Do you have an idea for a new application, platform or service? You can deliver it quickly and in agile way to the market, while maintaining a high level of quality and full functionality of the solution. Check the Rapid Application Development tools and ready-made components that will help you improve the creation of your IT product and reduce business risk.
From the article you will learn about:
- the validity of the Rapid Application Development methodology,
- the reasons why companies use RAD tools,
- examples of the most interesting and ready-to-use components,
- the idea of iterations, semi-products and Scrum,
- the benefits of using Rapid Application Development in business.
It is worth doing your best and undertaking your own ideas or ventures. Through the existence of so many inspiring people or events, it is more and more common that we begin to think about new solutions, in our minds, interesting and sometimes innovative ideas for new business applications, platforms or services appear in a spontaneous way. What counts the most then? Fast and responsible reaction! Why fast? Because every second counts when it comes to using the potential in the niche and entering the market. And why responsible? Customers expect only refined and fully functional solutions that can be considered attractive and trustworthy. So what should you do to start working actively on developing your idea, but be careful and reduce the risk of cost and time overheads or possible business failures? Certainly you should consider implementing Rapid Application Development as part of IT project management.
Prototyping and ready-made components in RAD
There is a belief that there is little chance of dynamically obtaining an IT product in the form of a mobile, web or any other type of application that will be exceptionally competitive and which will meet all users' requirements… Thanks to the Rapid Application Development methodology and thanks to numerous practices and tools within it, you can easily do this by using all the business potential hidden in the idea. The methodology and numerous tools used in RAD were created due to the strong need to quickly deliver software to the consumers. First of all, the main role in Rapid Development of Application is played by: dynamic and repeatable prototyping and application testing; introducing further, necessary modifications in order to develop an innovative solution in line with the expectations of the users.
As part of the rapid product development, the project team can use not only the application prototyping, but also a set of ready-made components. Ready components or microservices are, as the name says, ready-made elements that can be implemented in the IT solution being created. Each of these elements can be seen as a small, single-function application, having its own architecture, and even a database that is developed independently to the others. Thanks to this structure, microservices are much easier to understand, develop and, at a later stage, maintain. They are an attractive counter to extensive monolithic applications, in which every change is a huge challenge, leaving a technical debt that slows down the work within project. Microservices are able to effectively reduce the above mentioned debt, which can take a variety of forms, starting from illegible or duplicate code, lack of test environment, lack of automated tests and ending with the use of ineffective tools by the project or software development team. Ready-to-use components ensure good scalability of the created application, because they can be freely combined, and recombined. What's more, they guarantee the occurrence of the Continuous Deployment process, in this case automatic download of a given version of the application and its implementation to the created test environments, where tests and quality controls take place. Ready components can easily be adapted to the specifics of business and to the project requirements provided. They are all about faster development of the application and obtaining visible effects already in the early stages of the software development life cycle.
Popular microservices to be used in a new IT project
Developers are eager to reach microservices to speed up their work and to use the quality-verified elements. They do not have to write code from scratch, they only need to know places on the Internet where they can find microservices. Here are 12 recommended microservices that can be implemented to the project just like that:
1) Authentication and Authorization Service.
Microservice, which enables the management of users, e.g. the process of registering them, assigning roles or giving tasks that can be performed by them. This component can be integrated with external users' identity providers (including Open ID, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook).
2) Asset Service.
Component that allows you to manage digital resources. Resources can be in the form of images, business documents or PDF files and other. The whole process within the component consists in performing transformational operations on the previously mentioned digital resources, such as: changing the image resolution, modifying the applied color palette or converting the file format. In addition, microservice can extract metadata from resources and for example isolate text from images, files or office documents.
3) Search Service.
Microservice, which provides a quick search function. It allows you to track specific information in many data sources (ie in directories, Asset Service, CMS, blogs, etc.) at the same time.
4) Snapshot Service.
Mikroserwis based on versioning process to literally all data. It can be used regardless of whether you want to save historical data about transactions made, changes made to product information or downloads done.
5) Catalogue Service.
This service with good effect simplifies the work within the data contained in catalogs. It is thanks to the mechanisms in the form of multichannel hierarchies, attribute inheritance and hierarchy tree traversing.
6) Content Service.
An interesting component acting as a simple content management system. It is considered to be a mechanism for quickly creating templates that supports engines such as Groovy, Freemarker or JasperReports.
7) Consent Service.
As the name suggests, it is a component that supports the process of managing user consents. This is a very important aspect for all businesses that process personal data of residents of the European Union, considering General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR. Activities should be in line with the guidelines of the Regulation, and Consent Service reduces the risk of information chaos, incorrect collection or processing of entrusted data.
8) Web/Mobile Content Service.
As part of this ready-made component, the process of dynamic adaptation of the web or mobile application takes place, based on the information taken directly from the content management system. Thanks to this, all modifications made in the application are run with success and - what is important - the necessity to update the application in the AppStore/Google Play or re-deploy it to the server disappears.
