Rapid Application Development (RAD)

What is the RAD Model?

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Rapid Application Development Model or RAD for short, is a “try before you buy” approach to software development. The theory is that end users can produce better feedback when examining a live system, as opposed to working strictly with documentation. RAD-based development cycles have resulted in a lower level of rejection when the application is placed into production, but this success most often comes at the expense of a dramatic overruns in project costs and schedule.

The RAD approach was made possible with significant advances in software development environments to allow rapid generation and change of screens and other user interface features. The end user is allowed to work with the screens online, as if in a production environment. This leaves little to the imagination, and a significant number of errors are caught using this process.

The down side to RAD is the propensity of the end user to force scope creep into the development effort. Since it seems so easy for the developer to produce the basic screen, it must be just as easy to add a widget or two. In most RAD lifecycle failures, the end users and developers were caught in an unending cycle of enhancements, with the users asking for more and more and the developers trying to satisfy them. The participants lost sight of the goal of producing a basic, useful system in favor of the siren song of glittering perfection.

For this reason, the software development team does not use a pure RAD approach, but instead blends limited prototyping in with requirements and design development during a conventional waterfall lifecycle. The prototypes developed are specifically focused on a subset of the application, and do not provide an integrated interface. The prototypes are used to validate requirements and design elements, and the development of additional requirements or the addition of user interface options not readily supported by the development environment is actively discouraged.

Advantages of RAD

  • RAD reduces the development time and reusability of components help to speed up development.
  • All functions are modularized so it is easy to work with.
  • For large projects RAD require highly skilled engineers in the team.

Disadvantages of RAD

  • Both end customer and developer should be committed to complete the system in a much abbreviated time frame.
  • If commitment is lacking RAD will fail.
  • RAD is based on Object Oriented approach and if it is difficult to modularize the project the RAD may not work well.

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