The lowdown on RAD

What are they?

Rapid application development tools are programs that quickly assemble applications from components, database connections and generated code for deployment on a Web server or Web application server.

Why RAD and not just normal development tools?

RAD tools are oriented toward users without a great deal of software development training or experience. They are often used by people assembling applications from low-level components built by more skilled developers, or by Web designers plugging application components into their pages.

What do they cost?

Depending on the approach, from $500 per license to as much as $25,000 per seat for more automated application development tools.

Must-know info?

Depending on what you want to do with your Web applications, you'll need some sort of application server or Common Gateway Interface technology to access relational databases or other data storage technology. Some RAD tools are built to work with a specific application server or a small set of application servers; Microsoft's Visual Studio tools typically can deploy only applications to run on Microsoft Windows NT, Win 2000 or Win XP servers, for example. Java-based RAD tools require an application server such as IBM's WebSphere, BEA's WebLogic, or perhaps an open-source application server such as Apache Tomcat or JBoss. But many can use common technologies that work across almost all Web servers, such as PHP and Perl.

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