Rapid Application Development (RAD): A Complete Guide

Krunal Shah

May 06, 2022

9 min readLast Updated May 06, 2022

Rapid application development has emerged as one of the highly adopted development processes around the globe. As this application development process ensures fast and smooth application development and lets the developers meet the development goals more efficiently, it is often the first choice for the product developers.

No wonder the global rapid application development market is set to grow to $46.2 billion by 2023, as stated in a recent market report. But, what’s the reason behind its growing craze? Or, what is rapid application development in the first place? Well, in this blog we will guide you through all these in detail.


What Is Rapid Application Development?

Rapid application development or RAD is defined as a development model that is based on prototyping. It is a more adaptive application development approach that is based on an iterative model that requires very less or almost no specific planning. While in the 1970s and 1980s Waterfall model was more popular, with time developers became more inclined towards faster and more efficient application development methods.

And so, Rapid application development came into play. While the Rapid application development process was first invented by James Martin in 1991, it garnered wide popularity with time. One of the main advantages of using this application development method instead of the traditional Waterfall model is that it allows continuous integrations.

Also, the developers don’t always require to stick to the same schedule. No doubt that the Rapid application development process is getting increasingly popular among the ones who prefer Agile methods for application development.


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Rapid Application Development Methodology

Now that we have some basic ideas on Rapid application development, let’s discuss in detail the methodology. As discussed above, RAD is an Agile methodology that is widely adopted for software development. Here are the four main phases of Rapid application development technology as shown below.

1.  Requirements Outlining

Survey says that 78% of the businesses get out of sync with their project requirements, and Rapid application development can help them minimize such challenges. The first phase of the Rapid application methodology is requirements outlining, where all the members associated with the application development project such as the project manager, developers, testers, IT staff, and others discuss in detail to come up with the proper project planning. In this phase all the project-related scope, goals, expected features/solutions, constraints or challenges, and requirements are discussed in detail to make a proper and realistic plan for the application development.


2.  User Inputs

80% of the project developers claim to spend at least half of their time on rework. But opting for Rapid application development can save you from such hassles. User inputs play a vital role in the Rapid application development process to ensure that the required application functionalities are implemented.

In this phase, a group of users collaborates with the developers to help them design one or more prototypes. Such prototypes include the main system features to cover the main system requirements. This phase is very important as it determines how successful the final product will be. This phase is a continuous process where the users keep using the prototypes and keep giving feedback until the final one with the required features/solutions is developed.



3.  Rapid Construction

Once the user inputs phase is over, now comes the most vital stage - rapid construction of the application. As the name suggests, in this phase the developers convert the prototypes or Beta systems obtained from step 2 into a functional model.

As most of the iterative processes of taking inputs and implementing them are done in the previous phase, the development process becomes much faster. That’s why it’s called rapid construction. Not only the developers but testers and other programmers also need to work together in this phase to ensure quality application development. This phase consists of a few steps -

  • Preparation of Rapid Development: Developers and coders observe the prototype and plan rapid construction.

  • Application development: Developers build the product through rapid construction.

  • Testing: The testing phase is meant to test the application functionalities and find out errors/bugs if any. Generally, the testing phase of Rapid application development refers to unit testing, integration testing, and system testing.


4.  Finalization

After the construction phase is over, the developers and testers need to make the product completely ready to be launched in the market. One needs to focus on several factors such as interface, conversion, how the UX will be, and others in this stage.

Also, you must assess how well the product will fit the present market, its future goals, and other stability factors. User training falls under this phase as required based on your product.



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Advantages of Rapid Application Development

There are innumerable advantages of Rapid application development. Let’s have a look at the top of them.

Faster Product Delivery

No doubt that Rapid application development is one of the fastest development approaches for various products. Being iterative and based on user inputs at the prototyping level, RAD ensures faster product construction and delivery compared to the conventional development approaches. And this is why projects with strict deadlines often prefer this delivery approach over others.

Time & Resources Optimization

As discussed above, in Rapid application development technology, the required changes are done in an iterative process even before the final implementation starts. As a result, the developers don’t need to make changes during the main development process or after the product development phase. As the rapid implementation takes place once the prototype is confirmed, this application development process helps in optimizing the time and resources for the development process.


Better Quality Product

The Rapid application development process ensures that the product functionalities are proper and the required features/solutions are obtained. As this method allows continuous integrations based on user inputs, the developers can build better quality products easily.


