Prototype Model in Software Engineering

Prototype Model in Software Engineering

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Updated on Oct 13, 2023 14:25 IST

Prototype is a dummy which is prepared before start working on the actual project.In this article different types of prototype models are covered as well as different phases of prototype model are also covered.


A prototype model is a simplified version of your concept to promote its feasibility. It’s a tangible model that allows you to identify your product’s weak and strong points. In addition, it helps you understand the inner workings of your product and make adjustments before you produce an actual product.The prototype model requires building a working prototype of the system before developing the software. A prototype is a toy implementation of the system.

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Table of contents

Real life analogy

  1. In manufacturing, a prototype is a refined version of your product based on user feedback. For example, when developing a car, the manufacturer starts with a prototype— or model — that costs less and incorporates new technology. Afterward, the manufacturer makes minor adjustments until they arrive at the most optimal vehicle. In contrast, when developing a business idea, the inventor first creates a prototype to determine the most cost-effective materials for the product. This allows them to avoid wasting money on materials that don’t yield positive results.
  2. When you go to an architect to build a house, he first asks you about your requirements, like the number of bedrooms, and bathrooms, What type of elevation you need, etc. Then, he designs a map or makes a prototype to show you and get your approval. You can suggest some modifications to it. So accordingly, the prototype is refined further. If you approve it, the actual work of building the house starts.
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What is a prototype model?

A prototype model is essential in any field where innovation is needed. It allows people to validate your ideas and improve before producing a finished product or service. Furthermore, when creating a physical exercise program, it’s helpful to test several techniques and determine which works best for you. Now the question comes:

Where is the prototype model of software development well suited?

The answer is when a customer cannot define requirements clearly and when the user is ready to be actively involved and can provide feedback. 

For example

  • Online systems and web interfaces typically involve a high degree of end-user interaction and are best suited for prototype models.
  • A shopping website is also an example where a prototyping approach can be implemented. You can develop various web page prototypes for shopping pages, such as catalog pages, product order pages, etc., and submit them to customers for approval.

Phases of Prototype model


Suppose a customer want a wireless survelliance robot,which will record the happenings around it and he can access the recording remotely through application. He will first tell his requirements to the manufacturer.The requirements could be like-24/7 video recording,should be robust,user friendly application interface, charging of inbuilt batteries through solar panel.

1. Requirements gathering and analysis

In this phase, system requirements are defined in detail. During the process, system users are asked what to expect. 

The system should have the same functionality as the client’s projects. It is essential to create a realistic system model so that the requirements can be realistically met. A realistic model allows you to test your assumptions and demonstrate the absence of bugs.

2. Quick Design 

The second stage is preliminary or rough design. In this phase, a simple design of the system is created. However, it is not a perfect design. This gives the user a quick overview of the system. Rapid design helps prototype development.

3. Prototype 

During this phase, the actual prototype is designed based on the information from Rapid Design. This is a small working model of the required system.


4. User Review 

The proposed system is presented to the customer at this stage for initial evaluation. It helps you find strengths and weaknesses in your working model. Comments and suggestions are collected from customers and made available to developers. 

Continuing the above example suppose after checking the prototype the customer feels that he needs 360-degree camera to cover video from all directions or motion and object detection should be there.Then he will ask the manufacturer to include these features and the manufacturer will update the existing prototype.

5. Refine the Prototype 

If the user is unsatisfied with the current prototype, the prototype should be improved according to the user’s feedback and suggestions.  

This phase is an iterative process until we reach the final product. This phase ends when a prototype has been created that meets all the requirements specified by the user. Iterations should be continued based on feedback to improve the prototype and meet user requirements. 

6. Product implementation and maintenance

Once the final system is developed based on the final prototype, it is thoroughly tested and put into production. Routine maintenance to minimize system downtime and prevent catastrophic failures Perform routine system maintenance to minimize system downtime and prevent catastrophic failures.

Types of prototype models

1. Rapid throwaway model 

The rapid throwaway model relies on basic requirements. They are created to see what the proposal will look like in the end. Customer feedback changes the requirements, and the prototype is rebuilt until the conditions are met.  

2. Evolutionary Models 

Evolutionary prototyping is also known as breadboard prototyping.The prototype is created with limited functionality. The developed prototype is the basis for future prototypes built on the entire system. New features are added as new requirements arise. Prototyping based on evolutionary models is functional when using new technologies. It is also helpful for complex systems where all functions must be checked. 

3. Incremental model 

Incremental prototyping divides the developed model into smaller prototypes. These prototypes will be further developed individually. Features are added to each prototype until it reaches the final product. Finally, these prototypes are combined into one product. This method helps reduce the time it takes for users to provide feedback between the user and application development team.

4. Extreme prototyping

Extreme prototyping techniques are mostly used in his web development. It consists of three successive phases.

  • A basic prototype containing all existing pages is in HTML format.
  • A prototype service layer can be used to simulate data processes.
  • Services are implemented and integrated into the final prototype.


For prototyping to be effective, you must design a prototype that meets three requirements. Firstly, it must represent the idea you wish to test quickly. To do this, it must be easily understandable by those who view it and have all required features present. Secondly, it must be feasible to produce based on its design so that testing can take place without delay. Lastly, any changes made during testing should translate directly into making the finished product more effective— otherwise, there is no point in creating a prototype in the first place.

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