20 May 2003 IBM has used its European Software Symposium in Munich this week to try and re-introduce a software technology which even it admits has not proved successful in the past — Rapid Application Development, or RAD.
The technology, pioneered and promoted more than twenty years ago by the software guru James Martin, enables developers who lack core software skills to build applications at a graphical level. But in spite of much hype and many products, the method has largely been discredited because the resulting applications often lack sophistication and are poorly designed.
IBM’s new product, Rational Rapid Developer, is the first to emerge from the Rational Software business unit since IBM completed the acquisition of the development tools company in February this year.
IBM is positioning Rapid Developer as an ‘ARAD’ tool – Architected RAD, a name designed to address the concerns that RAD applications in the past have often failed to follow core development guidelines. The Rational Rapid Developer can be used to build applications based on the J2EE architecture, without the need for the developer to understand Java programming.
“This enables developers to build applications that have a strong underlying architecture”, said Jim Cluchey, IBM vice president for Rational Software in Europe. He agreed that many RAD applications in the past had been built more like ‘doghouses in the yard’, when they really needed ‘the architectural approach used when building a skyscraper’.
IBM believes that continuing demand for new or re-engineered business applications, coupled with a growing need for more development specialists, means there will be strong demand for tools that less technical team members can use.
“Half of all future developers who will be asked to build applications won’t know Java,” said Roger Oberg, director of market management for Rational Software. However, he stressed that organizations building Java applications will still need Java skills. “Someone on the team will need to know Java. We are not advocating that people use this without other tools.”