Difference Between Waterfall and Prototype Model: Welcome another new post of Difference between the series of posts. This time we will compare yet another two software development models- The waterfall model vs the prototype model. These days many people believe that both these approaches are redundant and belong in the trash bin of history. However, this is not true at all and there still are situations when one approach is more convenient and suitable than another.
Understanding the differences between the Waterfall and Prototype Model will help you to decide which approach is preferable in each particular case. First of all, let’s briefly discuss what these models are and their main difference:
There are two basic approaches to software development- The Waterfall and Prototype Model. The common characteristic of these two models is that they both consist of various phases of development. These phases are divided into the design and implementation parts.
A waterfall model is an approach used in software development that consists of a series of sequential steps from the beginning to the end namely requirement, analysis, design, programming, testing, and maintenance. “Waterfall” metaphor refers to the fact that data flows or “falls” in one direction from one step to the next. All phases are carried out sequentially, with no backtracking or jumping ahead allowed.
The main advantage of this approach is that it guarantees that every stage has been completed satisfactorily before the project proceeds to the next phase in its life cycle. However, the Waterfall model is rigid and inflexible. That’s why the waterfall model is not applicable in all situations and scenarios.
For example, some software projects are so large that it is impossible to plan every aspect of the project before developing any part of the application. In addition, such an approach requires a huge amount of time-consuming and expensive planning which makes the waterfall approach unrealistic for many small businesses, startup companies, or individuals that often prefer the fast and agile prototyping models.
Prototype Model is very similar to Waterfall model with one significant difference—Prototype model includes the prototyping phase at the beginning of development process to allow for flexibility, changes, and updates due to new information gained during testing. In other words, the prototype model makes waterfall more flexible and agile.
Prototyping is a technique used in software development to create a model or example of what the final application will be like with its features, capabilities, and design. This allows users to engage with the new system and provide feedback at an early stage of development which helps developers to modify their plans before they begin creating the rest of the product.
Prototyping is a highly beneficial and cost-effective approach for projects that need frequent user feedback and changes at the initial stage of development. It allows to spot and solve problems before implementing functionality into code.
A prototype model is basically a “fast track” to implement the idea or solution in the real world. This approach consists of three main phases – 1) Preparation, 2) Prototype, and 3) Implementation.
Prototyping can be used in various situations: to test a particular functionality, to learn how different people interact with it, or to determine if there’s enough interest for its implementation. Prototyping may also be helpful when trying to create innovative solutions in some new technology or improve the current ones.
Prototyping is a great way to be sure that you know what you need and how it should work. You can also identify the features that are most appreciated by users and which ones confuse or don’t matter to them at all. It’s much easier to make changes that won’t affect the entire functionality of your application- only a few lines of code in your codebase. And all this can be done before you start coding and spending time, effort, and money on something that users don’t need at all.
The prototype model offers great flexibility and reduces the risk of failure. It also contributes to increased productivity by reducing development time.
If you already used the Prototype model or are interested in using it in your software development projects, you may find this list of the most popular prototyping tools below very helpful. Each tool has its own strengths and limitations, so it’s important to choose not only the right tool for the job but also the best one for your specific project.
Difference Between Waterfall and Prototype Model
Here we are going to discuss the difference between the Waterfall model and the Prototype model. As we discussed above Waterfall model in software development is rigid and inflexible. That’s why the waterfall model is not applicable in all situations, circumstances, or scenarios. While Prototype model is also similar to the waterfall with an additional prototyping phase at the beginning of the development process letting for flexibility, changes & updates due to new information gained during testing.
Here we are going to discuss the detailed comparison between the Waterfall model and the Prototype model.
Waterfall Model vs Prototype Model :
Difference # 1
Planning: In the waterfall model, during the planning phase all requirements of the project are set up first which is not possible in the prototype model as in the prototype model prototyping phase comes prior planning phase.
Difference # 2
Time: In the prototype model, time is not allocated for planning like in the waterfall model. As we discussed above that time allocation is a mandatory and inevitable part of the waterfall model only. But here it’s optional within the prototype model. It means if you are working with a client who has a fixed budget and required timeline to meet the project deadline, then you should consider the waterfall model only.
But if you are working with a client who is flexible in terms of the required timeline and budget & wants a high-quality product with maximum output within the minimum time period, then the prototype model should be your first option while developing the software.
Difference # 3
Requirements: In the prototype model, requirements are not fixed. It means that requirement gathering is also different in the prototype model. Requirements specified during the planning phase of the waterfall model are fixed & final but in the case of the prototype model it’s not the same as the requirement gathering stage is completely dependent upon user interaction and feedback of the proposed solution by potential users. But here you should remember that each project has a different requirement gathering stage.
Difference # 4
Planning & Requirements: If you are planning to use the waterfall model, then requirements have to be fixed first prior to the start of the development process. It means that in case of any changes come into play even after the completion of the coding and testing phases, then it’ll require re-designing and re-development process.
But when you are using the prototype model, then you can make changes right after the completion of testing for all requirements, which is not possible in the case of the waterfall model. You can also add new features on-demand without a need to follow any particular order or sequence because the requirement gathering stage for this model is based on the interaction of users and testers, not on the developer or product owner.
This process is called the iterative development model (which is also named as Agile Model) which breaks down complex projects into smaller pieces to speed up the development cycle & deliver high-quality products. It’s a more time-efficient, cost-effective way to build complex software applications for every business and organization.
Difference # 5
Testing: When you are working with the waterfall model, bug fixing takes place after coding & testing but in the case of the prototype model it’s not possible same like waterfall model because bugs can be identified and reported before any line of code is written which is not possible in the waterfall model.
Difference # 6
Testing & Bugs: In the waterfall model, you have to execute all the tasks from the beginning as per requirements and if any changes come into play then it’ll require re-designing of code which also means that time & cost of the project will increase.
It’s not considered a bug-free process. But here in the prototype model, you can make changes to the existing product when found any issue even after the completion of the coding and testing phase so it’s a cost-effective way of solving bugs for every project.
Difference # 7
Bug fixing: In the waterfall model, bug fixing is done by re-designing code which is time-consuming and costly than the prototype model. But here in this model, you can make changes to the existing product when found any issue even after the completion of the coding and testing phase so it’s a cost-effective way of solving bugs.
Difference # 8
Flexibility: Here I’m not talking about flexibility as per client requirement but here in this model, you can make changes to the existing product when found any issue even after the completion of the coding and testing phase so it’s a cost-effective way of solving bugs.
Difference # 9
Duration: In the waterfall model, the time period is fixed for every stage whereas in the prototype model it’s not the same because the duration of each stage depends upon user interaction & feedback.
Difference # 10
Risk factor: In the waterfall model, it’s a high-risk project for every organization because it takes more time to develop and its cost is also high as compared with the prototype model but in the case of this model each stage gets completed after the completion of the previous stage so there will be less risk factor for every project.
Difference # 11
End results: Here the end result is not the same as per client requirement but in the case of the prototype model it’s possible which is not like the waterfall model because requirements are gathered by testing with actual users in the real environment rather than assumptions and guesswork. So this article clearly shows the difference between the waterfall model and prototype model.
Hope this article will help you to understand both models in a better way and will help you for making the right choice by providing information that is required by a newbie who wants to choose one of the two development methodologies.
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