THE RAD MODEL
Rapid application development (RAD) is an incremental software development process model that emphasizes an extremely short development cycle. The RAD model is a “high-speed” adaptation of the linear sequential model in which rapid development is achieved by using component-based construction. If requirements are well understood and project scope is constrained, the RAD process enables a development team to create a “fully functional system” within very short time periods (e.g., 60 to 90 days) [MAR91]. Used primarily for information systems applications, the RAD approach encompasses the following phases [KER94]:
Business modeling. The information flow among business functions is modeled in a way that answers the following questions: What information drives the business process? What information is generated? Who generates it? Where does the information go? Who processes it?
Data modeling. The information flow defined as part of the business modeling phase is refined into a set of data objects that are needed to support the business. The characteristics (called attributes) of each object are identified and the relationships between these objects defined.
Process modeling. The data objects defined in the data modeling phase are transformed to achieve the information flow necessary to implement a business function. Processing descriptions are created for adding, modifying, deleting, or retrieving a data object.
Application generation. RAD assumes the use of fourth generation techniques (Section 2.10). Rather than creating software using conventional third generation programming languages the RAD process works to reuse existing program components (when possible) or create reusable components (when necessary). In all cases, automated tools are used to facilitate construction of the software.
Testing and turnover. Since the RAD process emphasizes reuse, many of the program components have already been tested. This reduces overall testing time. However, new components must be tested and all interfaces must be fully exercised.
The RAD process model is illustrated in Figure 2.6. Obviously, the time constraints imposed on a RAD project demand “scalable scope” [KER94]. If a business application can be modularized in a way that enables each major function to be completed in less than three months (using the approach described previously), it is a candidate for RAD. Each major function can be addressed by a separate RAD team and then integrated to form a whole.
Like all process models, the RAD approach has drawbacks [BUT94]:
• For large but scalable projects, RAD requires sufficient human resources to create the right number of RAD teams.
• RAD requires developers and customers who are committed to the rapid-fire activities necessary to get a system complete in a much abbreviated time frame. If commitment is lacking from either constituency, RAD projects will fail.
• Not all types of applications are appropriate for RAD. If a system cannot be properly modularized, building the components necessary for RAD will be problematic. If high performance is an issue and performance is to be achieved through tuning the interfaces to system components, the RAD approach may not work.
• RAD is not appropriate when technical risks are high. This occurs when a new application makes heavy use of new technology or when the new software requires a high degree of interoperability with existing computer programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
SOFTWARE PROCESS MODELS - Incremental Model, Spiral Model, WINWIN Spiral Model, Concurrent Development Model