What is RAD?
One of the conveniences of developing software is that it is not a physical tool that can be lost once it gets developed or manufactured. Codes are used to implement the software and it does not disappear together with the product. We can re-use the code all over again in another software. We just make a little change in the interface to fit the requirement of the client and we have a brand new program. To make our lives even better in developing software, there are tools coming out of the marking that serves as code generators. No need to create complicated codes, we just run the system through our preferences and we have a fully functional program.
The idea of reusing codes and tools is what defines another form of Software Development Life Cycle called Rapid Application Development, or RAD. This form of software development constantly refers to the objective. Instead of creating original coding, developers use other tools such as software development kits and other graphic user interfaces to create programs. RAD also relies heavily on the available codes and reuses it to fit the intended program. Since RAD uses GUI, development kits and existing codes, software development will be faster.
The operational development of the software also works like the Prototype version. Instead of planning out and creating a single documentation, developers only have to look at the objective and use it as a “motivation” to create a program. It will be constantly tested and checked as the new “prototype” is released. Developers constantly create screens and show a workflow until it’s approved by users. It’s a very simple process since it doesn’t have to use so many original ideas. It’s basically an aggregate of different tools and cleverly using them to create a completely different software.
RAD focuses more on the visual instead of the coding or software development. Since it already uses tools for generating codes, developers will have more time setting up the GUI of the software rather than focusing on the root structure of the program. The development cycle also enlists the help of the users to make sure the product being developed could match their taste. This will ensure a good user feedback since their ideas was acknowledged and had an actual impact on the product development. RAD reduces stress in creating GUI, coding and structure since it has a remote possibility of being trashed by users.
Phases of RAD
Like most SDLCs, RAD also has a step by step process. But unlike other SDLCs, the process of developing a program under RAD is faster. Relying on sets of tools for software development, RAD will no longer have to force us to dig deeper in our coding techniques where we burn an hour or two just to complete a single command.
There are only three phases in Rapid Application Development: Planning of Requirements, Design Workshop and Implementation.
1. Planning of Requirements
In this stage, developers meet with the project coordinator or manager to create specific objectives from the desired program. Strategies for development and tools for development are also laid out in a specific project. For business organizations, this stage is important since the projected answer to business concerns will be laid out for the first time. Everything in this stage is theoretical but it will be working together with the clients or businesses that need a software to answer their business need.
2. RAD Design Workshop
When the plans have been laid out; it is time to start building on the plans. Using the agreed tools and interfaces, developers will start to create different programs based on the business need. RAD requires a lot of feedback as it also requires a lot of software iteration. Since RAD already has the set of tools to create the program, developers will only need to refine the user interface. As tools make it easier to create the actual prototypes, users will be able to work on a prototype. Feedbacks and suggestions are welcomed as this will be the bases on of the additional software processes and commands. Slowly developers and users can come up with one prototype that is almost ready for public use.
3. Implementation Phase
After further refinement, the software will finally be introduced to the business or to their intended users. Even though it has gone through hundreds or even thousands of testing and critique, the stage wherein the software is implemented in a larger scale is different hence new suggestions and bugs should be expected from different users. Developers have to remember these inputs and use it for the next software update. Developers have to be sure that the software update will be correct so that users will abandon the older version. This will prevent the system from malfunctioning since only one version is used.
The difference of Design Workshop to the Implementation Phase is not only in bugs but in software implementation. In Design Workshop, developers have to start from the bottom to impress the users. In the latter phase, developers will only have to work in software updates to ensure wider user acceptance.
When do we use RAD?
* Experienced programmers are members of the team
RAD is a fast paced SDLC. Developers will be using different tools in order to achieve the goal of building a software fast. Although it does not need much coding because of the given set of tools, only experienced programmers could work on these tools. If anything happens to the software, only experienced developers could dig deep into the problem even though they did not encode the program.
* Expediting application development
For whatever reasons, developers are hard pressed to build applications fast. Using sets of tools, different software could be created in no time. The participation of the users will be greater since they will work in double time to check if the software is up with the standards.
* Quick solution for a business problem
The tools used in developing software have steps or processes that could cater to any business need. If a business needs an answer to their nagging question of productivity and better reporting, RAD could create the software based on the business need. There are lots of software which already have the functions needed by any businesses.
* Objective Oriented and Highly Critical Users
Everything starts and ends with the objective. Users have to use the software to achieve the intended goal faster or easier. Different user interface and workflows are based on the realization of the objective. RAD makes the developers focus more on answering the need before creating something on their own. The set of tools could be used to answer the problem. Even the design of the user interface could be influenced by users.
Rapid Application Development or RAD takes the Prototype Model of SDLC further. Instead of using codes, developers use different tools and software development kits and bring them all together to create a software. Developers who are time challenged could use this application development. Businesses will also appreciate this software as it’s aimed to answer specific problems. Users’ feedbacks are important in this development cycle since they will suggest whether the program will fit to their specifications and needs.