One of the most important processes in software development is the Rapid Application Development (RAD) model. The RAD model promotes adaptability – it emphasizes that requirements should be able to change as more knowledge is gained during the project lifecycle. Not only does it offer a viable alternative to the conventional waterfall model, but it has also spawned the development of the Agile methodology, which you can learn more about here.
A core concept of the RAD model is that programmers should quickly develop prototypes while communicating with users and teammates. However, historically, this has been hard to do – when starting a project, you often need to decide which languages, libraries, APIs, and editors to use before you can begin. This takes the “rapid” out of rapid application development, and this was always a problem until online integrated development environments (IDEs) started popping up.
Benefits of Online IDEs
Online IDEs such as JSFiddle and Plunker are inherently a key part of the RAD model. They are better than traditional editors for fast paced development because of the following benefits:
- Lightweight – An online IDE is always a click of a button away, and it’s extremely easy to start using one. By simply navigating to https://plnkr.co/edit, you have a basic project created and ready to go. Users can import additional packages too, as they’re already listed and ready to add.
- Collaboration – When prototyping in a rapid fashion, version control systems are often overkill and will slow you down. Sharing code built with an online IDE is easy – you simply send a URL over to a coworker or client, and they can access and test your code without any additional steps required. This allows you to gather feedback quickly, and move on to the actual code development phase faster.
- Risk Mitigation – One of the problems with traditional paper
prototyping or wireframing using tools like Balsamiq is that mocked up features can sometimes be architecturally implausible to build.
This results in realizations later in the project that require radical re-designs and major development timeline changes. It’s easy to mitigate this risk via online IDEs – since developers are writing and sharing actual code, clients know that what they’re being shown is possible to build.
These are just some of the many reasons that online IDEs are becoming so popular today. They’ve proven invaluable during early prototyping and development phases because of their lightweight nature, the collaborative benefits they provide, and the risks they often mitigate. The RAD model and Agile methodologies have been aided by the improvement of online IDEs, and it’s clear that websites like JSFiddle and Plunker are here to stay.
What are other benefits you've found while working with online IDEs? Share your wisdom with us in a comment below!
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