The component focuses on sending push notifications to the dynamic list of users in the form of text messages, e.g. e-mails, posts shared via social media. The dynamic list is supplemented with data of people who, for example: became interested in a specific, promoted service or product; who eagerly downloaded the e-book or whitepaper; who are located close to the location of the company offering its range of products and services.
10) Personally Identifiable Information Service.
Central management system, necessary in the era of privacy of users, GDPR and other regulations. This service is based on such mechanisms as multi-storage separation, tokenization, pseudonymisation, anonymisation or encryption. The component increases the security of stored personal data of users and prevents data from being dispersed.
Microservice allowing mass customization of web or mobile application. What's more, this component provides the function of communication with users thanks to integration with the Broadcasting-Service. When you have a company and clients, it is worth knowing who is a direct and permanent consumer of services/products and what are consumer preferences (explicit and implicit preferences that have been identified thanks to Data Science mechanisms).
12) ELK web/mobile clients.
Activities under this component include the integration of the application (web, mobile or server) with the ELK technology stack that aggregates logs, and also allows you to dynamically change the level of login to the application. This can be extremely useful especially when analyzing production incidents.
Is it worth using iterations, ready-made components, Scrum strategy?
For "fast application delivery", iterations are applied. In a nutshell, iterations in programming rely on software development in short cycles, in which it is subject to continuous improvement. This ensures a high level of control over the workflow and high flexibility, as changes can be made at any time. In addition, thanks to actions in the field of Behavior Driven Delivery, e.g. market research, group interviews/individual interviews, surveys, consumer tests conducted on the target group (so-called early adopters), you can get valuable feedback (e.g. about design, available functionalities, level of usability or intuitiveness) and on their basis make further decisions regarding the direction of application development.
Another measure within the rapid product development is - as has already been described - the use of semi-products and other RAD tools. These are mainly elements that can be given the status: "repeatedly tested and verified". Undoubtedly they deserve this status, because these semi-products have been tested in various conditions in the past and used willingly in IT projects. Such ready-made components include, for example, a login/registration module, account management service, user consent management, digital resource management or product data management system. Thanks to the use of semi-finished products, the entire work can run smoothly, and the risk of incurring unnecessary investment or cost-time overheads is reduced.
Very popular is the agile management in project, especially individual projects within company. We're talking here about using the Scrum methodology. Each concept needs time to clarify its basic assumptions and to be able to fully develop. However, wondering forever about the rightness of a given IT project in the current, violent market is extremely ineffective and even slightly detrimental to the project owner. By moving away from activities based on extensive strategies, you can quickly shape any idea. The project will surely respond to the expectations of users thanks to the introduction of Customer Development activity and examining the opinion of the target group. In addition, the gradual acquisition of knowledge about the project and continuous control over sustainable development is extremely simple since A/B testing is used. A/B tests consist in comparing two versions of a given solution in order to choose a version that better meets the set of requirements or performs tasks in a better way. If there are any doubts as to the choice of the IT product version, we can always test the prototype again, add further modifications, until you are fully satisfied with the results.
What are the benefits of Rapid Application Development?
It is not worth creating complex and monolithic systems that require sacrificing long months or years before they go public. The Rapid Application Development methodology has thus become a global project standard, thanks to which IT teams are able to deliver refined parts of the application in a few days or weeks. The most frequent advantages in running RAD processes are:
- reduction of the risk of incurring unnecessary costs. The correctness of planned solutions can be checked by creating their prototypes in the form of Minimum Viable Product, MVP. Thanks to them, there is a chance to verify the functionality of the application at an early stage of its existence. In this way, at a low cost, you can improve the system so that it responds best to user and market needs (Product-Market Fit, PMF),
- efficient implementation of improvements to the project. RAD gives the possibility of making flexible changes throughout the whole development process of the application,
- reduced number of errors due to the use of tested components. Microservices were repeatedly used in other projects in the past, therefore their defects or imperfections could be noticed and then eliminated,
- lower development and application maintenance costs. The use of components effectively reduces the costs of the project, and in the case of willingness to implement improvements to the system, the process may occur at the level of microservices with the possibility of a smooth moving to the overall level,
- quicker Time To Market (TTM). By using the previously mentioned RAD tools, the application can get to the first users much faster,
- high quality of the developed application. As a result of performed tests, surveys or completed iterations, an IT product in an adequate manner can respond to identified market needs. In the case of application development, there is a significant improvement in its quality and in the range of available functionalities,
- the application development process is characterized by full involvement of the client and the end user. System development can be based on workshops with the client and the user, within which the expectations and needs of both parties are defined. Thanks to this, the end product can be satisfying, useful, intuitive, aesthetic and business compatible.
The RAD methodology is nothing new and more and more companies decide to create products according to its guidelines. Companies are more willing to use methods include the latest trends in software development just like the one that was discussed in the article. The Rapid Application Development methodology is the resignation from extensive plans, resulting in an uncertain effect and the first step to agile management. If you want to introduce RAD into your business, contact the IT company or the Technology Partner to get dedicated support.