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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The ‘New’ Rapid Prototyping

One of the people I highly regard in the MVVM/WPF spectrum is Karl Schifflett.  Not only has he contributed some absolute gems to the coding world through his blog, but he has co-conspired to open the gates to the WPF internal rendering and visual tree engine that, for many once-WinFormers-would-be-WPFers is so foreign to how they roll.

Confession time: I feel pure geek here.  I highly anticipate the next release of XAML Power Toys.  If that doesn’t come across ‘geek’ enough for you, how about this: I am actually looking imageforward to excited about the incremental version of a plug-in for an integrated development environment that leverages the existing XAML tools and adds code-generation and LoB application rapid prototyping.

Mmmmm.  Prototyping…

Anyways…I have put out a couple of suggestions that Karl is working into his next build.  Sweet. 

Raven (the project I’m working on) is growing up quickly and the rapid release schedule of the application does not really allow for, say, time to do things like code my own forms.  Working with the XAML power tools I am able draft the first few versions of a form before we start the styling and business rule authoring process.

This turns out to be very productive.  There are three apps now in the wild for Raven – Prospect, QueueMonitor and HelpDesk – and this was achieved in just three short months.

I have been able to spike out the customer stories in hours rather than days, and using a direct connection to the dev or test database (using LINQ to SQL…another prototyping tool in my developer’s Swiss army knife) and the XAML Power Toys, I can actually stitch together forms with real data that the users recognize.  This lets them get past the visual deficiencies of the iteration much more quickly.

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