Rapid application development (RAD) is taking the software and application development world by storm. The increased speed of development, flexibility to accommodate client requests during the development cycle, cost-effectiveness, and higher customer satisfaction offered by RAD are swiftly making it the new standard for application development.
Many tools support the rapid application development framework. If you are looking to employ rapid application development tools or RAD tools for your development needs, here is a detailed guide on rapid application tools and everything you need to know about them.
What Are Rapid Application Development Tools?
Rapid application development tools include toolkits, applications, frameworks, or software that aid in developing web or mobile applications. To qualify as an effective rapid application development tool;
- The rapid application development tool should have reusable templates that are relevant to your needs.
- It should have the ability to develop cross-platform apps.
- Even non-IT personnel should understand how to create basic apps using the best rapid web application development tools with ease.
Citizen developers are an asset to any organization, and the tool should aid them.
- It should help you track the development lifecycle of the app. You should know which iteration you are at currently and what happened in the previous iterations.
- The tool should let you drag and drop elements.
- The cost of the RAD tools should be feasible and viable for the team.
The Best Rapid Application Development Tools
With the plethora of rapid application development tools in the market, selecting one that meets all your needs can seem like an uphill task. Here is a list of the best rapid web application development tools you can find:
Decision.io lets you create and manage workflows with a click of a button. You can manage the workflow from your browser. The flexible platform is ideal for businesses, startups, incubators, educational institutions, and foundations. Here are some of the features that make it one of the best rapid web application development tools.
- It is a cloud-based, secure platform that lets you work from anywhere.
- It enables the import and export of data in .csv format with ease.
- You can automate repetitive tasks to reduce the amount of manual work and increase efficiency.
- It offers complete transparency within the organization.
- You can integrate with Wufoo and MailChimp to get a seamless experience.
- Highly customizable
- Easy to use
- Not very scalable
- Limited applications
Kissflow is among the few rapid application development tools that allow people of all backgrounds to indulge in RAD without using any core IT resources. Some features of Kissflow are as follows –
- Kissflow requires minimal knowledge of coding.
- It contains an intuitive user interface that makes rapid application development both easier and faster.
- It allows you to automate integral business processes in your pipeline and is integrable with a host of business suites such as Slack, GSuite, and Salesforce, and other apps with open APIs and webhooks.
- Kissflow provides you with automated insights into the performance of your software, based on which you can optimize it even before going through the testing process.
- Streamlined approvals
- Exports are difficult
- Not very user-friendly in terms of help and support
- Can be prone to bugs
SetApp is a suite of applications built exclusively for Mac systems. Among the many apps that it provides, there exist several great rapid application development tools. These RAD tools are completely integrable with each other, and each tool fulfills a specific function of the rapid application development process, such as the following:
- The DevUtils app provides developers with essential utilities such as formatting and debugging tools.
- The Flinto app allows you to design mobile app prototypes without any coding input.
- RapidWeaver allows for the development of a website using a simple layout and tools.
- Dash allows you to access API documentation even when you are not on the internet.
- Sizzy is among the best apps available on Mac for the testing of web applications.
- Easy to install and set up
- A large number of apps at a low price
- Price doesn’t change regardless of whether you use one of many apps
- It doesn’t contain all market apps
Spring Boot might not belong as much in the domain of rapid application development tools as it does in rapid application development application frameworks, but that doesn’t stop it from being extremely effective.
Spring Boot is one of the most widely used frameworks when it comes to Java-based web applications. It is primarily an extension of the Spring rapid application development framework and contains a vast number of improvements.
- As compared to Spring, the Spring Boot framework contributes to an enhanced simplicity in the application development process through the use of an embedded server.
- It features opinionated starter dependencies, which make the application and build configuration easier.
- You can build web applications on top of the Java EE platform.
- Embedded HTTP servers
- Active admin support
- Flexibility in configuration
- Not recommended if you are new to Spring
- Non completely code-free
Quickbase is among the rapid application development tools that do not require any coding experience for development. The following features may be attributed to Quickbase:
- It has a simple WYSIWYG type editor that allows you to build the most complex of applications.
- The user interface of Quick Base allows you to drag and drop integral elements into the app, and other tools give you the chance to vastly customize the interface of the app itself.
- You can build web apps or mobile apps that also can model workflows and processes.
- It supports enterprise-grade security and governance features and offers swift testing capabilities.
- Use cases include Process Improvement, Human Resources, CRM and Sales Management, Field Services, and Supply Chain Management.
