Rapid Application Development

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Rapid application development (RAD) is each a general term, used to refer to adaptive software development approaches, further because of the name for James Martin’s approach to rapid development. In general, RAD approaches to code development place less emphasis on planning and a lot of stress on an adaptive method. Prototypes are usually used in addition to or typically even in place of design specifications.

RAD is very well suited for (although not limited to) developing code that’s driven by program needs. Graphical program builders are usually referred to as rapid application development tools. Different approaches to speedy development embrace the adaptive, agile, spiral, and unified models.

Rapid application development was a response to plan-driven waterfall processes, developed in the 1970s and 1980s, such as the Structured systems analysis and design method (SSADM). One in every one of the issues with these ways is that they were supported a traditional engineering model used to design and build things like bridges and buildings. The software is inherently completely different quite an artifact. the software will radically change the entire method accustomed to solving a problem. As a result, information gained from the development method itself will feedback to the necessities and design of the solution. Plan-driven approaches attempt to rigidly define the requirements, the solution, and also the plan to implement it and have a method that discourages changes. RAD approaches, on the other hand, acknowledge that software development may be an information-intensive process and provide versatile processes that facilitate take advantage of data gained during the project to boost or adapt the solution.

The first such RAD alternative was developed by Barry Boehm and was known as the spiral model. boehm and other subsequent RAD approaches emphasized developing prototypes further as or instead of rigorous design specifications. Prototypes had many advantages over traditional specifications:

Risk reduction: A prototype might take a look at a number of the foremost difficult potential parts of the system too soon within the life-cycle. this may give valuable information on the feasibility of design and might prevent the team from following solutions that turn out to be too complicated or time-consuming to implement. This good thing about finding issues earlier within the life-cycle rather than later was a key benefit of the RAD approach. the sooner a problem is often found the cheaper it’s to deal with.

Users are better at using and reacting than at creating specifications. within the waterfall model, it had been common for a user to sign off on a set of needs but then once presented with an implemented system to suddenly understand that a given design lacked some critical options or was too complicated. Normally most users provide far more helpful feedback after they will expertise a prototype of the running system rather than abstractly define what that system ought to be.

Prototypes are often usable and might evolve into the completed product. One approach used in some RAD ways was to make the system as a series of prototypes that evolve from the smallest functionality to moderately helpful to the ultimate completed system. The advantage of this besides the 2 advantages above was that the users might get helpful business practicality a lot of earlier in the method.

Starting with the concepts of Barry Boehm and others, James Martin developed the rapid application development approach throughout the 1980s at IBM and eventually formalized it by publishing a book in 1991, Rapid Application Development. This has resulted in some confusion over the term RAD even among IT professionals. it’s necessary to tell apart between RAD as a general different to the waterfall model and RAD as the specific methodology created by Martin. The Martin methodology was tailored toward information intensive and UI intensive business systems.

These concepts were more developed and improved upon by RAD pioneers like James Kerr and Richard Hunter, who together wrote the seminal book on the subject, Inside RAD, that followed the journey of a RAD project manager as he drove and refined the RAD Methodology in real-time on an actual RAD project. These practitioners, and people like them, helped RAD gain quality as another to traditional systems project life cycle approaches.

The RAD approach additionally matured throughout the amount of peak interest in business re-engineering. the thought of business process re-engineering was to radically rethink core business processes such as sales and client support with the new capabilities of Information Technology in mind. RAD was usually an important part of larger business re-engineering programs. The rapid prototyping approach of RAD was a key tool to help users and analysts “think out of the box” about innovative ways in which technology may radically reinvent a core business method.

Here is a great video about RAD:

The James Martin approach to RAD divides the method into four distinct phases:

  • Requirements planning phase – Combines elements of the system planning and systems analysis phases of the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Users, managers, and IT employees members discuss and agree on business needs, project scope, constraints, and system needs. It ends once the team agrees on the key problems and obtains management authorization to continue.
  • User design phase – Throughout this phase, users interact with systems analysts and develop models and prototypes that represent all system processes, inputs, and outputs. The RAD teams or subgroups usually use a mix of Joint Application Development (JAD) techniques and CASE tools to translate user needs into working models. User design may be a continuous interactive method that permits users to understand, modify, and eventually approve a working model of the system that meets their needs.
  • Construction phase – Focuses on program and application development task the same as the SDLC. In RAD, however, users still participate and might still suggest changes or improvements as actual screens or reports are developed. Its tasks are programming and application development, coding, unit-integration, and system testing.
  • Cutover phase – Resembles the ultimate tasks within the SDLC implementation part, including data conversion, testing, the changeover to the new system, and user coaching. Compared with traditional ways, the entire process is compressed. As a result, the new system is constructed, delivered, and placed operating a lot of sooner.

