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Live-Wireframing Versus Programming


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In this White Paper we provide some insights into the differences between Live-Wireframe applications authoring and programming using traditional tools.

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Live-Wireframing Versus Programming

  1. 1. Live-Wireframe versus Programming Application Prototypes The Business Argument White Paper Nick Lawrie June 2017
  2. 2. 2 | E N C A N V A S ® 1. Introduction The Emerging Need for ‘Rubber-Walled IT’ Like any form of eco-system, organizations operate within a context of their environment – their market-place, their locality, the people that serve them, suppliers that provide raw materials and services, customers that buy from them. These external factors shape the way organizations behave. But there are also internal factors that influence behaviors and how decisions are made such as culture, norms of operating behavior, and perceptions of what good practice is and should be. The 20th century was about industry and mechanization. The vision of most business leaders was to achieve economies through productivity and mechanization, to become lean and mean; to be excellent at those internal processes that would drive production, market share and ultimately shareholder value. And most of these organizations, if not all, operated a command and control structure of management that meant the educated few directed the uneducated masses. Humans in this picture of a perfect organization were little more than drones that were to be owned, told what to do and then paid a salary for their labors. The 21st century is a different environment. Improved telecommunications, travel methods, computing and the Internet have all contributed to the globalization of markets. Seemingly every product or service is within reach ‘at the speed of light’ as Bill gates, founder of Microsoft® put it. The state of competition has changed with some regions of the world enjoying advantages in lower cost labour supply, while others benefit from western world brand leadership. The balance of power rests on adaptability and the recognition that markets are changing their shape and structure. Traditional Michael Porter-esque marketing strategy concepts of ‘winning market share’ have been corrupted by a paucity of examples of markets converging, deforming, transforming - and with new competitors, those able to leverage their privileged assets and operational capabilities, emerging from different industries; seemingly appearing from nowhere. Mechanization has run its course with most organizations are reasonably efficient at managing their internal processes; generally using the same tools and similar methods to achieve their outcomes. Competitive advantage is more about adapting to market opportunities and change FASTER than competitors than it is about sharpening pencils and cutting resources that support processes down to the bone. To survive and secure growth in this harsh trading environment, organizations require adaptive capabilities – rubber-walled buildings that can scale as a business grows, populated by a rubber-walled talent pool, equipped with rubber-walled IT. This white paper explains how Encanvas is not competing against programming, but is displacing the role of programming as a method of applications authoring.
  3. 3. 3 | E N C A N V A S ® Norms of Behavior in Software Delivery The traditional view of applications development has been formed around the concept of mechanization: creating software applications that automate and formalize internal processes that rarely change in support of a business model and strategy that rarely changes. In a new era of market agility, leaders need and expect their IT to become just as adaptable as their organization needs to be. One of the inhibitors to change is the fact that the majority of people engaged in the authoring of software applications today are programmers and yet the activity of programming – its consequential impact on the time, cost and complexity of authoring new applications - is itself a barrier to innovation. A significant challenge of the change facing the IT industry is that the people that need to shape IT also need to be the same people that are close to the process – and those traditional skills that were once cherished will by necessity take a back-seat to a deeper understanding of business needs and processes. The norms of behavior and attitudes that pervade in departments responsible for delivering effective information systems have evolved over decades and are unlikely to change within moments. It is taken as a given that it is less risky to purchase ready-to-use software applications rather than build them; that larger software companies make better software than smaller ones; that no software tooling could possibly have the dexterity to meet broad needs and remove the need for programming. To a large extent it serves the stakeholders of the IT industry – the large software companies, IT leaders and skilled IT professionals – to maintain this false status quo and avoid risk of change. But this status quo does not meet the needs of organizations facing bourgeoning IT costs and a slow pace of change – or knowledge workers whose business software tools fall short of their direct needs (and often the quality of applications Users enjoy on their mobile phone!). In order for change to occur there has to be evidence of ‘something better that works’. A New Organizational Design It’s unrealistic to expect change to happen in organizations ‘organically’ when departmental structures discourage change by operating budgets and incentives plans shaped around the reality of business activity today. For this reason, some organizations are today creating improvement teams – so-called ‘organization departments’ – that unite a blend of capabilities needed to affect change and embed change into organizational culture including performance management, organizational design, compliance management, human resources management, project management, business analysis and information systems management. New tooling is needed to equip these hybrid change teams with the means to shape technology as they shape processes. Organizations that have adopted this ‘internal change agency’ approach like Volkswagen Group are achieving a substantially faster pace of growth compared to industry peers.
