6 Essential Questions to Understand Rapid Application Development Methodology
April 24th, 2018 • RAD
Rapid application development is a term that’s gaining a lot of attention among the IT crowd. RAD methodology is a way to create software quickly and efficiently, without having to resort to development models like the Waterfall model, which is inflexible, making it difficult to change functions and features once you’ve built the software.
The concept, as radical as it may seem, isn’t something that popped up overnight. It’s been in the industry for decades. It’s gaining traction now because of the rapid explosion in software development requirements.
But when and how did it take the industry by storm? Who introduced it?
What is Rapid Application Development Methodology?
RAD methodology is a software design methodology that’s designed to counter the rigidity of other traditional software development models–where you can’t make changes easily after the initial development is complete.
RAD methodology is designed to be flexible to changes and to accept new inputs, like features and functions, at every step of the development process.
The term Rapid Application Development (RAD) was first coined by James Martin in his book, aptly named Rapid Application Development.
James Martin first developed the development approach in the 1980s when he was working with IBM. In 1991, he formally introduced it as a concept, which was built on the work of people like Barry Boehm.
However, there has been some recent confusion over how rapid application development methodology differs from Agile development methodologies.
How Does RAD Methodology Differ From Agile Development?
Because of the similarities between the two, rapid methodology and Agile development have often been thought of as one and the same.
But there are key differences that set each apart from the other.
For a RAD platform, software quality and speed are more important than meeting deadlines. While it’s faster and cheaper to develop software using rapid application development methodology, it’s not perfect.
RAD methodology is difficult to implement with multiple teams and a large number of developers. But that’s where Agile shines. Agile development is designed to take advantage of a lot of developers on a single project.
Because of this, there are deadlines to meet, and schedules to be adhered to.
To use an analogy, Rapid Application Development methodology is a 100-meter sprint, while Agile development is more of a marathon. Agile focuses on sustained and continuous progress over an extended period of time. This makes it a better solution for long projects with huge requirements.
Another difference to note is that, in RAD methodology, the primary method of calculating progress is to deliver functional prototypes as frequently as possible. But in Agile, progress is achieved by delivering a high-quality product at the time of delivery.
Why Is Rapid Application Development So Popular Now?
Well, you’re probably looking at the answer right now. With the boom of smartphones and cloud services, there’s been an exponential increase in the requirement for good methodologies to make software quickly and efficiently.
Companies can no longer afford to wait around for months and years to implement a single idea. By the time that happens, they might miss the next best thing and be stuck with a product that no one wants to buy.
In the old days, custom software was designed for huge corporations with deep pockets. Now, it’s for everyone who has a requirement. This larger audience helps reduce costs in development.
Rapid Application Development methodology is popular because it helps small teams create software that can quickly adapt to market and customer requirements.
But Does RAD’s Popularity Mean the End of Traditional SDLCs?
While rapid application development is gaining huge ground with teams to be agile and quick with development, it’s not a cure-all. RAD does not and cannot do everything traditional SDLC can do. For instance, RAD cannot handle long-term development as well as traditional SDLCs can. RAD can be extremely expensive, which makes it infeasible for companies with smaller budgets for their software requirements. RAD is also highly dependent on quick and accurate feedback, which is difficult when you can’t get in touch with your end-users at the drop of a hat.
RAD’s popular, but it’s not the killing blow to traditional SDLC.
Who Uses RAD Methodology?
Companies that work on the cloud thrive with RAD methodology. If you’ve got a product that caters to a large audience, then it makes sense to use rapid application development. KiSSFLOW, for instance, uses RAD methodology for its no-code development for citizen developers.
If you’re thinking of using KiSSFLOW to create your own apps, you don’t have to spend weeks and months on finding a way to get them to work. All you need is the idea and the logic–with just these, you can get started creating your app. If there are any changes, you can make them quickly and–crucially–without breaking the whole thing.
RAD Methodology in the Real World
Take a look at the cloud service industry right now. The thousands of products you see aren’t custom-built. They’re designed to be accessible to a wide range of companies and clients. But that doesn’t mean they’re one-size-fits-all.
Going back to our example, KiSSFLOW is a cloud workflow automation platform where you can create your own apps using RAD methodology. This is an example of a platform where rapid methodology is used to create apps quickly and efficiently.
This isn’t the only platform to do this. Platforms like Zoho Creator, Outsystems, etc., all let the user create apps according to their own requirement.
How Can I Implement RAD Methodologies in My Team?
For starters, you want to have a small team. Large teams don’t work well with rapid application development framework. That’s because there’s a constant need for communication. That doesn’t work well with larger teams, which can be inflexible and difficult to communicate with.
If you’ve got a program to create, follow these rapid application development phases.
- Plan requirements
- User design
- Rapid prototyping
- Feedback and transition
The last step is where you’ll need to keep your eyes on the ball. Feedback will need to be quick and constant, from both the client and your developer team. That feedback goes back into prototyping, allowing you to create new functions and features with each prototype. When everything is finalized, the final product is created, tested, and delivered to the customer.
Rapid application development is a concept that can be difficult to adhere to for some companies. If your company relies on multiple teams coordinating with each other for a single project, then it’s difficult to incorporate RAD software into those situations. But if you’ve got the agility to quickly cycle between prototyping and feedback–if you’ve got talented developers who are ready to change anything at a moment’s notice–then it’s worth giving rapid application development a shot.
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