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Rapid application development platforms

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The advantage of having development tools that deliver the application with minimal coding effort, negligible costs and rich experience is driving organizations towards adopting Rapid Application Development Platforms (RADP)

The advent of social, mobile and cloud has placed unparalleled demands on the delivery of business applications. According to an HBR study, one out of six projects has a cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of almost 70%. Meanwhile, another survey states that a huge 75% of the business and IT executives anticipate their software projects will fail. These statistics only confirm the challenges of conventional software development faced by enterprise IT and business users alike. Consequently, leading companies are evaluating modern Rapid Application Development (RAD) platforms to reduce these pain points and deliver a successful enterprise applications in a timely and cost-effective manner.

RAD tools provide developers with a way to create software efficiently, quickly and with minimal development budgets. The advantage of having development tools that deliver the application with minimal coding effort, negligible costs and rich experience is driving organizations towards adopting Rapid Application Development Platforms (RADP).

RAD and Digital Transformation go in sync. The demand for repurposing existing apps for new platforms – cloud, mobile and web – along with the need to deliver new apps to revolutionize business processes and support new products and services far outstrips the capacity of most IT departments to deliver. The kind of IT talent required for such tasks is just not available in the market. Survival depends on extending the reach and capability of the team you’ve already got. That’s where RAD comes into play. With a low-code development platform, one can extend the capability of the present developers and increase the speed and quality of the work they produce.

RAD is a relatively general term used to describe non-waterfall approaches for application development. This is generally categorized in four steps:

  • Outline – Teams to address the goals, discuss the scope of the projects while outlining the tools needed to achieve them.
  • Design – Discussing the look and feel of the applications. Wire-framing and prototyping tools may be necessary to build low-fidelity mock-ups or hi-fidelity prototypes.
  • Develop – Developers collaborate with each other to assign tasks, plan phases of development. After creating the infrastructure, committing code, an app is ready to deploy.
  • Test – Before an app is deployed & launched, it is time for user training and testing. After feedback is received, adjustments are made accordingly in preparation for a formal release.Advantages of RADP:
    Better quality: Having users interact with evolving prototypes, business functionality from a RAD project can often be much higher than that achieved by waterfall-model.Risk control: RAD approach can focus early on the key risk factors and adjust to these risks based on empirical evidence collected in the early part of the processMore projects completed on time and within budget: In the waterfall-model. it has been quite common to come to a realization of analysis and development after six months or more that required a radical rethinking of the entire system. With RAD this kind of information can be discovered and acted upon earlier in the process.Disadvantages of RADP:
    Risk of a new approach: For most IT service providers, RAD has been a new approach that required experienced professionals to rethink the way they have worked. Humans are virtually always averse to change and any project undertaken with new tools or methods will be more likely to fail the first time simply due to the requirement for the team to unlearn and relearn

    Requires time of scarce resources: One thing virtually all approaches to RAD have in common is that there is much more interaction throughout the entire life-cycle between users and developers. In the waterfall model, users would define requirements and then mostly go away as developers created the system.

    Less control: RAD is a flexible adaptable process. The idea is to be able to adapt quickly to both problems and opportunities. There is an inevitable trade-off between flexibility and control, more of one means less of the other.

    Poor design: System architecture issues are mostly ignored in conventional models that could result in a better overall design.

    Lack of scalability: RAD typically focuses on small to medium-sized project teams. The other issues cited above (less design and control) present special challenges when using a RAD approach for very large scale systems.

    Few widely used free-of-cost RADP tools are:
    Django: a relatively advanced application server that offers RAD

    Spring Boot: an open-source cloud platform used to develop Spring-based web apps. It minimizes configuration to develop product-ready apps quickly.

    Pivotal.io: similar to Spring Boot in that it is open source, cloud-based and aimed to develop applications quickly. It provides continuous delivery tools for DevOps teams.

    Apache ISIS: an open-source framework for developing domain-driven apps in Java. It provides tools to build and design user interfaces, object-based development, and integration of add-ons for increased functionality.

    ActiveTCL: A proprietary RAD tool that has a free community version. It provides tools to manage development cycles, find community support and build apps.
    While the range and overall effectiveness of any RADP varies from product to product, data from verified users can help potential buyers make informed decisions when they look for their next RAD tool.

    Device proliferation and consumerization of IT has led to rising end-user expectations from today’s apps. Enterprises have come to expect speed, agility and scalability at the lowest possible TCO (Total cost of ownership). Meanwhile, an explosion of APIs and front-end technologies has multiplied the technological burden on developers to deal with the abundance of front-end technologies and devices. Using Rapid Application Development, organizations can stay on top of these changes by delivering applications at the speed of business.

    Authored by Nandita Mathur is the Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Engineering at Q3 Technologies

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