How Rapid Application Development brought speed in software development
Before the Agile Methodology was the common buzzword in software development, it was the RAD model that bought flexibility to the whole process. Rapid Application Development moved the waterfall model out of its place ever since its introduction in 1991. Here is a brief overview of how this approach works.
Software Development isn’t a simple process. It takes a lot of effort on part of the client, software developers, and the software development companies to get together and create a sophisticated and bug-free website/application.
While software development has existed way before the 1990s, the software development methodologies were actually derived from that of other engineering models. The first of these was the waterfall model, a sequential model in which the stage of processes in development take place one after the other, sequentially.
The waterfall model was a rigid approach used in the fields of civil engineering, automobile engineering and such. However, software development was a completely different ball game for such a model. So the RAD (Rapid Application Development) model was introduced by James Martin in 1991 through a book of the same name.
RAD addressed the issues with rigidity in the waterfall model with its flexible approach. Years later, it was the Agile Methodology that became a buzzword and is used by top software development companies today. As you’ll read ahead, I’ll explain how RAD is different from Agile methodology, and why Agile took over the RAD model over time.
What is RAD (Rapid Application Development model)
The RAD model is a software development approach focused on rapid prototyping rather than planning and completing a project in a sequence. This involves the creation of prototypes at different levels, which are shown to the client. Then the subsequent iterations of these prototypes are done with the client’s feedback, and over time it results in the completion of the software development project.
In other words, RAD is literally about less talking and more action. The prototypes are developed in a way that makes them reusable, thus saving time for software developers to implement new changes and correct previous mistakes.
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Phases of the Rapid Application Development model
1. Planning the requirements- Business Modeling
The first phase in the RAD model is to plan the requirements of the project. This is where the designers, developers, project managers, and the clients meet and plan about the scope, application, specification, timeline, budget, among other details about the project. This information is to be used in the subsequent stages of the process.
2. Identifying data requirements from the Business model- Data Modeling
After defining all relevant business information related to the project, the developers identify all data requirements that will be used in the subsequent phases.
3. Converting modeled data into information- Process modeling
In the phase of process modeling, the identied business and data requirements are processed to create information that fulfills a given business objective, i.e., the intentions for which the software/website is being developed.
4. Creation and testing of prototypes- Application Generation
This is the most interesting phase of a software development project done through a RAD model. Here, the prototypes undergo a continuous cycle of creation and feedback. Since these are prototypes, they are an incomplete software, and codes are re-used after feedback from clients.
5. Testing & Turnover
The created prototypes are independently tested after each iterative improvement made after feedback. Since it’s a cyclic process of creating, resetting and modifying prototypes- testing is the most repeated process in the RAD model. After all, features implemented are approved after feedback, the project is considered done and successfully turned over to the client.
Where does the Rapid Application Development model fit in Agile?
Rapid Application Development preceded the Agile methodology, however, it is just similar to Agile in the sense that both these are flexible development approaches which use continuous development & testing of the software product through different iterations before its delivery. However, there are a few aspects differentiating both of them, which are as follows:
1. The RAD model focuses on building and testing rapid prototypes for speed, whereas Agile focuses on iterations of them in order to build a robust end-product. The key difference between these is the fact that rapid prototypes are incomplete versions that software developers make with the aim to showcase or test a specific feature. On the other hand, prototypes with iterations are an enhancement to an already existing version made by software developers.
2. In conditions where changes are made according to the evolving needs of the external business environment, an Agile approach is way better than rapid application development, since companies can hire software developers to app up new iterations on already existing versions and make the software function better.
3. Honestly, comparing them doesn’t make any sense. Because Agile is an entire methodology. It’s a philosophy, while RAD is just a model to get a project done.
So when should one use the Rapid application development model for Software Development?
1. RAD is applicable when there are not a lot of features you want to add on a software. Since RAD uses rapid prototyping, any prototype, when works and fits the desired objections can be approved and forwarded for testing.
2. RAD is the best choice for quick completion of projects. So if want a software ready for your enterprise as quickly as possible, RAD is the way to go.
3. If you don’t actually care about perfection, and only need a working software instead of a robust one. Unlike the waterfall approach, you can choose to finalize a prototype at your own risk if all you care is about getting your project turned over as quickly as possible.
So this was a brief overview of the Rapid Application Development model. Though Agile has taken over RAD now in terms of application, RAD was the first development approach tailored for software development, unlike the waterfall model which preceded it. Today, many companies still use the RAD model and hire software developers and testers to work with the flexibility this provides to them.
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Feel free to voice your opinions in the comment box if you learned something new, or have any suggestions to share. Thank you for reading, Chao!