Rapid Prototyping: The Fastest Way to Make Your Idea a Reality

We’ve all been there.  Driving in the car, standing in the shower, or lying in bed about to conk out.  It’s when we least expect it that our best ideas come to us.  Just drifting away in your thoughts until you strike gold.  Unfortunately these aren’t favorable scenarios for putting your ideas into action.  Who knows how many flashes of brilliance have faded into nothingness or stuffed into the eternal pigeonhole? Don’t let this happen to you! You need a lesson in Rapid Prototyping, the fastest way to turn that idea into a reality.

Experienced instructor, CTO of Boundless, and friend of Intelligent.ly, Aaron White, is teaching a class on the basics of Rapid Prototyping with Twitter Bootstrap and Google App Engine on Thursday night. This class is for people who have conceived an idea and want to see it come to life, but don’t want to wait nine months. You’ll learn the fastest way to test your ideas through rapid prototyping and to see if they have value. Even if they don’t, you still have the time that you would’ve wasted developing with other methods!

You’ve taught a class here at Intelligent.ly before, an introduction to NoSQL with MongoDB.  Having that experience under your belt, what kinds of things do you think you’ll change and which strategies do you intend to employ again this time around?

I really enjoyed answering questions as students had them. To the extent I can encourage people to ask questions, the better I can make sure they find the content valuable. Also, I intend to create/give out more resources to students so they walk away with some real value. With my class on Rapid Prototyping, I’ll be giving out source code they can begin immediately building on top of, as well as a cheat-sheet on how to go from idea to live site.

It’s been said that you once built a site, TweetFavor.com, on a flight in just five hours. In a world where time wasted is money lost, how crucial is it to be able to produce quickly and progress constantly?

Extremely valuable! There’s a lot of value placed in high-quality robust engineering, and with good reason. However, when you’ve got a new idea, validating it is priority number one. The fastest path to validation is typically the right one, so being armed with the tools to quickly build an MVP is immensely important, as is having the mindset of knowing what is critical and what you can leave out until version 1.0.

Not everyone who wants to set up a page speaks code fluently. Are there any helpful tools or resources that you recommend to those who aren’t as technically savvy?

You don’t need to speak code fluently to test your ideas. Sometimes, you don’t really need any working code at all, sometimes just a landing page will do. To that end, there are a lot of great landing-page creation tools that will do the hosting and metric analysis for you. Unbounce.com springs to mind as good entry-level tool.

You plan to educate people on the Google App Engine.  What kinds of projects have you utilized this tool for yourself?

Quite a few! Intelligent.ly‘s website was built using a Google App Engine, as was Firetower (recently acquired by Crashlytics). It’s my go-to platform for testing new ideas.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from holding these classes, it’s that even the brightest of bulbs have the potential to shine a little brighter.  If you could be an expert in one skill by tomorrow, what would it be?

Personally? I’ve really enjoyed the leadership classes from Dave Balter, Kai Gray and David Cancel. Outside of improving in those areas, I’d love to finally learn to play that Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI) I bought three years ago.”