Visualizations through iRise give users the ability to create visual, interactive prototypes of new software projects that look and act just like the real thing, before a single line of code is written. This can be a major help in application development. I have written a bit about iRise before (see AppFusions’ Integrations of iRise® Visualization with Atlassian JIRA, Confluence).
Recently, I spoke with Pete Indelicato, Senior Product Manager at iRise, to get a broader overview of their capabilities and an update on their latest moves. Pete primary responsibility is understanding customer needs and defining solutions to meet those needs. He then works closely with the iRise team of engineers to build out the solutions, as well as marketing for sales enablement.
Most recently, Pete has been focused on “platform capabilities” based on APIs that let partners and customers leverage and extend the iRise platform. He also manages the relationships with their integration partners, like AppFusions.
These extensions, like the Jira and Confluence integrations, allow the iRise platform to better fit into customers’ various processes and ecosystems, and the APIs lets other organizations contribute to and customize the capabilities of the iRise platform. iRise is in the middle of creating a new set of APIs focused on events and analytics.
I asked Pete for a brief overview of their Enterprise offering and how iRise helps their customers. He began by saying that while communication is key to successful software development, many teams still rely on static documents, pictures and low fidelity click-through prototypes to communicate requirements, interaction design, and more.
For today’s rich, interactive software, these types of communication tools are not enough. The iRise platform allows teams to define and develop software collaboratively while focusing on a high-fidelity iRise simulation as the key communication asset.
These simulations can be constructed in a few minutes by non-technical business analysts or user experience professionals, without writing a single line of code. You simply have to drag and drop application components to build a simulation. Then you add functionality by drawing lines indicating the course of user interactivity and data flow. In the screenshot, you can see a sample iRise studio screen on a tablet and a smart.
The simulations can then be used to communicate with business and technical stakeholders to make sure the organization is building the right thing. Then, using other platform capabilities (such as RM integrations and code generation), the latter stages of the software definition and development can benefit from the ultra-realistic iRise simulation.
Pete went over several use cases. First, requirements solicitation can be made more effective. It can be difficult to engage business people who provide requirements when you are limited to offering them a text summary of the design with some static screen shots or a low-fi prototype. With iRise, the designer can show their team how the application looks and, more importantly, works to gather much more effective feedback and reduce the number of iterations and rework.
This same principle operates for interaction designs. Interaction designers can experiment with multiple approaches to solving the same problem while gathering useful feedback from potential users without having to build the software.
Then downstream, communication between designers and implementors is facilitated through the use of simulations of the design that look and act like the designer’s vision. Meanwhile, many related tasks such as documentation and training development, and even selling, can get a critical jump start while the application is still being built based on the iRise simulations.
Pete said that the iRise simulations are the most realistic simulations you can create without writing code and that is one of the reasons they call them “simulations”, not “prototypes”. They not only look accurate (visual fidelity), but act accurate: the user interactions and the data/logic in the simulation are also high-fidelity. This latter capability is particularly important for efficient software development.
In most cases, the simulations that their customers create are indistinguishable from the production product, developed through code, that comes out months later.
When you think about the level of engagement, quality of communication, and all the parallel activities that iRise simulations bring to the table, the advantage integrations and extensions into a variety of ecosystems becomes clear.
I next asked Pete about their application integration strategies.
He said that very few software engineering / development organizations have identical ecosystems (tools, processes, habits, etc.). iRise could spend many many thousands of dollars trying to make a complex “one size fits all” product, but instead they are choosing to open their product to integration. This strategy not only facilitates more efficient internal development of their iRise Connect products, but it allows customers like AT&T and partners like AppFusions to build additional extensions and integrations that help iRise fit in other ecosystems.
The simulations are built on web technologies (HTML, CSS3, etc.). That makes them easily embeddable into other web-based platforms like Confluence and JIRA. Putting iRise simulations in context of the collaborative environments and other development assets (e.g. story cards) makes that blend of information an ultra-effective communication asset. Then, when team members not familiar with iRise simulations start to see them embedded in streams and story cards, they will start asking “Where can I get one of those?!”
Pete offered specific use cases for the Confluence and JIRA integrations that AppFusions created. Developers often use the Confluence wiki to create requirements documents. You can embed iRise simulations right in the Confluence-based requirements documents (video | listing). For the JIRA integration, the issue tracking tool, is often used for more granular requirements or specific issues. (video | listing.)
Again, iRise simulations can make the communication and handling of these development related issues much more efficient and effective.
Visualize 2012 is this year’s version of iRise’s annual conference where they gather practitioners, customers, and thought leaders for three days of workshops, presentations and socializing. The 2012 session will occur in Las Vegas, October 8-10. Speakers include Graeme Hackland, the Lotus F1 Team’s IT/IS Director responsible for all the Team’s Information Systems and many members of the iRise team, including CEO, Emmet Keeffe. They will also be doing workshops on their iConnect capability covering all the ways to use their APIs.
Pete said they are very excited about the potential of their APIs because every day, it seems, someone has a new, inventive idea about a new integration, report, extension, etc. Of course, they build the APIs with specific use cases in mind, but without fail someone outside of iRise thinks of a way of using iRise APIs in ways they never thought of. He added that it is a good day every time that happens!
Pete is thankful that innovative companies like AppFusions and SquareOne Solutions are willing to spend some time exploring the possibilities with them. As iRise moves forward it is continuing to expand the number and type of API calls to support further integrations. They are also making significant infrastructure changes to support their more rapid product development.