Low-Coding: Buzzword Bingo or Reality?

Do you get frustrated by long and tedious developments including bug fixing without knowing where the problem is; the miss-alignment between business, IT (and us, developers) because of mixed expectation between all parties; not being able to fully understand your end user (because functional consultants are always in the middle)? Not to mention the whole deployment process of getting something in production and making it work first time right! Like you, I’ve had these frustrations for years. And trust me, our customers have as well. But sometimes, something new comes along to help solve these issues. Like low-coding with Mendix.

Low-coding

I’m sure you’ve heard about low-coding somewhere before and probably checked it on your buzzword bingo list – just as I initially did. But I’m convinced this is different. Allow me to convince you too.

In early 2018, I was approached by a few people from the Mendix company. They suggested to take a look at the possibilities of low-coding. They claimed that they could develop faster (visual), in a more corporative way, and with easier deployment (which would help with many of my frustrations). At first, I was 100% skeptical about their claims. So, I sat down, put my feet up and took the “well, go ahead, I’ll give you five minutes to solve my frustrations” posture.

So, what does Mendix do again?

Just to refresh your memory: Mendix is a high-productivity app platform. It enables you to build mobile and web applications, scale them when required, and continuously improve them. The platform is designed to accelerate enterprise app delivery across your entire application development lifecycle, from ideation to deployment and operations. Mendix not only offers you the possibility to implement both agile and DevOps best practices. It also involves the business stakeholders. Using no-code (web modeler) and low-code (desktop IDE), Mendix allows business domain experts to work together with expert developers and reach a high level of alignment. So, in three words, Mendix is Speed, Collaboration, and Control.

Did they convince me?

In the end, it took less than those five minutes for me to realize that Low-Coding will be the next big thing. After analyzing interviews and customer data, I was convinced that the demand for Low-Coding is customer driven and that I, from a personal perspective, should act on it.

Since that session I became a certified Mendix Rapid Developer, worked on three different projects within our company, presented sessions for my (international) colleagues, and learned more about the possibilities Mendix has to offer. The speed, collaboration, and control took away all of my frustrations. It helped me to enjoy work more and deliver a user experience to customers that I could be proud of.

Collaboration is key

Let’s be honest, among the best things in the world is seeing the look in the eyes of end users when they test your application. Especially when it was the user himself who started the initial project. With Mendix, anyone can create no-code applications on the platform, invite other colleagues, share ideas, and start working together. This makes it is much easier to explain their ideas using something that already evolved to a prototype+, as opposed to your standard change request which may take weeks to be evaluated. As developers, business consultants, testers and scrum masters, we jump right in with the end-user and expand their idea’s, believes and help them to get to the next level. I really love collaborating with the key users like this.

A penny for your thoughts: a brief Q&A

I think you have many questions, probably the same ones I had. I want to address a few here:

How about the integration with SAP?

Mendix can handle all kinds of integration. Connecting with SAP is just done using the Odata models (not so different from SAPUI5). Mendix goes even further by making it very easy to connect with other external systems. It is even possible to expose the data in the Mendix application to external parties as well using REST or as an Odata service.

No- to low-coding: what if it gets really complicated?

No worries! Mendix has different options regarding complexity. There is no-coding. Visual web modeler for i.e. key-users who like to try out new ideas. Low-coding using the desktop modeler to add more logic to your application. Within the low-coding part we can add widgets (build in JavaScript) to add even more things of our own. And if you really would like to go all the way? Get your hardcore java coding ready (next to API, Rest, IOT, Machine Learning integration etc.). So, there is nothing Mendix can’t handle.

We all know SAP in combination with partnerships

True, not all partnership with SAP work smoothly. Somehow, this is different. Low-coding platforms are being used by many of our (new) customers and are here to stay. Customers are wary of long implementation sequences and demand an agile approach with a very short time to market regarding solutions. SAP recognized the problem (or frustration), that deploying applications from SAP just takes too long. The Solex partnership was the result for the Rapid Development gap at SAP. Integrating it with SAP is a logical step. SAP and Mendix offer almost seamless integration using SSO on the cloud platforms and if I understood it correctly, offers deployment to the HANA DB in the near future.

Do I need to learn a new language?

Well, yes and no. Yes, you need to learn something new (honestly, how cool is that?). But you’ll immediately see how easy it is to build applications and work together with others on a project. Just pick a problem one of your customers is struggling with and see what you can do. Just do!

Ok, I’m convinced! Where do I start?

Easy, just create an account on the Mendix cloud (here) and download the latest modeler (here). Start with the first learning modules and you are ready to go. Mendix offers an extensive amount of (up to date) tutorials (here) which allow you to certify as well.

Transform trust into value

So, those frustrations I mentioned in the beginning? If you don’t recognize them, your customers certainly do. Mendix is able to solve them. But it requires a different mindset from you as a programmer. Accept the fact that low-coding is here to stay and that the way we program is changing as well.

Low-Coding is customer driven. Customers demand a different mindset, they expect different skills from developers including intensive collaboration, speedy delivery, and complete control of the deployment. In fact, customers trust us to be able to provide them with the best possible value we have to offer. We need to transform trust into value. And with a low-coding platform like Mendix, we can provide that value.

Bingo.


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