Rapid Application Development (RAD), also termed low-code development, is a visual approach to creating apps that enable greater developer efficiency. However, what started as technology to help the masses address the speed of basic development has since matured so RAD definition is changing.
RAD platforms started out as tools for citizen developers without substantial technical knowledge of coding, who could use intuitive “out of the box” features to create applications suited for simple departmental and experimental needs. While these early RAD platforms (not this “rad”) brought basic coding capabilities to the masses, the applications created were short-lived and unable to evolve and scale with changing business needs. To address this gap in enterprise IT, RAD technology transformed to meet the needs of developers looking to efficiently undertake more sophisticated legacy app modernization projects, end-user customer experience updates, and long-term digital transformations.
Gone are the days of non-responsive front-end technology, cumbersome integration approaches, and non-standards-based widget and page development. The RAD platforms of today are far more nimble – they’re capable of leveraging millions of APIs and the most advanced open-standards-based technology stacks while maintaining enterprise-grade security and end user experience. As a result, IT teams can tap into these functionalities to execute large-scale digital transformation and modernization projects faster than ever before. The technology enables a higher degree of coding intermixed with visual development, facilitating the creation of long-standing and flexible enterprise-grade applications (see Figure 1).
While there’s no question that low-code platforms have transformed over time to become the advanced, high-impact digital tools of today, the enterprise IT environment continues to evolve as user expectations and preferences shift over time. This dynamic begs the following question: where is RAD headed next?
The future of RAD platforms
Increased usage – As technology further matures and encompasses professional developers’ needs, RAD technology will become the de-facto productivity platform for professional developers executing long-lasting enterprise IT modernization and digital transformation projects.
Enhanced enterprise-grade applications – Over time, professional developers will continue to push the boundaries of RAD as they bring best practices in app development, deployment, and DevOps from their vast experiences into every stage of the application lifecycle. Enhancements will span a range of capabilities, including cloud deployment, real-time integration, and increased developer collaboration.
A central hub for app development via integrations – With increasing API adoption and service consumption, RAD platforms will continue to become the central hub for application development via lightweight integrations to external services. The integration model will redefine the user experience and will serve a specific use case. Examples of such integrations include RPA, BPM, cloud services, SaaS services, IoT, AI, analytics, etc.
Emphasized digital experiences – The customer/user experience will only grow more important as enterprises compete digitally. As a result, RAD platforms will increasingly cater to building highly user-centric digital experiences with clear customer touchpoints.
Long-lived applications – With serious professional enterprise application developers using flexible RAD processes, the future will hold increased development of mainstream business applications that prevail for many years (long-lived applications) and continually serve organizational needs.
RAD platforms have come a long way since their inception, and time will tell exactly how citizen and professional developers will leverage this approach in the future. Regardless, the IT community can count on the fact that as enterprises’ digital needs continue to develop, RAD platforms will continue to be a high-impact tool for modernizing years of legacy applications and creating digitally agile business infrastructures.
Originally published by Vijay Pullur, CEO WaveMaker, in App Developer Magazine.