Planning For The Unexpected

Insights from a road trip into virtual prototyping.


Last month we undertook a big family trip. My parents, my brother and his family came from Belgium to California, and together we embarked on a trip across the Northwest United States. Starting in Silicon Valley we drove via Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City to Yellowstone. Afterward, we crossed over to Seattle and Portland to finish off the trip with visits to Crater Lake and Lassen Volcanic National Parks. In total we travelled about 3,400 miles (5,500 km).

One of the unique sights in Yellowstone.

For those of you who have been there, it is probably not a surprise that Yellowstone was the absolute highlight of the trip. It just has everything: lots of wildlife, beautiful sights and unique wonders of nature, including a wide variety of thermal activity, as you can see above. One of the coolest things happened when we were waiting in a traffic jam, most likely caused by some bison crossing the road further up. Right next to us was a river and at a certain moment we saw an osprey dive into the river and fly off with a fish in its claws. The speed and accuracy with which the bird caught the fish was quite amazing.

Given that our group of travelers was quite diverse in age, level of interest and willingness to hike (we decided afterwards to “train” our children by going on hikes more often), it was important to create a balanced schedule and plan all the hotels and main sightseeing events in advance. Starting a virtual prototyping project is a bit like embarking on a big trip. Given that there are different software developers with different needs, it is important to carefully plan the different deliverables. And it is not just a matter of what needs to be available, but also when. It doesn’t help if a specific virtual prototype is available, but can’t be deployed because the software developers are still working on something else.

Phased virtual prototype (VP) availability enables software teams to start early, focus on the main software pain points and get value quickly.

And similar to exploring nature, where you’ll never know in advance what type of animals or incredible sights you will encounter; it is also hard to predict which part of a virtual prototype will provide the most value. Depending on the issue, the ability to control and overwrite register values, or the context trace or function trace information might enable the software developer to find the cause of an issue more quickly and reduce the overall software bring up time.

With the right preparation and planning, virtual prototyping can be quite rewarding. Software development in incremental stages is an immense benefit of virtual prototypes, which is amplified by the wide gamut of unique capabilities that are bound to bring a smile to the software developer’s face when he or she finally resolves a nasty bug.

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