Building great web applications is challenging and all great web applications start with a proof of concept or prototype.
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
- Bootstrap (or Foundation)
- Angular UI-Router
- Angular UI Bootstrap / angular-strap
- (insert Backend as a Service [BaaS] of choice)
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.
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.
What are some of your favorite tools and frameworks for rapid prototyping? We’d love to hear your war stories in the comments.