Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a software development methodology that focuses on rapid prototyping and application development to ensure faster product delivery. Unlike traditional waterfall development, RAD focuses on iterative development process a.k.a agile development. The idea of RAD was developed out of frustration from oldie methods which led to delay in application development. The term was first coined by James Martin who along with his colleagues developed a new development methodology i.e. Rapid Iterative Production Prototyping (RIPP). In 1991, this approach became the backbone of the book Rapid Application Development. Rapid Application Development is an agile framework focused primarily on rapid prototyping of software products, frequently iterating based on feedback, and continuously releasing updated versions of those products to the market.The RAD model comprises of four phases:
- Phase 1: Requirements planning
- Phase 2: User design
- Phase 3: Rapid construction
- Phase 4: Cutover
What is the History of Rapid Application Development?
The Rapid Application Development method was designed as a direct response to the then-dominant waterfall approach to software development. The waterfall methodology was built on planning and sequential design processes. The RAD concept was officially introduced to the public in 1991 with the book Rapid Application Development by James Martin.
What are the Strengths and Weakness of RAD?
RAD’s strengths include:
- Takes advantage of the nature of software, which allows for rapid and low-cost iteration, to allows organizations to quickly and continuously improve their products
- Allows teams to break down large projects into smaller, discrete, actionable tasks
- Users can receive working products in less time
- RAD’s weaknesses include:
- Requires highly skilled development team and product designers
- Requires user involvement throughout each stage of the project
- Does not work as well with large-scale projects
- Should You Use Rapid Application Development?
- The RAD approach offers strong benefits to a team that is both familiar with the agile philosophy, has a relatively small project to roll out, and has customers or users willing to commit to being a part of the entire development project.
- But, there are several situations in which RAD may not be the best framework. For example, if your company needs to roll out a large-scale software development project, if you do not have enough skilled developers and designers on staff, or if you aren’t sure you can secure a commitment for deep involvement from your users to provide you feedback for the iterative process. In either of these situations, RAD may not be right for your team.
Phases of Rapid Application Development:
The core business models are decided and their priority of achievement is determined. The type and flow of information are decided between different business models. What information will be needed to decide the type of data structures and how will communication bridges between different business services be established is determined during this process.
Testing & Turnover
The very reason for the popularity of RAD is because it focuses more on testing and turnover. Each prototype is tested by the user and feedback is collected. This feedback is used to modify the existing project structure and implement changes in accordance with the user interaction with the prototype. The test process is iterated for each prototype leading to fewer bugs in the final application.
The next phase involves review and analysis of data objects in relation to the business model. The attributes of these data sets are defined and their relevance to the business is clearly mapped out.
The data sets and business models are aligned to create a flow of information for different models. The process for development and change both are specified. In this stage, the process structure for adding, deleting, modifying or retrieving a data set are set in place.
Advantages of Rapid Application Development:
Since the entire project is divided into modules and each module is treated as a separate prototype the time spent in delivering is considerably reduced. Each prototype undergoes a separate testing phase and all components are finally winded together to create the final application. This ensures faster delivery of the software with lesser bugs.
2.Faster Market Analysis:
Since each prototype can be tested by its end user it becomes easier to survey the prospects for suggestions and improvements. Any change is easy to incorporate as it will affect one model of the application and not the entire development in one go.
In traditional waterfall development, app development delays can result in very late arrival of the product. The idea might become obsolete or get stolen by the competitors. By using the MVP philosophy of development the need and psychology of the user are analyzed and further development is carried on only if the market seems fit.
4.Ease to incorporate changes:
Several elements of the application are processed at the same time. Since there is no process form of management, the application changes are easier to incorporate. Unlike waterfall development, the developers need not take a back step if changes are suggested in the product.
All the modules of the application are integrated from the very beginning leading to lesser issues in the final integration process. This leads to fewer bugs because all modules are properly synchronized from the very beginning.
When to use Rapid Application Development?
Rapid Application requires highly skilled developers, more budget and can only be implemented on large projects which can be splitted into modules. Also, it is not recommended to use this practice if it is difficult to collect user responses because the whole point of rapid application development is to collect user responses and move development forward accordingly.
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