The realization of new distributed and heterogeneous software applications is a challenge that software engineers have to face. Logic programming and multi-agent systems can play a very effective role in the rapid prototyping of new software products. This paper proposes a general approach to the prototyping of complex and distributed applications modelled as multi-agent systems and outlines the autonomous research experiences of different research groups from which the approach originates. All the experiences have logic programming as the common foundation and deal with different aspects of the problem: integration of heterogeneous data and reasoning systems, animation of formal specifications and the development of agent-based software. The final goal is joining these diverse experiences into a unique open framework.