Lower Maintenance Cost

Unlike the traditional development approach, Rapid application development doesn’t require that much planning, testing, and lengthy building process or up-gradation process to maintain the product. Due to its hassle-free approach, the product maintenance cost is lower in this case.


Better Adoption of New Technologies

For a traditional Waterfall project, if you need to add any new technology, then there is very less scope to adopt it successfully. But Rapid application development offers the flexibility to adopt any new technology easily as and when required.



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Disadvantages of Rapid Application Development

There are a few disadvantages of Rapid application development as well as mentioned below.


Not a Good Fit for Small Projects

The rapid application development process is mainly meant for projects of moderate to large sizes. As it works in an iterative approach to reduce the development time for the final product, this application development process is highly sought-after for large projects. Due to the same reason, this approach is not very beneficial for smaller projects.


Not Suitable for High Technical Risks

If there are high risks associated with any technical method, framework, or others, then Rapid application development may not work that well. It is meant to optimize the project time and not to minimize the associated risks. And hence, it is advisable to not apply it to projects with higher technical risks.


Require Highly Skilled Coders

While the Rapid application development process is famous for its exclusive perks, one needs to hire experienced professionals to implement it and make the best out of it. Be it prototype creations, or incorporating user inputs through iterative processes - only skillful developers can utilize this approach properly. Or else, you may end up wasting your time, effort, or resources for nothing.



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What Is the Rapid Application Development Lifecycle?

The rapid application development process has its lifecycle and associated stages. While developers often consider its lifecycle as another version of the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), there are some basic differences. Let’s have a look at the Rapid application development lifecycle stages.

Planning: This is the first stage of the RAD life cycle, where you need to do detailed planning on the project scope, product goals, features, solutions, functionalities, and the associated roadmap.

Analysis: This refers to a thorough analysis of the project, requirements, resources, development stages, and other related factors.

Design: In this stage of the Rapid application development, a rough outline or flow diagram is made regarding the overall product design, screen layout, workflow, program rules, methods, and others.

Implementation: This refers to rapid product building/development. This is often considered a crucial stage of the Rapid application development lifecycle.

Testing: In this stage of the Rapid application development, the product is tested on different levels to point out and fix the bugs if any.

Evaluation/Maintenance: Once the product is tested, it is evaluated to ensure proper functionalities. It is also maintained, upgraded, and tested regularly as and when required to keep it up-to-date and fully functional.

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When Should You Take Rapid Application Development Approach?

While one can use the Rapid application development approach for diverse products, it is imperative to know its proper use cases to utilize it in the right way. For instance, big projects with higher complexities can be built using this application development technology. As it works in a prototype-based iterative approach, it simplifies the development process by implementing the changes before the original development phase.

Also, projects with tight deadlines can opt for this application development approach to ensure there is no additional investment to test, change or implement new product functionalities. Furthermore, if you want to optimize the resources and time to be invested in a project, then this application development technology helps cater to your goals. However, if you want your application development project to be aligned with the business goals, then you must opt for this application development method.



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What Is the Cost of Rapid Application Development Process?

As you already know, the Rapid application development process significantly reduces the project time, and resources taken and improve the quality of the application being developed. But at the same time, you need proper expertise to get these benefits. Either you need real-time professional and practical experience in this field, or it is better to opt for expert development companies or product developers.


You can even hire freelance developers, but for that, you will need a thorough check of their past proven work experience. The cost also depends on the regions from where you are choosing your developers. While the services are available across the continents, Asia Pacific is considered to be the most affordable to hire your developers. The overall cost depends on the project and team size, RAD tools you opt for, product features, and other specific factors.

When Should You Take Rapid Application Development Approach?

While one can use the Rapid application development approach for diverse products, it is imperative to know its proper use cases to utilize it in the right way. For instance, big projects with higher complexities can be built using this application development technology. As it works in a prototype-based iterative approach, it simplifies the development process by implementing the changes before the original development phase.

Also, projects with tight deadlines can opt for this application development approach to ensure there is no additional investment to test, change or implement new product functionalities. Furthermore, if you want to optimize the resources and time to be invested in a project, then this application development technology helps cater to your goals. However, if you want your application development project to be aligned with the business goals, then you must opt for this application development method.



See More: MongoDB vs MySQL: A Comparative Guide on Databases

Takeaway

With the growing adoption of Rapid application development technology, choosing the right service providers has become even trickier. As there is a myriad of application development services available in the market, it is tough to say which one will deliver you exactly what your product goals are. However, the above guide will help you understand the process better and hence will let you make the right decision.


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