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Rapid Application Development: Basics, Benefits, and Use Cases

Jul 23, 2022 | Tools & Services | 0 comments

The right choice of application development methodologies is the first and foremost challenge in a rapidly growing market.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

According to Statista, global software spending among enterprises is projected to reach $755 billion by 2023. The emergence of the RAD or Rapid Application Development flow became grounds for an adaptive and change-friendly application development lifecycle that would be an antagonist to the unbending Waterfall model.

Today, we’ll have a closer look at the rapid development model and its unique selling points among other methodologies.

The Basics of the RAD Model

RAD is a rapid application development model based on the Agile philosophy that prioritizes speed and ease of programming, fast releases, and iterations over strict planning.

The RAD model emerged as a setoff to the Waterfall model. The latter is a rigid software development approach that takes the development process as a linear sequence of stages. Originally, Waterfall came to programming from traditional engineering where it was used to design and build buildings and bridges.

While Waterfall relies on a rigid structure of sequential development activities, RAD aims to create a flexible process that builds on the knowledge gained during the project management lifecycle.

What are the Main Principles of RAD?

As such, the rapid model can support both incremental and evolutionary software development strategies. Typically, RAD models are used as part of another model to accelerate the development cycle of a system prototype or software tool. If the complexity of the projects is low, RAD models can be used as a stand-alone approach.

RAD’s principles focus on delivering the key benefits of rapid application development methodology, which include:

  • increased development speed;
  • low cost;
  • high quality.

To achieve the benefits mentioned above, the model also presupposes a set of pillars, including:

  • Time efficiency – the chosen set of tools and technologies should aim to reduce development time;
  • Prototyping – creating prototypes based on unique customer requirements;
  • Iterative development – each product version is based on the customer’s evaluation of the previous version;
  • Collaboration – the development team should cooperate closely with one another, with each member taking over multiple responsibilities;
  • Combining testing and system development.

RAD principles hold true throughout the whole development cycle, which is typically broken into four stages.

What are the Milestones of RAD?

Unlike the traditional model, the philosophy of RAD is based on four stages, where each seamlessly flows into the next one. All stages may overlap and remain flexible to any changes. Let’s have a closer look at each of them.

Stage 1: Requirements Gathering

Also known as business modeling, this phase boils down to rigorous, yet open-ended planning. The team defines business and project requirements, prioritizes features, and outlines information needs. This stage also defines the scope of the project, timelines, budget, and the number of platforms. The planning stage is of utmost importance to deliver a high-quality digital product adjusted to the client’s needs.

Stage 2: Data Modeling and User Design

Once the team and stakeholders hand-pick all requirements, it’s time to analyze and group them into categories. The data is then polished and grouped into a set of data objects that are important for the business.

During this stage, the team also performs user design tasks, including prototyping, JAD sessions, and others. Software architecture should be flexible enough to welcome all changes later on.

Stage 3: Application Generation

The software is built with automated technologies that help create software prototypes from the process and data models.

Stage 4: Testing and Cutover

The testing phase involves putting a ready product to rigorous tests. Once testing is complete, the product can be deployed to the server. A deployed project usually requires maintenance and polishing, including new features.

What are the Benefits of Rapid Development?

Rapid software development has become increasingly popular in recent years. The main reason for this is that it offers several benefits, including:

Reduced Cost

The RAD approach can help you reduce costs and increase productivity. You will be able to reduce your overall budget, as well as reduce the time it takes to develop a product or service, while still maintaining its quality.

High-quality Software

Rapid software development allows you to create high-quality products and services at an affordable price point. By using rapid methods, you will be able to produce top-quality code in a short amount of time without compromising on quality or performance. This means that your users will always have access to top-quality content with no delays in delivery time.

Easy Implementation

RAD development can help reduce implementation costs thanks to its use of modular code frameworks and agile methodologies.

Speed

Rapid software development enables you to move into production much faster than traditional methods. For example, if you’re working on an idea for a new app and want your first version ready for launch by the end of the month, rapid software development can help you deliver it in just three weeks.

Simplicity

Rapid software development simplifies the process of creating complex pieces of software. This is because it allows teams to focus on what they do best – developing code – rather than spending time on other tasks like managing servers or building user interfaces. It also means that products are developed in smaller chunks, so they’re easier to manage and test before they go live.

Predictability

Rapid software development provides predictability because it gives teams a clear timeline for when each stage of their project will be completed. This means that companies can plan ahead and make sure they have enough time to complete each stage of their projects without worrying about delays or unexpected costs.

The Downside of the RAD Model

Although boasting game-changing benefits, this software development approach is still not a universal option. First of all, the development team and stakeholders need to put much effort into the requirements. The methodology is also unsuitable for limited budgets since it presupposes a significant number of changes and experienced developers to transform your business idea into a prototype. Lastly, this model calls for close team collaboration and bodes well only for short-term or urgent projects.

The Final Word

The RAD model is the secret sauce behind reduced time-to-market and easy implementation. Thanks to the incremental flow, this methodology enables the customer to get a fast result that manifests itself in a prototype. However, this software development approach is not compatible with all projects. Instead, it’s used as a band-aid for systems that need to be deployed in a few months.

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