For simple microcontroller prototyping there is no problem program chip from computer by using one of many programmer adapter. Setting thing up takes a bit of time, but for up to several chips this is not a big problem. But when your projects scale up a bit, flashing issue may become annoying. When you need to flash lots of them you start for more robust solution. The guys from Solderlab grew to the point where lots of AVRs need to be programmed so instead of doing this old fashion way they built an auto programmer.
Their auto programmer is capable of programming AVR microcontrollers automatically. All you need is to put hex file in to micro SD card and once powered it can flash chip automatically. Programmer can work with DIP AVR chips also program via ISP. It has a Nokia 5510 LCD where navigation menu is displayed. Here you can select what to do including: flashing, reading, reading fuses and other stuff. LCD also displays progress bar while programming and error messages if there are some. Same or more information it also outputs to UART where with terminal program you can control and monitor programming process. In order to program smoothly, hex files has to be prepared with addition header information from where programmer takes information about chip to be programmed, fuse settings, chips flash size and flash page size. Once set you can start piling chips pretty fast.