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Prototyping Model | Advantages and Disadvantages | Software Engineering

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prototype modelIntroduction, advantages and disadvantages of prototyping model,
Software Engineering Notes | Sixth Semester,
BSc.CSIT | Tribhuvan University (TU)

Prototyping Model
Prototyping: An iterative process of software development in which requirements are converted to a working system that is continually revised through close work between developer and user.

Prototyping modelFig: The Prototype Model

Often, a customer defines a set of general objectives for software but does not identify detailed input, processing, or output requirements. In other cases, the developer may be unsure of the efficiency of an algorithm, the adaptability of an operating system, or the form that human/machine interaction should take. In these, and many other situations, a prototyping model may offer the best approach.

The prototyping model begins with requirements gathering. Developer and customer meet and define the overall objectives for the software, identify whatever requirements are known, and outline areas where further definition is mandatory. A “quick design” then occurs. The quick design focuses on a representation of those aspects of the software that will be visible to the customer/user (e.g., input approaches and output formats). The quick design leads to the construction of a prototype. The prototype is evaluated by the customer/user and used to refine requirements for the software to be developed. Iteration occurs as the prototype is tuned to satisfy the needs of the customer, while at the same time enabling the developer to better understand what needs to be done.

Prototyping model should be used when requirements of the system are not clearly understood or are unstable. It can also be used if requirements are changing quickly. This model can be successfully used for developing user interfaces, high technology software intensive systems, and systems with complex algorithms and interfaces. It is also a very good choice to demonstrate technical feasibility of the product.


  • A partial product is built in the initial stages. Therefore customers get a chance to see the product early in the life cycle and thus give necessary feedback.
  • New requirements can be easily added.
  • Requirements become clearer resulting into an accurate product.
  • As user is involved from the starting of the project, he/she tends to be more secure, comfortable and satisfied.
  • Flexibility in design and development is also supported by the model.


  • After seeing an early prototype end users demand the actual system to be delivered.
  • Developers in a hurry to build prototypes may end up with sub-optimal solutions.
  • If not managed properly, the iterative process of prototype demonstration and refinement can continue for long duration.
  • If end user is not satisfied with initial prototype, he/she may lose interest in the project.
  • Poor documentation.
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