Pros and cons of rapid application development

In modern information Technology environments, several systems are currently designed using some extent of Rapid Application Development (not essentially the James Martin approach). Additionally to Martin’s methodology, Agile ways and also the Rational Unified process is usually used for RAD development.

The benefits of RAD include:

  1. better quality: By having users interact with evolving prototypes the business functionality from a RAD project will usually be a lot of on top of that achieved via a falls model. The code is often a lot of usable and incorporates a higher probability to concentrate on business issues that are critical to end users instead of technical issues of interest to developers.
  2. Risk management: Although much of the literature on RAD focuses on speed and user involvement a critical feature of RAD done properly is risk mitigation. It’s value remembering that Boehm initially characterized the spiral model as a risk primarily based approach. RAD approach will focus on too soon the key risk factors and comply with them supported empirical proof collected within the early a part of the method. E.g., the quality of prototyping a number of the foremost complicated components of the system.
  3. A lot of projects completed on time and within budget: By that specialize in the event of incremental units the possibilities for catastrophic failures that have dogged large waterfall projects is reduced. Within the waterfall model, it had been common to come to a realization once six months or a lot of analysis and development that needed a radical rethinking of the whole system. With RAD this type of knowledge is often discovered and acted upon earlier within the method.

The disadvantages of RAD include:

  1. The risk of a new approach: For many IT outlets RAD was a replacement approach that needed experienced professionals to rethink the way they worked. Humans are just about invariably averse to change and any project undertaken with new tools or ways are a lot of possible to fail the primary time merely thanks to the necessity for the team to be told.
  2. Requires time of scarce resources: One issue just about all approaches to RAD have in common is that there’s far more interaction throughout the whole life-cycle between users and developers. Within the waterfall model, users would define requirements then mostly go away as developers created the system. In RAD users are involved from the start and through just about the whole project. This needs that the business is willing to take a position at the time of application domain specialists. The paradox is that the better the expert, a lot of they’re aware of their domain, a lot of they’re needed to truly run the business and it should be troublesome to persuade their supervisors to take a position their time. While not such commitments RAD projects won’t succeed.
  3. Less management: One in every one of the benefits of RAD is that it provides a flexible adaptable method. the best is to be able to adapt quickly to each issue and opportunities. There’s an inevitable trade-off between flexibility and management, more of one means less of the other. If a project (e.g. life-critical software) values management quite agility RAD isn’t acceptable.
  4. Poor design: The main focus on prototypes are often taken too so much in some cases leading to a “hack and test” methodology wherever developers are constantly making minor changes to individual components and ignoring system design problems that might lead to a far better overall design. This may particularly be an issue for methodologies such as Martin’s that focus therefore heavily on the program of the system.
  5. Lack of scalability: RAD usually focuses on tiny to medium-sized project teams. The other problems cited above (less design and control) present special challenges once using a RAD approach for very large scale systems.

A few RADical Steps

Getting started with rapid application development typically follows a cyclical method that includes four basic steps:

  1. Planning Requirements: Throughout this initial stage designers, developers, and users come to a rough agreement on project scope and application needs, so future stages with prototyping will begin.
  2. User Design: User feedback is gathered with a heavy emphasis on determining system architecture. This allows initial modeling and prototypes to be created. This step is repeated as usually as necessary as the project evolves.
  3. Rapid Construction: Once the basic user and system design have begun, the development part is wherever most of the actual application coding, testing, and integration takes place. Along with User design, the rapid Construction part is repeated as usually as necessary, as new elements are needed or alterations are created to satisfy the requirements of the project.
  4. Cutover: The ultimate Cutover (or Transition) stage permits the development team time to move components to a live production environment, wherever any necessary full-scale testing or team coaching will take place.

User Interfacing, Early and Often

In slow, methodical software development ways of olde, receiving helpful and concrete user feedback has been inherently troublesome, costly, and time-consuming. Long meetings and phone calls, and even longer design docs were a necessary evil to put out even the foremost basic concrete plans of proper software design. With typical waterfall ways, rudimentary user feedback was usually several months if not years in the future, in the end, planning and most developments had taken place.

