What is Rational Unified Process?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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A Rational Unified Process, or RUP, is a common strategy utilized in the development of software programs. This web-enabled process provides a number of different tools that assist the programmer in fleshing out the basic code for a program, as well as helping to determine the final look of the product that the end user purchases and utilizes. Like many products that are designed to function in a similar fashion, a Rational Unified Process is considered to be object-oriented.

Several of the tools that are part of the Rational Unified Process are designed to be of assistance at every stage of the development process. There are general guidelines that apply to each step along the way, as well as templates and basic prototypes that the programmer may want to use as the basis for one or more stages of the code. Because RUP is designed to address the entire development project, it is not just about putting together the basic flow of the program. It also involves establishing documents, setting definitions for actions and even aiding in the creation of help guides and manuals to go along with the software.

The scope of Rational Unified Process can be broken down into four distinct stages or phases. Each succeeding phase builds on the work accomplished in the previous phase and develops the program into a usable product that is likely to attract the attention of end users.


Software developers begin the Rational Unified process by entering into what is known as the inception phase. At this point, the focus is on defining the purpose and function of the software. This includes the identification of what the software is intended to accomplish that is not being done by other programs on the market.

The second stage is known as the elaboration phase. Here the Rational Unified Process demands that the scope and purpose defined in the inception phase be scrutinized and broken down into the essential building blocks needed to begin developing the specific architecture for the software program. Each aspect of the program is analyzed thoroughly and the relationship between individual functions is defined.

After completion of the elaboration phase, the construction phase of the Rational Unified Process begins. Here, all the building blocks that were identified and created during the elaboration phase begin to be assembled into a workable product. It is here that the programmer begins to lay out the final application design and also refine the source code. Beta testing also takes place during this phase.

The final stage of the Rational Unified Process is known as the transition phase. This is simply the point at which the programmer’s work is essentially done and the software is made available to end users.

All through the various defined stages, RUP provides prototypes or models that help to keep the programmer on track with the successful completion of one phase and the migration to the next phase. While not the only product on the market that provides this level of assistance, Rational Unified Process is among the most popular.


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