  4. 4. 4 | E N C A N V A S ® The Evolution of Something Better That Works… First launched in 2002, Encanvas began as a Live-Wireframe technology platform to facilitate the authoring of new applications in near-real-time. Encanvas DX is the third generation of the platform. Its equips organizations with rubber- walled IT, giving them the ability to grow and shrink according to need without traditional frictional costs of change. It removes much of the programming overhead associated with custom applications development and the requirement for many specialist tools needed to author business applications. Whilst Encanvas changes the method of design, delivery and operational maintenance of IT, it does not fundamentally manifest changes in the operating environment: the applications it produces use the Microsoft® Cloud .NET Platform and standard web browsers as their conduit to Users. Case studies suggest that the outcome of using Encanvas is to cut applications time-to-market by at least a factor of ten and it produces applications and websites that can be as much as ten times cheaper to run. Organizations may adopt Encanvas as their IT platform of choice for many different reasons but the key drivers are: To create right-first-time applications faster – Encanvas is the fastest route to designing and deploying right-first-time Rich Internet portal and mobile applications that adhere to modern computing standards and embrace modern enterprise computing architectures. To create ‘secure and live’ communities – Encanvas enables organizations to design and build secure and live online communities with the added ability to embrace collaborative and social networking tools. Encanvas enables business processes to work alongside Web 2.0 tools. To shed costs – Encanvas delivers economies at every stage of the Application Lifecycle – simulation and prototyping, design, build, deploy, testing, help file creation, community design, site orchestration, maintenance, fault recovery, version release management, license management, remote support etc. To port applications to the cloud – There are many flavors of cloud these days but essentially all web host deployments today demand the use of Rich Internet portal technologies (like AJAX, balanced query processing etc.) to create the standard of usability experience and accessibility that online users now demand. To install inclusive security – Inclusive security is a modern enterprise security concept that adopts the position of including everyone in a security framework that considers the appropriate security provisioning for every role and individual. Security is critical to the success of cloud computing deployments and Encanvas provides one of the most secure technology architectures for portal deployments available in the market today.
  5. 5. 5 | E N C A N V A S ® About Encanvas Live-Wireframe Encanvas means non-programmers can author applications in near real-time within a workshop environment that directly engages and involves the intended stakeholders of the application being authored. How it works: 1. A new workspace is created on Encanvas. 2. A business analyst interviews stakeholders and defines the scope of the application and shapes the parameters of the workspace (data sources, users and user groups), requirements for records, processes, reports and meta-tables. 3. The business analyst authors a prototype ‘canvas’. 4. The business analyst and stakeholders meet in a workshop and they walk through the canvas design, iterate the application. Once satisfied with the outcome the application is deployed. 5. Stakeholders test the application and feedback change requests to the business analyst. Changes are made remotely to the site. 6. Once the iterations have been completed, the application is signed off for general release. Notes: Look-and-feel parameters are pre-defined using a template to comply with a corporate standard. The design elements of Encanvas are pre-tested for performance tuning and browser compatibility so there is no need to conduct a testing/tuning phase. All components of the Encanvas architecture are built with security provisioning in mind. This means there is no risk of security protocols being unwittingly usurped during the design process. Data access security and user permissions management duties remain under the governance and scrutiny of IT administrators. As a disruptive technology Encanvas Live-Wireframe creates a step-change in the way organizations approach how they source new applications for their business making it more cost effective and less of a risk to design and build new applications than procure off-the-shelf solutions. Many of the ‘jobs’ in the lifecycle of authoring new applications are improved or made redundant by Encanvas. The next section qualifies each of these jobs and the impact of change.
