If the term rapid application development (RAD) were a Java method, it would have been deprecated long ago. As of the start of the new millennium, RAD had all but disappeared from the vocabulary of most software engineers.
Though the term is slipping from popular use as the hype surrounding RAD projects fades, the demand for rapid development is still as strong now as it was when RAD first emerged on the scene in the late 1980s. Despite tremendous advancements in the field of software engineering, telling statistics indicate the IT industry still struggles to realize the fast-paced demands of the business world.
So, what happened to RAD? If the requirement for RAD is as great now as it was 20 years ago, why is the term losing favor given the advent of Internet time and the accelerating pace of technological innovation?
The answer has more to do with marketing than software engineering. The concepts behind the various RAD methods are still valid, but the terminology has changed as the techniques and practices of RAD have evolved. Instead of talking of rapidity, we now speak in terms of agility.
Although the terminology of RAD is disappearing, its legacy is a set of mature software engineering practices. This chapter introduces the main elements to have come out of the RAD stable and puts them within the context of the practices and techniques this book presents for the purposes of rapid J2EE development. In particular, we focus on the benefits of prototyping, a technique now commonly associated with a fast-paced development approach.