Traditional development methodologies like Waterfall don’t cut it any longer. But the Rapid Application Development methodology works when companies work with small to medium-sized teams and strive for risk mitigation, accelerated time-to-market, and fewer monotonous processes like dealing with boilerplate code. In this article, we want to discuss what rapid application development is and its advantages.
How Does RAD Appear?
Rapid Application Development (RAD) originated in the 1980s as an alternative to the obsolescent Waterfall methodology. The cascade programming model was already perceived as overloaded with formalities and not flexible enough. The customer gave the developer terms of reference and did not see the result until the program was ready. As a result, the customer’s expectations were often not justified. The product could be too complicated, inconvenient, or even obsolete during development.
In the cascade model, careful planning is done in the early stages of work, but it doesn’t help foresee all the risks and complexities. So the project gets more expensive, and time is wasted.
In 1988, American software engineer Barry Boehm published an article, “A spiral model of software development and enhancement“. In it, he proposed to create not a whole program but to release several prototypes, each of which contains additional or extended functionality compared to the previous one. The user can explore and try each prototype. By getting feedback, the developer refines the application until the customer receives a finished product with which he is delighted.
The idea turned out to be promising. IBM specialist James Martin worked it out. In 1991, his book “Rapid Application Development” was published, presenting the original methodology of RAD. Two years later, James Kerr and Richard Hunter wrote the book “Inside RAD: How to Build Fully Functional Computer Systems in 90 Days or Less” analyzing the pitfalls and opportunities they identified in planning and implementing a successful RAD project.
These books laid the foundation for the practical application of RAD, and the methodology has remained in the arsenal of IT developers ever since.
What is RAD?
So, Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a software development methodology that emphasizes fast prototyping and iterative development, with the goal of delivering working software solutions in a shorter amount of time. The RAD approach typically involves close collaboration between developers, designers, business analysts, and end-users to quickly design and develop software that meets specific business needs. RAD often involves the use of visual development tools, prototypes, reusable components, and a focus on user interface design to accelerate the development process and improve the user experience.
RAD is About Speed, High Quality, and Cheapness
RAD means a high speed of development, high quality of program code,
This methodology offers not to choose two points out of three but to get them all at once.
Why is RAD about high speed?
The RAD methodology requires working prototypes to be created as often as possible. The duration of a single production cycle, from requirements generation to client demonstration (i.e., one iteration), ranges from one day to three weeks.
In many cases, a reasonable option is to divide an application into functional modules, each of which can be created and tested separately. The backend and frontend of modules are developed in parallel by different teams but according to a common scheme: from simple prototypes to more complex ones, with regular monitoring by the customer. The modules are combined into a complete software solution at the end of the work or each iteration.
Development automation tools like Comidor are useful in rapid app development. They help transfer the user’s wishes into formalized requirements and specifications based on which the program model is formed.
Why is RAD about high quality?
The client can determine which functionality he or she wants to see implemented in the next iteration. Constant interaction between the customer and the developer ensures that the application will be developed in the necessary direction, the interface will be usable, and the functionality will be in demand. This scheme relieves the programmer of unnecessary work and eliminates situations where a part of the program must be redone from scratch because of incorrectly understood data.
Why is RAD about cheapness?
Any app development needs financial resources for proper operation. What does the customer get from the software developer when the money ends?
If the developer uses the Waterfall methodology, the client receives the terms of reference and specifications of the program at the very beginning of the work. The developer decides which of the tasks to solve in the first place and does not always with a clear understanding of what is important to the user and what is not. As a result, a customer who suddenly runs out of money for a project may get a program with secondary goals but without the key functionality.
With rapid application development, the client decides what he or she needs first and constantly gets more functional prototypes (working versions of the program). If funding suddenly runs out, the client has something valuable and working.
Development goes quickly, and the customer gets the program much earlier, which saves money.
When is RAD Methodology the Best Option?
The RAD methodology has both advantages and disadvantages, as well as areas of application in which it performs better or worse. You should use RAD:
- If a project can be easily split into independent or loosely linked modules. Development, in this case, can be done in parallel by several teams, each of which will build a prototype of only one module. At the end of an iteration, the modules are combined into a complete application.
- If the software requirements change rapidly. RAD is an excellent choice when the customer understands that the program is needed as soon as possible, but some of the specifications are bound to change by the end of the work.
- When the budget is limited. Rapid application development ensures that the customer gets a product that performs its tasks, even if they suddenly run out of money.
- When the user does not have a clear idea of how the product should look and work. The program is created in small iterations, during which the specifications and requirements are constantly refined. As a result, the customer receives a product that meets his or her wishes. But it is better to formulate business goals and objectives for the application in advance.
- When you have a team of good developers and designers. The rapid app development task is to quickly create a quality product. And this can only be done by professionals.
- If the client is ready to actively participate in the project throughout the work. This means discussing innovations and functionality, testing the prototype`s security, and giving feedback. If the customer doesn’t have enough motivation, it is worth trying other models, for example, Waterfall.
Advantages of RAD:
- Development is done quickly and cheaply
- RAD provides a level of quality that is acceptable to the client
- The client ends up with precisely the functionality he or she wants
- The client can quickly make changes to the project
- Functionality that the customer needs “yesterday” can be developed first and used even if the other parts of the program are not ready yet
Disadvantages of RAD:
- RAD does not apply to large teams
- RAD depends on the customer’s involvement in the work: it may stall if he or she can’t participate in the project discussion.
RAD, or Rapid Application Development, has stood the test of time and has proven to be a reliable methodology in software development. Despite being around for quite some time, it has maintained its position as a popular approach in the industry and shows no signs of being replaced anytime soon. This is a testament to its efficiency and effectiveness in delivering quality software solutions to meet the demands of modern businesses.
Comidor Platform: Enabling Rapid Application Development for Businesses
Comidor supports rapid application development, enabling businesses to quickly develop and deploy custom applications to meet their unique needs. With Comidor’s rapid application development tools, businesses can easily create and modify applications without the need for extensive coding knowledge or IT expertise, resulting in faster delivery of high-quality business solutions.