  6. 6. 6 | E N C A N V A S ® 2. Live Wireframing Transforms Apps Authoring The generally accepted key stages of application life-cycle are: (Platform) Deploy the applications environment (Design) Discovery and requirements analysis and design definition (Build) Applications authoring, testing and QA (Deploy) Documentation and Deployment (Operate) User acceptance testing (Optimize) Iteration and optimization (GR) General release (Support) Support, monitor and review requirements Deploy the Applications Environment The job: Install hardware and software infrastructure Encanvas orchestrates the formation of private clouds on-demand using parameterized configuration settings delivered through administration tools. This approach removes the obstacles of infrastructure setup and configuration. The job: Protect against data loss/ensure resilience Encanvas has been developed on the Microsoft® Web Platform and inherits all of the advantages of Microsoft’s own platform security features designed with large enterprises in mind. There is also an Encanvas Web Server used to orchestrate the on-demand serving of pages from Microsoft® SQL Server and other data repositories. This means it’s not possible for hackers to attack static web pages as they do not exist until served by Encanvas Web Server™. User Permissions policies are based on the progressive assignment of permissions unlike other competitive systems that assign Users a standard level of permissions to then progressively remove them. The job: Replicate and scale deployments Encanvas scales painlessly, creating hundreds, if not thousands, of applications and workspaces from a single integrated platform. Its Web Server Manager cockpit provides administrators with full visibility over configuration settings. All aspects of deployed applications are configured through parameterized settings negating the need for programming or the manual setup of operating environments, log files etc. The job: Maintain software environment New applications instances can be created by systems administrators using the configuration tools of Encanvas Remote(Spaces) without programming or the need to setup operating systems or applications environments.
  7. 7. 7 | E N C A N V A S ® Discovery, Requirements Analysis and Design Definition The job: Create a Job Definition Determine scope of use; Determine who will use the application; Determine what core records and sub-records are required; Determine what processes are actioned by the application; Determine the data records and tables required; Determine reports required by stakeholder groups; Determine setup meta-tables. Encanvas provides an online tool-set for creating a Job Card and Definitions for a workshop project. It establishes a simple project process where milestones can be assigned and responsibilities allocated. This builds a record of project actions and contributions to ensure appropriate governance. The structure of the Casebook builds a complete picture of requirements. This knowledge of project activities builds as a casebook for future review and scrutiny so learning lessons can be captured. 3. Why is it better than Programming? Encanvas is designed to publish the best-fit applications faster than any other means by enabling Users to work with Designers to iterate live prototypes. Encanvas inherits a principle similar in concept to Lego® bricks. The pre-formed design elements used in Encanvas adopt common parameters and interlocking mechanisms so they can be constructed in many millions of ways and yet they still don’t require programming. Given that business applications tend to follow a common form, the use of this augmented tool-kit removes time, risk and complexity from the authoring process. A more sophisticated and predictable methods-based authoring process augmented by platforms like Encanvas allow for traditionally arduous and time consuming repetitive programming tasks to be progressively identified and automated. In the case of Encanvas, the automation of forms creation, data linking, data connectivity, repetitive mouse-click tasks, undo-redo actions etc. has reduced application authoring activities from months, to weeks, to days and in some cases hours and minutes. The use of a building block style platform for applications authoring also means that aspects of applications hygiene such as security management, tuning and testing (particularly browser testing which has become a huge overhead on development teams) While programming will always have its place in the creation of expert systems, the use of programming skills and tools to author applications that are variations on a theme is a poor use of resources and only serves to add unnecessary complexity and risk to process improvement initiatives.
  8. 8. 8 | E N C A N V A S ® Intellectual Property All information contained within this material and accompanying software programs, software examples and application templates as used as part of the training course is copyright of Encanvas. All rights are reserved. It is a breach of any copyright if this manual is copied or reproduced, in whole or in part, using any means whatsoever, without prior written approval of Encanvas and civil and criminal sanctions may result. Encanvas gives no condition, warranty, expressed or implied about the fitness or quality of this information or accompanying software product. Encanvas reserves the right to make changes to this information or the accompanying software products without notice to any person or company. Encanvas shall not be liable for any indirect, special, consequential or incidental damages resulting from the use of this information or the accompanying software whether caused through Encanvas’s negligence or otherwise. Encanvas DX, Encanvas Create, Encanvas Information Flow Designer, Encanvas Web Server Manager, Encanvas Web Server, Encanvas Ring-of-Steel, Encanvas BusinessIntel, Encanvas Maps, Encanvas Mobile, Encanvas Mashups and Encanvas Live-Wireframe are trademarks of Encanvas. All rights are reserved. All other trademarks and trade names used within this file are acknowledged as belonging to their respective owners. Encanvas is intended for people confident in using software. If you do not feel confident in using Microsoft® Office applications, you may need further assistance. For details of courses and availability, visit For more information about Encanvas DX visit ENCANVAS Dove Cottage Offices, Abingdon Road, Marcham, Oxfordshire, OX13 6NU, UK t. +44 (0) 1865 596151,