The importance of Rapid Application Development tools for Custom Software Development

No two businesses are the same!  Market differentiation is the single most important factor in success and indeed survival of any business, big or small.  In a crowded free-enterprise market, a competitive advantage results from those business processes that help uniquely differentiate a business from other players.

Businesses spend substantial amounts of money on IT infrastructure and computer applications.  Some business processes such as word-processing can be handled by packaged software and still remain unique.   Others can make use of highly customisable off-the-shelf packages such as accounting software.  The exceptions are those unique processes that give any business its competitive advantage and are best served by custom-software development.

The recent Forrester DataByte: Spending On Custom Software in 2010 suggests that “On average IT shops will spend about 27% of their 2010 software budget on custom software development”.  This indicates a healthy recognition by the business community that, when it comes to processes that give them their competitive advantage, the process should define the software not the other way round.  In other words, ride the horse; do not let the horse take you for a ride!

There is little doubt of the benefits of custom software development and those who tell you otherwise usually have an ulterior motive (or are scared of horses and prefer to ride donkeys!).  In the beginning, investing in custom software was so expensive that it was simply out of the reach of most small and medium size businesses.  The arrival of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) initially made the undertaking even more expensive until the quantum leap in development tool technology, introduced by Visual Basic and followed by Delphi, the introduction of RAD tools.

The concept of Rapid Application Development (RAD) was first introduced in 1991.  Recognising the direct and linear correlation between the length of time spent on defining and developing custom software, and its ultimate cost, RAD sought to employ a combination of methods and technologies to reduce the total number of hours spent on taking custom software from idea to implementation.

Visual Basic and Delphi demonstrated the advantages of Rapid Application Development and at the same time helped reduce the cost of custom software development so much that even the smallest of business ventures could afford to develop custom software that leveraged their unique processes to give them a competitive advantage.

RAD brought new opportunities for small software houses and individual contractors in the custom software applications market.  Computer-savvy business practitioners from every industry recognised the demand for custom software, and with the aid of RAD tools, crossed over to computing for their livelihood.  The secret of their success, that is to say their “competitive advantage”, was an intimate knowledge of their respective industries and the major advantage of rapid prototyping made possible by the RAD tools.  Rapid prototyping not only improved the process of defining user requirements but also proved effective in increasing the chances of winning contracts for custom software development.

There is no doubt that a good portion of the projected 27% share of IT budgets earmarked for custom software development in 2010 will be spent on web business applications.  Developers who wish to bid for a slice of this budget must secure their competitive advantage early in the game and their choice of RAD tools will play an important role in this endeavour.

Enter Morfik, a powerful RAD tool for the web.  By deploying Ajax techniques and combining all that web developers need in a single fully Integrated Development Environment (Ajax IDE) Morfik empowers web application developers to employ Rapid Prototyping to win contracts and Rapid Application Development to deliver visually striking and functionally rich internet applications (RIA) in record time.

In a nutshell, what Visual Basic and Delphi did for the desktop, Morfik aims to do for the web.

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