iRise Application Simulator
starting at roughly $250,000
El Segundo, California
Even though my own focus tends to be on smaller development
projects, every once in a while I like to look at systems targeted for
the enterprise. It took me quite a few years to realize that development
in a company with 5000 developers was more than just buying 5000
licenses for some tool and putting everyone under one roof. To
coordinate the enterprise, you need some serious infrastructure.
iRise Application Simulator is definitely a product aimed at being part
of that serious infrastructure. The problem they're trying to address is
one of the tricky handoffs in the development process. Most large
business projects start with collecting requirements, which are then
handed off to the developers to implement. All too often, when the
implemented system comes back to the business people who came up with
the requirements, the response is "but wait! That's not what I wanted!"
The goal of iRise is to allow the business analysts (the people who are
right there developing the requirements) to build a simulation of a
Web-based application without doing any coding. There are a lot of other
approaches to this, of course. iRise is designed to be smarter and
closer to a real application that index cards or whiteboards, much
easier to use than building a VB6 prototype, and friendlier to end users
than a typicaly Requirements Management system. Perhaps the closest
analog is something like PowerPoint. If you're a comfortable Office
power user, you should be able to master iRise.
iRise provides a number of tools to let you create a high-fidelity
simulation in a matter of hours. A drag and drop IDE lets you define the
pages of a Web application; you put in logic by drawing lines between
pages. You can import sample data from CSV files, or type it straight
into a spreadsheet-like interface. Web page mockups are also created
with drag and drop. A central repository of design elements makes it
possible to share corporate standard elements between applications.
Because an analyst can create a simulation quickly, it becomes possible
to go back to the ultimate end users and say "here, is this what you
were thinking of?" Rather than wait weeks for a beta version from the
developers, users can quickly iterate with the analyst to reach a state
where the simulation captures their requirements.
At that point, you can pull the requirements back out of iRise's
repository (which includes the models, the requirements they're
capturing, various reports, and so on) and pass them off to the
development team, along with the actual simulation, which can serve as a
reference application. This is the point where things would be
implemented into whatever platform your enterprise actually uses. The
final goal is to get users the software that they actually wanted. From
what I saw, there's a good chance of this happening, and in large
projects, that could easily save substantial money.
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.