you don’t need. Fortunately for us, none of this gets in the way of creating amazing proof of concepts.

Wrapping up

What are some of your favorite tools and frameworks for rapid prototyping? We’d love to hear your war stories in the comments.


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