- Active customer support team
- Intuitive and easy to understand
- Flexible and cost-effective
- It is not completely Secure
- Complex filtering methods
Quixy contains several rapid application development tools that can be integral in expediting the rapid application development process. It has the following features:
- It offers BPM and flow management capabilities.
- It has an easy-to-use user interface and workflow designer that requires minimal coding experience to use.
- It is compatible with data tables for advanced control and contains a built-in simulator that can help you test the developed applications.
- It offers multi-channel support and its applications extend across domains, from freight management to invoice management.
- It allows you to add unlimited steps to a workflow and also has various ready-to-use templates that save you from starting application development from scratch.
- It works great for fields such as applicant tracking, leave management, project and task management, and travel and expense management.
- It contains a rules engine that allows you to add or delete specific rules and control the rapid application development process.
- Through the continuous deployment approach, it eliminates the downtime that users experience when an app is under maintenance.
- Completely code-less and easy to use
- Highly customizable
- Supports significant integration among platforms
- Not the easiest platform for beginners
- No in-app collaboration
- No app templates
Buddy counts among the rapid application development tools that are meant specifically for iOS development. The foundational approach of Buddy is continuous-integration and continuous-deployment. Using CI and CD, Buddy delivers a platform that reduces lag time and allows you to develop applications and deliver them within minutes.
- It secures your build environment, builds iOS apps, runs unit testing on the newly developed application, and prepares your application for further testing – all in a single step.
- After your application has been tested, it will also provide you with a detailed feedback report, and if your app has crashed, it will provide you with crash reports that tell you exactly which line of code caused it to fail.
- It is integrable with services such as GitHub, Slack, Apple Developer, Pivotal Tracker, HipChat, Trello, and Jira.
- Intuitive GUI
- Powerful automation capabilities
- Simple setup
- Web interface needs updates
- Integration can be slow
- Not the most economical
Among rapid application development tools, Microsoft PowerApps with Microsoft Azure is an option much preferred by both professional and novice developers across the world. It is primarily because of the immense amount of customization that Microsoft PowerApps provides you with.
- Microsoft PowerApps is seamlessly integrable with your Microsoft Account and Office365.
- Microsoft PowerApps also provides all its users access to over 350 data sources and also the capacity to build a custom connector.
- All SQL tools and queries that you prefer to work with can be enabled in Microsoft PowerApps.
- It also gives you the capacity to bring legacy systems to life using Robotic Process Automation.
- SharePoint delegation limitations
- High load time with custom connectors
- Apps not accessible with a non-Microsoft account
Salesforce Lightning is undoubtedly among the most intelligent rapid application development tools in the market. Salesforce Lightning provides you with access to effective utilities that can make your rapid application development process much faster and more productive.
- It also contains an assistant tool that can guide you through every step of the process.
- It contains a feature known as Lightning Voice, through which you can conduct voice calls over the Salesforce cloud.
- It is integrated with the Outlook platform of Microsoft, facilitating its use for professional purposes.
- The Application Builder on Salesforce Lightning is completely cloud-based and can be accessed across systems simply by signing into your Salesforce or Outlook account.
- Utilities on Salesforce Lightning are available through the AppExchange platform, which contains over 150 apps.
- Wide integration
- High customizability
- Customer profiles
- High bug concentration
- Hard to use for non-experienced users
- Hard to sync with third-party applications
Alpha Anywhere claims to be the only one among the rapid application development tools available in the market to contain separate non-code and low-code platforms, with the following features –
- Alpha Anywhere offers seamless data integration, allowing you to leverage the services of Rest and connect both SQL and non-SQL databases.
- It facilitates the creation of forms for both web and mobile applications.
- It provides enterprise-class protection and administrative control to the user
- It allows you to build hybrid apps through cross-platform development, using both HTML5 and Phonegap Build.
- Post testing, Alpha Anywhere provides rich data analytics as well as insights and allows you to create custom charts to interpret exactly the data that you need.
- True offline capability
- Cross-platform application
- Backend support for most popular SQL frameworks
- The user interface could be more user friendly
- Outdated templates
- Not codeless for advanced applications
Nintex is primarily a process management software that can provide effective rapid application development tools. It allows you to automate ineffective and time-consuming manual processes in your organization through a set of easy-to-use tools and implements. The following features make Nintex special among rapid application development tools.
- You can create forms both on the web as well as mobile to collect data from your workforce in no time.
- It provides RAD tools such as workflow bots and robotic process automation tools that automate repetitive work that you otherwise might require manual intervention to carry out.
