The history of rapid application development is fascinating, validating its evolution into the most efficient and productive model for web and mobile app development.

Rapid Application Development(RAD) was devised in the 1980’s as a departure from the traditional waterfall approach that involved Structured Systems Analysis and Design Method. Despite often being termed as the Rapid Application Development Model, it is a far less rigid model in comparison and more an idea that software development should be approached with the sensibility of molding clay instead of steel.

Software development poses unique issues because it is transient and malleable. The traditional engineering approaches adopted to construct physical structures like houses and bridges is linear. One cannot begin to build a house and then change their minds in the midst of it. You cannot build the first floor and then decide to rebuild because it came out unsatisfactorily.

However, a software structure like the ones created on a RAD platform, by its very nature, can be altered. A RAD Platform takes advantage of exactly this by emphasizing on instant and rapid prototyping as opposed to exorbitant and inefficient planning.


Sometime in the last century, our society realized that software made lives easier. For software to be made, developers came into the picture. However, initial developmental models involved long months of strenuous planning. Developers had to work with end-users to define requirements in functionality, and then spend even more time laying them out, in extended spec sheets which were extremely rigid to later iterations.

This was followed by actual app development models. It progressed in cumbersome fashion, and developers could get first glimpses of the actual product after months, sometimes years. If changes had to be made, then software architects would have to go back to the drawing board. Unsurprisingly, the costs were formidably high.

In 1986, the earliest RAD Platform emerged in the form of the spiral model, described by Barry Boehm in his paper “A Spiral Model of Software Development and Enhancement". It emphasized on creating prototypes in place of investing in rigorous design specifications, a hallmark of easy rapid application development. In the 1980’s, James Martin built on the ideas of Boehm and others to create the RAD Platform at IBM. He formalized it in 1991 with a book named Rapid Application Development.

Both Boehm and Martin shaped the RAD Platform by tapping into the essential feature of software: infinite elasticity. Rapid Application Development Platforms take advantage of a software’s inherent flexibility to not simply accelerate app creation but improve it. RAD Platforms don’t just make apps faster, they make better apps.

James Kerr and Richard Hunter refined the RAD Platform in their book ‘Inside RAD: How to Build Fully Functional Computer Systems in 90 Days or Less’ which details the experiences of a RAD project manage using and to develop a RAD Platform in real-time on an actual project. In 2001, seventeen developers including Jeff Sutherland, Alistair Cockburn, and Ken Schwaber published the “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” which lay down 12 principles of software development. This helped to popularize the RAD Platform as a viable alternative to traditional software development life cycle approaches.

Author's Bio: 

Marketing Head At HokuApps. Leading enterprise Rapid Application Development Platform (RAD) environment which builds Fast & Error-Free software to transform businesses digitally.