Rapid application development

Rapid application development

Rapid application development (RAD) is a software development process, which involves iterative development and the construction of prototypes.


Rapid application development is a term originally used to describe a software development process introduced by James Martin in 1991. Martin's methodology involves iterative development and the construction of prototypes. More recently, the term and its acronym have come to be used in a broader, generic sense that encompasses a variety of techniques aimed at speeding application development, such as the use of web application frameworks and other types of software frameworks.

RAD approaches may entail compromises in functionality and performance in exchange for enabling faster development and facilitating application maintenance.


Rapid Application Development was a response to non-agile processes developed in the 1970s and 1980s, such as the Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method and other Waterfall models. One problem with previous methodologies was that applications took so long to build that requirements had changed before the system was complete, resulting in inadequate or even unusable systems. Another problem was the assumption that a methodical requirements analysis phase alone would identify all the critical requirements. Ample evidence attests to the fact that this is seldom the case, even for projects with highly experienced professionals at all levels.

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


Since rapid application development is an iterative and incremental process, it can lead to a succession of prototypes that never culminate in a satisfactory production application. Such failures may be avoided if the application development tools are robust, flexible, and put to proper use. This is addressed in methods such as the 2080 Development method or other post-agile variants

See also

* Agile software development
* List of Rapid Application Development tools


Further reading

*James Martin: "Rapid Application Development", Macmillan Coll Div, ISBN 0-02-376775-8
*Steve McConnell: "Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules", Microsoft Press Books, ISBN 978-1556159008

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