Rapid Application Development or RAD means an adaptive software development model based on prototyping and quick feedback with less emphasis on specific planning. In general, the RAD approach prioritizes development and building a prototype, rather than planning. It saves time, delivers a top-quality product, and also the client can provide feedback. So, the final product is up to their standards. Ever want to learn about the Rapid Application Development Model? Then this article is right for you.
That’s one of the major reasons why rapid application development (RAD) was conceived. It was designed to assist developers in fast-track the product design and planning stage to deliver products rapidly.
This development method, combined with user feedback, allows developers to position all their resources on building and testing features. All of these are to make the final product work as expected.
How Does Rapid Application Development Work?
There are four basic steps that structure the RAD process. They contain listing your requirements, generating the prototype, managing the feedback, and building the product, with the last two steps happening in parallel:
List your requirements
Any project requires planning, but in RAD, this step is quick and easy. There’s no need to gather stakeholders together to prioritize requirements. Plans are broad, and project requirements are generic enough to supply general direction at each stage of the project cycle.
Get the prototype out
Here, the development process begins, which follows the overall scope of the project. Developers collaborate together to make many prototypes. And they are then presented to the client for feedback and for further direction.
Manage the feedback
As development teams gather feedback about their prototypes, they get a far better picture of what the client wants. Since feedback usually concerns everything from functionality to design, development happens at a faster pace with fewer wasted resources.
Build the product
At this stage, final development commences. But teams can still gather feedback from the client to perfect the details regarding usability, maintenance, and other technical aspects.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Rapid Application Development
Rapid Application Development Advantages
We’ve covered some advantages of RAD already, but let’s restate them and expand.
|Speed||In the traditional waterfall approach, developers were unlikely to go on vacation after delivering the product. Clients would invariably request changes ranging from interface to functionality after the first delivery. With RAD, projects are more likely to finish on time and to the client’s satisfaction upon delivery.|
|Cost||In rapid application development, developers build the exact systems the client requires, and nothing more. In waterfall, IT risks building and fleshing out complex feature sets that the client may choose to get from the final product. The time spent building zombie features can never be recovered, and that means the budget spent on them is lost. RAD programming reduces this risk and therefore reduces the cost.|
|Developer Satisfaction||In the traditional waterfall approach, developers work in silos devoid of feedback and positive affirmation for a product well-made. And when they finally get the opportunity to present their work to the client, the client may not roll out the red carpet for them. Regardless of how proud developers are of their work, if the client isn’t satisfied, developers don’t receive the accolades they so desperately seek. In a rapid development environment, the client is there every step of the way and the developer has the opportunity to present their work frequently. This gives them the confidence that when the final product is delivered, their work receives appreciation.|
Rapid Application Development Disadvantages
Those advantages sound pretty rosy, so let’s douse this warm positivity with a cold splash of reality.
|Scale||A close-knit team of developers, designers, and product managers can easily incorporate RAD practices because they have direct access to one another. When a project expands beyond a single team or requires inter-team communication, the development cycle invariably slows and muddles the direction of the project. Simply put, it’s difficult to keep a large group of people on the same page when your story is constantly changing.|
|Commitment||In waterfall, the client spent most of their time apart from the development team after completing specifications. This allowed clients to focus on their primary tasks and developers to focus on building. In a rapid application environment, the frequent cycle of prototypes requires developers and clients to commit to frequent meetings that, at the outset, may appear to consume unnecessary cycles.|
|Interface-Focus||Rapid application development methodology motivates developers to find the perfect solution for the client. The client judges the quality of the solution by what they can interact with—and often, all they interact with is a facade. As a consequence, some developers forego best practices on the back end to accelerate the development of the front-end-focused prototype. When it’s time to deliver a working product, they patch up the jerry-rigged server code to avoid a refactor.|
How is RAD different from Agile?
Rapid application development and Agile are both terms used to describe an iterative process of software development. Either method aims to tackle the issues that traditional development methods—like a Waterfall approach—are prone to have. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences between them.
“Agile software development” came to prominence thanks to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, a short list of essential principles and guiding values for agile development. In short, they largely coincide with RAD; an iterative design process, regular contact with customers/users, and welcoming changes in requirements are just a few commonalities between them.
However, rapid application development differs slightly from Agile development when it comes to the software itself. While regular inputs from users is one of the key features of Agile, the process nonetheless retains a focus on solid system architecture and design. Essentially, Agile development strives to achieve the same iterative flexibility as RAD without sacrificing any sustainability or technical excellence.
When is a rapid application development approach suitable?
In short, there are a few requirements and a few situational factors that could lead you to choose RAD over other methods. Perhaps the most crucial requirement, though, is having a reliable and sizable pool of users that can test your product and provide feedback. Without enough concrete user input, a project can quickly become stagnant, taking the “Rapid” out of RAD.
Similarly, RAD requires a competent base of developers to quickly and effectively implement the changes users want to see. If you don’t have the staff for a successful RAD project, it would make sense to hire talented developers to see the product over the line; of course, this option could get expensive down the line. Either way, the process depends heavily on timely tweaks and consistent results, so having the proper staff is crucial.
Alternatively, if you simply need a project done quickly with little initial planning, RAD might be an enticing choice. Of course, the aforementioned constraints are still in play, but if they’re not an issue, approaching a project with rapid application development could produce the fastest results.
FAQs on Rapid Application Development
The 5 phases of rapid application development are business modeling, data modeling, process modeling, application generation, and testing and turnover.
However, to ensure that all RAD benefits can be enjoyed, the four essential aspects of “Tools”, “Methodology”, “People” and “Management” should be present. “Tools” refer to powerful CASE tools that provide automation support for systems development.
Rapid application development (RAD) is an agile project management strategy popular in software development. The key benefit of a RAD approach is fast project turnaround, making it an attractive choice for developers working in a fast-paced environment like software development.
There is no short answer here; the cost of RAD tools typically varies based on a number of factors. They are often priced based on the number of users or apps you’re planning for, so the larger the team, the pricier it’ll be. Many platforms also offer different pricing tiers and free trials, so it mostly depends on your requirements.
Apart from a shorter time-to-market, one of the most significant advantages of RAD is client involvement. RAD emphasizes incremental and iterative delivery of functioning models to the client instead of following a rigid process model like the traditional SDLC.