application developer

IBM Rational Application Developer

IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software (RAD) is an integrated development environment (IDE), made by IBM's Rational Software division, for visually designing, constructing, testing, and deploying Web services, portals, and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) applications.


Rational Application Developer includes code and visual editors for:

It also has a built-in WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Portal test environments and tight integration with other Rational tools, such as ClearCase version control and ClearQuest configuration management.

All Rational software products, including RAD and Rational Software Architect (RSA), are plugins that are built on top of a common framework, which itself consists of plugins that sit on top of the open-source Eclipse development platform. The first Rational product that you install also installs the common framework. When you install other Rational products, the existing framework is used and only product-specific plugins are installed. This technique is known as shell-sharing. Shell-sharing is enforced and cannot be deactivated.

Because RAD is Eclipse-based, it can take advantage of a vibrant market of third-party plugins for Eclipse, as well as plugins specifically for Rational tools.


Rational Application Developer was originally known as WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD). WSAD was first released in 2001 and was positioned as the successor to both WebSphere Studio, which was originally focused on HTML development only, and VisualAge for Java. In 2005, IBM rebranded WSAD as RAD, reflecting IBM's strategy of concentrating all core developer tools into Rational, which IBM bought in 2003.

The latest version of RAD is Version 7.5.0, which was released in September 2008.


  • One of the most costly IDEs available, yet based on an open source project.
  • Very memory intensive. Running RAD and WAS can consume 1GB of RAM. This makes RAD very impractical for local development without a significant amount of RAM installed.
  • Large footprint. Consumes several GB of disk space for a default installation.
  • Slow. Starting a local version of webshpere can take 15 minutes of a developer's time. Websphere must be restarted several times daily depending on code changes that are made.
  • "Dumbed-down" features. For example, Window -> Preferences -> Servers contains a setting that allows the user to adjust the server timeout delay. Rather than providing timeouts in terms of milliseconds or seconds, the available options are Shorter, Short, Normal, Long, Longer, and Unlimited. Yet if the server times out at startup, it provides an error message indicating the timeout. If required to increase the timeout, the user is forced to guess which option to choose.
  • Not developer friendly. Very complex user interface. IBM offers RAD certification. This indicates that even an intimate knowledge of the underlying programming languages are insufficient in order to use RAD.

List of Eclipse based products

See also

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