Serena Software will today freely release its Prototype Composer, a tool for prototyping business applications.

Prototype Composer is a requirements visualisation and prototyping tool designed to simulate how applications will look and function before a developer writes any code, Serena said. The intent is to ensure that an application will meet business requirements from the onset, thus avoiding costly, time-consuming rework.

With the Prototype Composer product, Serena is attempting to solve the problem of business users not always describing everything they want in an application, or being cryptic about it, Nathan Rawlins, Serena senior director of product marketing, said.

"What I've needed all along is an app that's as easy to use as Microsoft Office that allows me to drag and drop controls and screens together so that it looks like a real app," Rawlins said. The resulting prototype can be turned over to a project manager, business analyst, or developer who can then build the application itself.

"Our mission here is really to bridge the gap between business and IT," Rawlins said. Working prototypes are produced that function like a real application.

Users can design the application interface and the flow of interaction with other applications.

By offering the Windows-based product for free, Serena hopes to entice users to purchase its other software, such as application lifecycle management and project and portfolio management products.

"Most application development organisations out there are using some sort of Serena app," said Rawlins.

Serena recently made a splash by introducing Serena Mashup Composer, for point-and-click development of mash-up applications.