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5 Examples of a Steel Thread

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A steel thread is a prototype that is the minimum size required to completely implement the main elements of a design. In other words, it is a vertical prototype that dives deep into the technical implementation of the design but offers only a thin horizontal slice of functionality. A steel thread is used to validate a design and prepare core components for more extensive development. The following are illustrative examples of a steel thread.


It is common for applications to completely implement a single screen of a user interface as a steel thread. A complex screen that requires all the core components of the architecture is typically selected. For example, a retail banking website with 50 screens might implement an account summary screen that pulls data from multiple sources as a steel thread.


Implementing a feature as described by a set of requirements. For example, a steel thread based on a user story for a self driving car that stops when it discovers an obstacle on the road.


Steel threads that implement an event handler such as an inventory management event that is triggered when a stock item expires.


A service or microservice such as a market data service that returns a current stock quote.


A commercial transaction such as bank transfer.
Overview: Steel Thread
Definition (1)
A prototype that is the minimum size required to completely implement the main elements of a design.
Definition (2)
A vertical prototype used to validate architecture and design.
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