Arduinos and bootloaders

I will try to make this as succinct as poss, but it may well end up confusing.

I was going to buy some mini Pro boards. They sound like a rattling good idea to me:
a small board with the smd version of the 328 already glued on. It's a real 'bare-bones' job,
with no FTDI and no USB port: perfect for projects where size is crucial. I have in mind some textile projects as my daughter is an artist in that field.
If I'm right about this you can program it from the USB port using a USB->TTL cable.
And that's it. Magic. But ( theres always a 'but' ) I suspect the sneaky buggers havnt included a bootloader, since they rather coyly call it 'Arduino compatible'.

Now, I had a wheeze: load it with the bootloader via an Uno ( I have one ) in the same way
was you do with a PDIP version and breadboard. Just needs a few wires soldered. Simple(s).
The it's a doddle to program it via the 5-pin connector to Rx/Tx. Can anyone spot the deliberate


You are correct. Connect the AVR Programmer to the ICSP pins - SCK, MISO, MOSI, Reset, Pwr, Gnd, and install the bootloader.
Then download sketches via FTDI Basic or comparable USB/Serial interface module.