Velocity in the demand for new applications and functionality increases as businesses grow. As a developer, you are expected to quickly respond to these needs. Over the years, desktop database and spreadsheet tools have allegedly contributed to data management due to the ease and user friendliness these applications extend to their audience. Beside benefits, these applications have scalability and functionality limitations that not only results in dozens of different applications and data sources but also adds extra overhead in their maintenance. Due to these issues, organizations are unable to continue their standard practices, leaving mission-critical data at risk. These fragmented systems may also cause loss of business opportunity. Finally, a significant amount of time and resource is required to put these data blocks together to get the desired information. In addition to above, the following points provide some more drawbacks of desktop applications:
- Installation of client software, such as Excel or run-time binaries, on every machine.
- Lack of data sharing with other applications.
- Simultaneous data access accessibility in spreadsheets.
- May not be the part of regular data backup.
- Critical and confidential data can easily be moved via email or pocket storage devices.
With the above shortcomings, it is clear that you need a tool that has the capability to cope with these shortfalls and extends the following features:
- Central management of data and applications.
- No installation of software is required on client machines; the only requirement is a supported browser.
- Shared development and application access.
- Being central, data and applications becomes a part of regular backup procedure.
- Data and application access control; empowered by audit trail.
If you want to develop and deploy fast and secure professional applications then you must go for a rapid application development (RAD) tool. A RAD tool only requires a web browser and a little programming experience. Beside ease of use and flexibility, RAD tool provides the qualities of an enterprise database, scalability, security, integrity, availability and above all the web development experience.
With a RAD tool you can develop any application through an easy declarative development process. However, you can use HTML and CSS to extend the presentation of your client interfaces and add your own code to supply additional logical operations. With such tools, you can build applications that report on database data. Create hyper text linked reports to easily link to other reports, charts, and data entry forms. Charts have built-in drill-down functionality, so that a user can get more detailed information on any of the sections of the chart with a simple mouse click. You can effectively communicate data using the charting engine by presenting SQL queries graphically. Use declarative form controls including shuttles, text editors, date pickers, checkboxes, radio groups, and select lists to manipulate data. Easily and instantly build opportunistic and departmental database applications with the help of simple wizards. This makes RAD tools a natural replacement for multi-user desktop database applications and allows creation of highly professional, secure, and scalable applications without scripting languages and complex frameworks.
RAD tools provide a hosted declarative development environment for developing and deploying database-centric web applications. They accelerate the application development process by providing built-in features such as user interface themes, navigational controls, form handlers, and flexible reports that off-loads the extra burden of profitability acquisition in the core technologies.
Declarative development is the most significant feature of any RAD tool which makes it a good choice for rapid application development. Most of the tasks are performed with the help of built-in wizards that help you create different application pages. Each wizard walks you through the process of clearing what you are expecting to achieve. After getting the input, the wizard data is stored as metadata in relevant back-end database tables. Later on, you can call page definition to modify or enhance the metadata to give your page the desired look. You can even add more functionalities by putting your own custom code. The back-end engine renders applications in real time using the metadata. When you create or extend an application, the metadata stored in database tables is created or modified. When the application is run, the metadata is referred to display the application.
Another hefty feature provided in the current RAD tools is the ability to create applications for mobile devices. Content to these devices are delivered through jQuery Mobile that is incorporated in these tools. To create mobile-based interface, specific themes are added to the collection that support mobile page transitions such as swipe, tap, and so on. These themes are provided with responsive design capability. With this design, content is adjusted according to different screen dimensions and provides the same user interface for desktop, tablet, and smartphones.
Rapid web application development is the need of the hour. Coupled with mobile development, this platform will definitely aid the over burdened business professionals, facing increasing time constraints, to increase their productivity by enabling them to work from anywhere at any time. These applications will make the busy community more effective as the features they carry allow people of high cadre to stay informed and take correct in-time decisions even sitting away from their desks.