A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semantics, design, electronics, and software programming. A prototype is designed to test and try a new design to enhance precision by system analysts and users. Prototyping serves to provide specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one. In some workflow models, creating a prototype (a process sometimes called materialization) is the step between the formalization and the evaluation of an idea.
The word ''prototype'' derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον ''prototypon'', "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος ''prototypos'', "original, primitive", from πρῶτος ''protos'', "first" and τύπος ''typos'', "impression".〔
==Basic prototype categories==
Prototypes explore different aspects of an intended design:
* A Proof-of-Principle Prototype explores some functional, but not all, aspects of the intended design.
* A Form Study Prototype explores the size and appearance, but not the functionality, of the intended design.
* A User Experience Prototype captures enough aspects of the intended design that it can support user research.
* A Visual Prototype captures the size and appearance, but not the functionality, of the intended design.
* A Functional Prototype captures both function and appearance of the intended design. It may be created in with a different method and scale from final design.
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