Developers increasingly rely on rapid application development (RAD) tools to get web apps to market or into use faster. Digital agility is highly prized in today’s exceedingly competitive market. Whether it’s developing an internal solution to a business problem or creating a new product, Forrester finds 100% of enterprises that turned to a low code environment achieve ROI.
Let’s take a look at how RAD tools save time and money and then focus on a few popular PHP RAD platforms and other RAD tools you should consider.
Advantages of the Low Code Environment
RAD tools are all about minimizing the line of code you need to write to push your product out the door. Whether that door leads to the open market, or you are developing for internal use, you never want to spend more time than necessary to get a well-functioning app available.
The low code approach using RAD tools makes that happen. Instead of writing code, you drag and drop elements or select from a drop-down menu. In a nutshell, visual tools write the code for you.
As you can imagine, there are benefits to companies and developers.
- Apps get to market quicker
- IT departments gain a little breathing space
- Non-developers can take over certain tasks
- Fewer bugs in code because it is machine-written, not coded by hand
- Developers have more opportunity to experiment and innovate
Combine the Agile approach with RAD tools and you can act on ideas much faster. And because you don’t need coding skills, there are times when analysts can develop solutions instead of merely documenting requirements. RAD tools in conjunction with the RAD process puts the focus on prototyping, testing, and gaining feedback to make adjustments.
RAD tools solve the problem of ever-increasing time to completion/market as apps get more sophisticated. The machine-generated code is much more reliable and spends less time in the quality assurance phase. It relieves stress on the IT department as they aren’t constantly scaling a backlog mountain. And because they aren’t as reliant on developers, projects can move forward even as developers move in and out of the company.
That’s why RAD tools are important. Now, let’s take a look at a few tools available today.
The Laminas Project is an open-source continuation of the Zend framework. It combines PHP components with a model-view-controller framework. With the Mezzio component, you can build PHP middleware application connectors quickly.
Other use cases include the creation of barcodes as images or PDFs and generating RSS feeds. The API component allows you to separate data from its presentation logic, carrying the legacy of Apigility forward.
If you previously used the Zend framework or Apigility, you can migrate your libraries to the new Laminas project.
Brought to you by the people that created Magento, OroCRM, and OroCommerce, the OroPlatform is an enterprise-grade PHP RAD suite of tools. OroPlatform is the basis of popular open-source products such as Marello ERP and Diamante help desk solutions. That’s because OroPlatform is an open-source solution. OroPlatform can be used by multiple developers in the company.
And you know it’s powerful and flexible because it’s the platform used to create entire web application products.
Because it’s built on Symfony, you get all the tools you need to create web applications and responsive mobile applications. Or create applications for your internal needs such as a PIM or CRM. OroPlatform provides the most robust suite of RAD tools for PHP available today.
Like OroPlatform, PHPRad provides PHP tools. And it also gives you access to other RAD tools as well. It provides 60 Bootstrap themes and allows you to build single-page applications with Vuejs.
This menu-driven collection of RAD tools lets you configure page design and set properties with just a few clicks.
There’s quite a bit of power under the hood, but it comes with a pretty hefty price tag as well. It’s available in your choice of a single developer license good for 6 months of updates or a 50 developer license that gives updates for 2 years. Either way, you end up paying for products like Vue.js and PostgreSQL which are free.
The ServiceNow platform is great if you are looking for a tool to automate workflows. It includes a flow designer and an integration hub to get work processes flowing across systems for an end-to-end solution.
It includes a Virtual Agent component. This is helpful for escalating service or work tickets within the organization, saving 2 employees time on the phone or emailing.
The apps created rival those of common consumer apps in appearance, so you have minimal dip due to the learning curve.
The code is proprietary, but there is a limited, free version. The full version begins at $10,000 per year.
Just as ServiceNow is dedicated to the single task of automating workflows, ScriptCase focuses on converting databases to apps, web systems, and reports. This RAD tool is a PHP code generator.
Take spreadsheets and turn them into databases. Then convert those databases to web apps. ScriptCase manages the connection to a variety of database management systems such as MySQL, MS Database, Firebird, and SQLite. And a single ScriptCase project can manage multiple connections to different databases.
As with other proprietary tools, pricing depends on several factors. But plan on about $350 to $600 per year.
This RAD tool embodies the essence of low code development. Use it to create apps to solve internal problems at a low cost. The user interface is mainly to drag and drop, making it easy for non-developers to get up and running quickly. It’s great for collaboration tools like calendars or presentation tools like charts. There’s even a signature capture workflow when getting a real sign-off is important.
FileMaker does what it does very well. But, it’s not for every application. However, for an entry-level RAD, you only pay an entry-level price, $20 for 20 users.
Open-Source versus Proprietary Options
We’ve included both open-source and proprietary options for RAD tools for your review. Like any other solution, open-source has its benefits. If you place a high degree of importance on support, security, and community then open-source RAD tools will best suit your needs.
If you need to get up and running quickly and are willing to pay for upgrades and support, the proprietary route might be best.
Whichever way you go, make sure your road to rapid development application includes low code solutions.
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