In stark contrast, one in every of the biggest benefits to rapid application development is that the ability to each simply and regularly receives feedback from users who are directly interfacing with the applying throughout development and prototyping. Whereas this advantage is most readily visible within the UI/UX components of the system, iterative design intrinsically means that user feedback is often at the forefront of the method.

A prototype of Prototyping

While numerous forms of RAD emphasize slightly completely different ideas and design methodologies, a standard inclusion in most RAD systems is that the heavy use of prototyping. As another to heavy-handed design specifications, the use of prototypes throughout the development cycle provides for a number of unique benefits:

  • User Involvement: not like a traditional waterfall model, which requires design team to discuss with users what options or implementations could be needed and plan specifications around those concepts, a rapid prototype allows users to truly use the code and supply feedback on a live system, instead of attempting to provide abstract evaluations of a design document.
  • Feasibility: Prototyping permits the development team to quickly evaluate the feasibility of a very complicated or risky component right out of the gate. By recognizing and working on complicated systems early within the development life cycle, the software is a lot of sturdy, less erring, and higher structured for future style additions.
  • Error Reduction & Debugging: With rapid prototype releases throughout a project, it’s way more possible that errors are each discovered (and later on squashed) so much earlier in the development cycle than with a typical waterfall approach.

Pros of Rapid Application Development 

While there are a variety of advantages to using a rapid application development methodology, we’ve highlighted one or two of the foremost crucial once considering whether or not RAD is that the right alternative for your next project.

  • Measurable Progress: With frequent iterations, components, and prototypes returning down the pipe, progress on the general project, further as lesser segments, are often simply measured and evaluated to take care of schedules and budgets.
  • Quickly Generate Productive Code: As a larger percentage of active software developers get in multi-discipline roles (i.e. full-stack developers), a RAD methodology permits arch team members to quickly produce prototypes and working code to Illustrate examples that may otherwise take weeks or months to see the light of day using a slower development technique.
  • Compartmentalization of System Components: A lot of within the same means that object-oriented programming practices keep objects and components isolated from each other, RAD inherently has an identical useful impact on the elements generated throughout development. By forcing designers and developers to make components that are useful and independent on their own, to be used in an iterative release or prototype, every part within the overall software system is compartmentalized and so simply changed because the wants of the software evolve.
  • Rapid, Constant User Feedback: As mentioned higher than, getting relevant user feedback throughout development is priceless. RAD methodologies yield near-constant user interfacing and feedback through frequent iterations and image releases, giving the whole team invaluable analysis and criticism once it’s required most.
  • Early Systems Integration: Whereas most waterfall method software projects should, by their very nature, wait until the tail end of the lifecycle to begin integrations with different systems or services, a rapidly developed application becomes integrated soon. By requiring early integrations within a prototype, a RAD system quickly identifies any errors or complications at intervals integrations and forces immediate resolutions.
  • Simple Adaptability: Throughout development, the software may be a fairly malleable kind. Since code are often modified that dramatically alters the whole system or generates new elements, it’s to the advantage of the development team to create use of this flexibility early and sometimes, by iterating and prototyping potential ideas or concepts throughout development.

Cons of Rapid Application Development

No software development methodology is while not fault and RAD is not any completely different. Whereas the advantages usually outweigh the disadvantages, we’ll examine many of the foremost possible roadblocks once implementing RAD into a new project.

  • Requires modular Systems: Since every element within the system ought to be iterable and testable on its own accord, the general system design once using RAD needs that every element is standard, permitting parts to be swapped in and out or altered by a range of team members.
  • Difficulty within Large-Scale Projects: Whereas speedy application development ways result in so much bigger flexibility throughout the look and development method, it’ll additionally tend to cut back management and restrictions. Whereas this isn’t inherently negative, properly managing this more flexibility and volatility at intervals the scope of the full project is often troublesome for larger applications.
  • Demands Frequent User Interfacing: Gaining user insight and feedback early and sometimes is definitely a benefit from a design perspective, however, this ambiguous sword requires that the team be both willing and able to communicate with users on a much more frequent basis, compared to a typical waterfall development methodology.
  • Depends Upon arch Developers: While several developers these days are multi-disciplined, it’s value noting that use of RAD techniques will need a greater overall skill across the development team, so as to quickly adapt as the system and components evolve.

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Aleph Technologies is a premier IT training and staffing group with state of the art facilities based in Dallas, Texas. Aleph Technologies specializes in providing hands-on classroom based and onsite IT certification training courses taught by expert instructors with practical industry experience.


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