rapid mobile app development (RMAD)

What is rapid mobile application development (RMAD)?

Rapid mobile application development (RMAD) uses low-code/no-code programming tools to expedite the application creation process for mobile platforms.

RMAD is the mobile counterpart of rapid application development (RAD), a model based on the concept that high-quality products are developed quickly through early prototyping, reusable software components and informal team communications, among other expedient approaches.

How RMAD works

RMAD uses low-code/no-code tools that access cross-platform development of mobile applications across multiple devices' operating systems (OSes), such as iOS and Android.

With an RMAD platform, developers can create web, native and hybrid applications. A web application is accessed by a web browser over a network, while a native application is downloadable and made specifically for the OS and hardware of a target mobile device. A hybrid application has the inner workings of a web app but is installed and has similar functionality to a native app.

Web and hybrid applications are traditionally coded in JavaScript, HTML and CSS. Native applications are coded in whatever language the mobile device uses: Swift or Objective-C for iOS devices, or Java in Android devices. However, RMAD is a low-code/no-code process, so developers do not need to be fluent in various programming languages for mobile devices.

Low-code/no-code development platforms are integrated development environments (IDEs), so users can drag and drop in a graphical user interface (GUI) to build a cross-platform application with minimal coding knowledge.

RMAD teams specify the functions and features of an application based on the tools available to them on the front end, while the back end translates the specifications into code. RMAD tools use metadata, meaning that the functions of an application are summarized as basic information -- such as asset managers or UI elements in a database -- instead of coding the database in a programming language.

RMAD vendors differ in terms of the types of applications that their platforms can create. Additionally, certain products have scripting and drag-and-drop options to create custom UIs for mobile apps or users can follow templates to create the UI.

Back-end services underpin the RMAD tool and support front-end services. Cloud-based databases, APIs and offline data syncing are some examples of back-end systems typically used in RMAD tools.

Benefits of RMAD

RMAD platforms reduce the cost and complexity of developing an application, offer a good return on investment (ROI) because they're suitable for multiple projects and can even change the hiring requirements of a team:

  • Low-code/no-code IDEs hasten development time on a given application because they require less coding than via traditional development methodologies.
  • Organizations that rely on RMAD can hire app developers with little code experience.
  • Once an organization purchases an RMAD platform, they can repeatedly use that platform to develop applications.
  • RMAD development abstracts complicated services such as data synchronization, onboarding or networking. Standard industry technologies, such as NativeScript, JavaScript and JSON, are also abstracted.

Limitations of RMAD

While RMAD offers many advantages, it requires that the users adapt to the tool and not the other way around:

  • RMAD vendors restrict user options.
    • Each product is limited to the number of templates the vendor provides and how flexible the design is.
    • For example, an RMAD vendor may not provide support for making a specific type of application when it comes to the choice of web, native or hybrid applications.
  • RMAD vendors do not provide security tools.
  • Development teams need to plan how to manage numerous projects with different functions prior to development.

    How RMAD affects enterprise mobile app development

    Organizations have the option to use mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs), which predate RMAD. MEAPs such as SAP Mobile Platform support multiple device OSes and can be used in application development, deployment and maintenance. MEAPs are complex to maintain, and it is difficult to move from one MEAP to another.

    The process of creating applications for particular mobile devices takes experience in specific coding languages. With RMAD providing a low-code/no-code development platform, developers of varying experience can create, deploy and manage mobile applications.

    App developers can quickly build a complete product at minimal cost with RMAD tools, as compared to a MEAP. In some instances, developers can use an RMAD IDE for rapid prototyping. If a business wants to see if its app will be widely used, then developers can use an RMAD IDE to quickly construct a bare-bones application. Then, if the intended audience uses the app, it will undergo further development under a traditional coding paradigm.

    RMAD tools

    Some examples of RMAD platforms include MobileFrame and Alpha Software. These encompass both no- and low-code offerings. Other RMAD tool options are available as the space continues to evolve.

    MobileFrame is a no-code RMAD platform used to develop, test and deploy mobile applications. MobileFrame lets users design their own UI and is built specifically for the creation of enterprise mobile apps. This software also supports the creation of native and web applications.

    Alpha Software is a low-code RMAD platform for development and deployment of enterprise mobile applications. Alpha Software supports cross-platform mobile products via web apps. Applications are available offline and are connected to SQL and NoSQL databases.

    This was last updated in December 2022

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