- It can generate document replicas automatically and enable e-signatures on them.
- It has the capability and tools to monitor their progress in real-time and analyze the results
- Solutions provided by Nintex have been used in the finance, public, health, and manufacturing domains for departments ranging from operations to human resources.
- Smooth integration with third-party applications
- Wide application
- Great visualization capabilities
- Not the most flexible of customizable workflow
- Outdated UI
- Highly dependent on SharePoint
Oracle Application Express primarily aims to provide you with rapid application development tools to make the monitoring and analysis of data in your organization easier –
- The universal theme user interface on Oracle Application Express is easily accessible on both the web and mobile platform.
- The applications that you build for your workforce are easily customizable and deployable in real-time without any lag.
- It contains several security features, including integrability with the user repository of your company.
- It is also compatible with custom schemes SQL or PL/SQL written for authentication and authorization.
- Oracle Application Express also contains parameter tampering protection for URLs and cross-site scripting prevention capabilities.
- Simple user interface
- Codeless for basic applications
- Easy testing capability
- Hard to integrate with other databases
- Version control is difficult to use
- Limited themes and templates
RapidClipse is among the most effective rapid application development tools available if you are looking for cross-platform applications. The features of RapidClipse are –
- Applications can be developed for a host of different web and mobile platforms using the same base code.
- The RAD tool is based on the Web Components (W3C) standard, which offers better responsive behavior and improves the overall performance of the tool.
- Through the choice of Vaadin, RapidClipse has ensured that the front end of your application can be written in the same language and that client-server communication is fully automated.
- The tool also allows for customized styling using CSS and generates well-structured code for XML and Java.
- RapidClipse contains optimized Hibernate tools that contain a JPA-SQL query editor as well as error-free data type mapping.
- You do not need to use Java EE for automated lifecycle management or transactions if you are using RapidClipse.
- The framework has features such as lazy-loading, navigation, and data access layers, a generic filter API, and UI persistence.
- Cross-platform applicability
- Completely automated client-server
- Type-mapping for all database management systems
- Not the most scalable
- Not fully code-free
- Vaadin can be prone to bugs
EASA offers the capability to create and deliver custom apps via rapid application development. Through EASA, you can carry out engineering and pharmaceutical simulations, which are a truly rare utility.
- EASA helps you deploy Excel sheets as custom web applications.
- EASA offers complete integrability with the pricing tools of Salesforce.
- The applications created using EASA can be customized as per the requirements of your clients and also be thoroughly tested.
- Highly code independent
- Flexible configuration
- Excel integration
- Non-intuitive UI
- Multiple server dependency
- Debugging is not easy
FileMaker is among the most cost-effective rapid application development tools available. It facilitates the creation of custom applications and databases within minutes, with near-immediate deployability. The features of FileMaker are –
- It gives you the choice of hundreds of different tools, apps, and widgets that you can integrate into your app.
- It also allows for cross-platform functionality, and since the creation of the app does not require any code, the same app can be deployed to a host of different platforms and devices.
- It is completely connected to the cloud and offers industry-standard security features to keep your apps protected.
- It has previously been utilized for project management, invoice management, content library creation, field research, supply management, and other similar domains.
- This tool allows you to use scripts, relational data modeling, calculation functions, and widgets to build scalable apps.
- Simple setup and local deployment
- Choice of plugins
- Highly visual solutions
- Not flexible
- Limited source control
- Plugins can be expensive
Cloud Foundry is among the best open source rapid application development tools, and while it is based on code, it is still fluid to use.
- It allows you to rapidly deploy your apps, or updates to them, without any lag time.
- It offers support to all the major programming languages that you can use for development, and as they are open-source, can be easily extended to others as well.
- It offers vastly scalable rapid application development tools due to its wide compatibility.
- For developers who prefer to build on top of Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry can prove to be an effective solution.
- When packaged for Kubernetes, Cloud Foundry is available as KubeCF.
- It can be integrated with the tools that you are currently using, including their CI/CD, and integrated development environments.
- It also has services such as the Open Service Broker API project, which offers workloads for ISVs, SaaS providers, and developers, effectively backing services.
- Great open-source integration
- Sophisticated integration capabilities
- Broad language support
- Non-intuitive UI
- No container compatibility
- No testing metrics or reports
For any citizen developer, with or without coding knowledge, looking to create a mobile or web application, rapid application development tools mentioned above are the way to go. Regardless of the app that you want to create, one of these RAD tools can help you create it.
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