In the early development stages of the Interactive Forecast Preparation System's (IFPS) Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE), progress was slow for a number of reasons. Long turn-around time between software releases, limited exposure to users, and infrequent communication between the developers and users contributed to this problem. However, the rate of progress improved dramatically when the Rapid Prototype Process (RPP) was begun in June 1999. RPP introduced a new software development paradigm that solved many of the problems that plagued the project earlier. Under the RPP, developers released software every 6-8 weeks. This provided a short turn-around to quickly correct and verify software bugs, as well as develop and refine new techniques and ideas. An e-mail bulletin board was established to help foster daily communication between the developers and GFE users. In addition, GFE users met face-to-face with developers periodically to discuss new ideas that would allow the users to more efficiently edit digital weather forecasts.
Since the RPP began, much progress has been made toward the goal of efficiently producing digital forecasts at National Weather Service forecast offices. This paper describes the RPP process and examines the essential ingredients for its success. While the activities that foster communication between developers and users are essential, other factors such as team dynamics, good leadership, and field expertise are also critical to the success of RPP.
Supplementary URL: http://www-md.fsl.noaa.gov/eft/EFTHome.html