Business analysts have a challenging job in the early stages of an application development cycle. They often need work across business and IT lines to gather requirements and present them in a way that stakeholders can understand – and that developers can implement from. Creating a visualization to show stakeholders can be tricky for business analysts working at a .NET shop, said Mitch Bishop, CMO at visualization tool vendor iRise Inc.
“At the end of the day, Microsoft seems to be continuing to focus on the developer community,” said Bishop. “To create the equivalent of an iRise visualization in Visual Studio you have to drop in code.”
With iRise, users can create a live visualization of an application without having to touch any code, said Bishop. These “working previews” include interactive elements and basic functionality that you just can’t get from static screenshots or mock-ups.
Bishop dropped by the office last week to chat about some of the new features in iRise 8, released today. One feature of particular note is a new API that lets the user export the various elements of an application visualization into XML format. With this you can pack user interface, logic and data elements along with screen shots so the project team can use it for building the specification.
Bishop said this XML data can even be transformed into code, but that would have to be done outside of iRise. Unless some third-party ISV hops in with a new value-add component, doing so might involve a bit of custom work. Code generation itself is not something iRise wants to get involved in directly, Bishop said. Its customers have too diverse a variety of platforms and development styles for that to be viable.
Though I am sure developers at companies who use iRise might like to see some strong code generation capabilities, the problems iRise looks to address are ones that come from further upstream. The idea is that making a working preview that looks and feels like the end application will make it easier for IT and business to be on the same page in terms of what to expect from the finished product. Bishop said unclear expectations between business and IT can lead to a lot of rework later on in the application lifecycle.
“The big issues are that these software projects are anywhere from half-a-million to 100-million-dollar projects and typically organizations budget something like 30% for rework,” Bishop said. He said CIOs tend to appreciate getting that rework line item back at the end of development.
Other new features in iRise 8 include:
- drag-and-drop interactions
- API for creating new custom controls
- updated administration and organization features
- support for third-party content modules that can be licensed and sold
Pricing for iRise 8 starts at $6,995 per seat for the Professional Edition.