The coronal heating problem is one of the major outstanding challenges in astrophysics and, while there has been considerable progress in both theory and observations, it remains a subject of controversy. There have been exciting developments recently on the observational front, with new results from, in particular, Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) (Lin et al. 2002) and Hinode (Kosugi et al. 2007). But there is something of a gulf between theory and observations. The idea of forward modelling has arisen as a means of bridging this gulf and enabling theories to be confronted with observations. The RAS discussion meeting held in January this year focused on new developments in coronal heating and the role of forward modelling.