In the early 1980s, when software architecture design and development started gaining steam, developers spent much of their time planning meticulously – outlining every objective, outcome, an opportunity for a project. Today, however, in a hyper-competitive environment where businesses are demanding the quick release of software applications and prototypes, developers can’t help but reduce application development time while accelerating progress.
Rapid Application Development (RAD) which rose to prominence a couple of decades ago, has successfully responded to the enterprise clarion call by delivering high-end applications with reduced time-to-market. This agile software development approach has helped IT teams and businesses join forces on several grounds including innovation in business practices, cost management, and market differentiation.
RAD – A Brief Overview
The Rapid Application Development (RAD) model allows rapid application development and prototyping which ensures quick and error-free product delivery. Unlike the conventional waterfall model which was essentially based on requirements recording and planning, a rapid application development software enables iterative development by taking user feedback into account. Similar to contemporary software development processes which are mostly knowledge and coding intensive, RAD is flexible enough to capitalize on the feedback and experiences derived from the overall software lifecycle.
Compared to other new age agile software development methods, RAD stresses on rapid prototyping in order to eradicate even the smallest of issues. Considering the fact that a RAD software enables software development on the basis of individual user interface requirements, developers have the liberty to create several integrated tools like low code that fosters quick development by eradicating the need for direct coding.
Process Segmentation – Phases of the RAD Model
RAD essentially involves four core process layers that encompass the entire lifecycle of an application starting from the design phase to the final delivery.
Defining the Business Objectives
Every software component or application is developed with a purpose. Rapid Application Development starts with determining what a particular business seeks to accomplish through an application. In this phase, the designers, developers, and testers identify the potential opportunities and outcomes of a project, along with the estimated timeline.
Analyzing Data Sets
The next phase involves a close analysis and review of the core data assets in relation to the fundamental business objectives. The attributes of the selected data sets are clearly defined and their applicability to the business is clearly charted out.
Building the Prototypes
After finalizing the project requirements, opportunities, timeline, and budget, the developer starts creating. Functional models of an application which are the prototypes. In RAD, each application prototype can be developed at the initial phase of the development itself. This significantly reduces the overall turnaround time and ensures that the final product is bug-free.
Evaluating User Feedback
Best RAD development software applications allow end-users to closely evaluate every prototype. In fact, they can also facilitate real-time collaboration between the IT team and the end-user. In this phase, the users provide valuable feedback to the developers who then analyzes the same to tweak and enhance the prototypes, developing the best possible final product.
A project cannot be deemed complete until the application undergoes a rigorous testing cycle. In this phase, a completed software application is operated under different scenarios in order to make sure that all the components work in tandem to accomplish the systems end objective. Apart from developers testing and retesting the code, this phase also involves user testing.
One of the most important aspects that make RAD a preferred development approach for system engineers and developers is its stringent testing module and turnover. In this model, the test pointers can be iterated for every prototype which ensures fewer bugs in the final product.
The Differentiating Factors
Rapid software development models like RAD fundamentally prioritizes agility and speed to help IT teams enhance productivity and project outcomes. But, in addition to speed, there is the host of other aspects that make this application development procedure an ideal option for developers.
A RAD software application enables a developer to segregate a project into several modules. Every module is treated as a single prototype which undergoes a separate phase of testing. At the final stage, all the tested modules are winded together to craft the final product. This systematic approach which keeps testing at the heart of development significantly reduces the application delivery time besides ensuring that the same is free of unwanted bugs.
Effective Market Analysis
In this method, every completed prototype can be evaluated by the end-user. Thus, it becomes convenient for the developer to closely analyze the prospect for further enhancements and suggestions. The final alterations underlined by the end-user can be easily incorporated, as it affects only a single prototype and not the overall product and its functionality as a whole.
Conventional waterfall development models do not support iterative overlays within an application blueprint thus, they often tend to delay the design, development, testing and deployment cycles. On the other hand, with RAD software development, the developers have the added advantage of analyzing user needs and sentiments while implementing successive iterations within the application, according to user suggestions and feedbacks.
Easy System Integration
RAD software development fosters easy system integration by helping developers assimilate all the modules during the early phases of development. This significantly curbs the number of issues arising from the final integration process. Since all the modules are properly synchronized at the very beginning, the chances of component mismatch arising at the later stages of development are also very low.
Reusability of Application Components
RAD ensures easy reusability of application components with rapid prototyping and modularity. By implementing reusable components which are already functionality tested, developers can deliver bug-free products complying with the even the most stringent quality standards.
The best RAD software often comes with integrated features spanning across the entire application lifecycle. Such applications can help developers deliver productivity advantage over conventional programming approaches. It’s important to understand that RAD is best suited for projects intended towards the development of systems for innovation and differentiation. After all, these are the projects that demand more business involvement, as well as more iterations to stay abreast of the current trends.