What is Rapid Application Development? (RAD)

Application Development refers to the developing of programming applications and differs from programming itself in that it has a higher level of responsibility, including for requirement capturing and testing.

Rapid Application Development was a response to non-agile processes developed in the 1970s, such as the Waterfall model. The problem with previous methodologies was that applications took so long to build that requirements had changed before the system was complete, often resulting in unusable systems.

Starting with the ideas of Barry Boehm and Scott Shultz, James Martin developed the Rapid Application Development approach during the 1980s at IBM and finally formalised it by publishing a book in 1991.

Advantages and disadvantages

Rapid Application Development systems commonly have these advantages: increased speed of development and increased quality. The speed increases can be achieved using a variety of methods including, rapid prototyping, virtualization of system related routines, the use of CASE tools and other techniques. Quality, as defined by RAD, is both the degree to which a delivered application meets the needs of users as well as the degree to which a delivered system has low maintenance costs. RAD increases quality through the involvement of the user in the analysis and design stages. Some systems also deliver advantages of interoperability, extensibility, and portability.

Early RAD systems had two primary disadvantages: reduced Scalability, and reduced features. Reduced scalability occurs because a RAD developed application starts as a prototype and evolves into a finished application. Reduced features occur due to time boxing, where features are pushed to later versions in order to finish a release in a short amount of time.