Today, we have a guest post from Mohammed Siddiqui, a Mendix developer who joined LV= last year as part of Rod Willmott’s Fast Track innovation team. Mohammed joined LV= after graduating with a Master’s degree from Teesside University, where he wrote his thesis on Mendix. In this post, he shares how he leveraged Mendix’s Enterprise App Store to build and publish a starter-kit module that is shaving additional time off what are already jaw-dropping delivery time-frames, even by Mendix standards!
When I start a new project, one of the first questions I ask the business is, “When do you need the software or product to be delivered by”? The answer is often “Now” or “Yesterday.” The only way to deliver projects now or yesterday is to have things in place even before you start the project and that is exactly what I did here at LV=. Mendix helps us to develop applications and meet these business demands quickly and efficiently.
In early April, we were getting various project demands from different areas of business and during that time, we delivered several successful pilot projects. What we learned from those pilot projects that there was no need to keep repeating the same things at the start of each project. It got us thinking about how to further streamline the app delivery process.
To do so, we developed a ‘starter-kit’ for our organization with a company theme and all the required components to kick start a project. We then uploaded this to our private app store in Mendix (aka the Mendix Enterprise App Store), which is accessed only by our organization. Initially, we had published some of the common modules, but this time, we created a new project with the standard company layout combined with all the important modules developed by LV= as well as some mandatory Mendix App Store modules. This layout can now be downloaded from the private app store or selected when creating a new project, as shown in the screenshot below.
The main aim of creating this layout was to make the development of Mendix applications even quicker. Due to high demand for Mendix development, we were facing some issues with fulfilling business needs, as adoption of Mendix within LV= started growing and business wanted to get all their projects delivered as soon as possible. This app layout eased our issues with respect to development, cost and delivery as we no longer need to spend time setting up mandatory elements, such as user confirmation, password reset, theming, etc. If you use this layout while creating your new project, then all these important modules are downloaded automatically in your project.
To develop this layout project, which includes the standard company theme and all the mandatory user settings that we use in every project, I created a new app in Mendix 5, developed a company branded theme and imported all the modules that are required to start a new project and configured them in a way that we can start using these features once this project layout is selected. Some of the core modules used in this project are;
- Email Templates
- Excel Importer
- IP Range
- Mx Model Reflection
- Audit Trail
- Community Commons
- Non-Working Days
The major benefit of using this app layout is that it saves us 3-5 days of time and effort each project, which was originally spent on setting up these modules. The business engineers can now focus on core business requirements without worrying about other common features. Moreover, this helps us deliver the project faster and at a lower cost. Two weeks after making this app layout, another pilot project opportunity came around which proved a perfect testing ground for our new starter-kit. We saved 40% on delivery time and were able to deliver the pilot within a week to get the business buy-in which will save significant company expenses.
Since publishing this project to our private app store, I have published a couple of new versions to add new user settings based on user feedback. The future plan is to research some more helpful modules and add them to this project. Currently, I am about to expand this app by adding an SMTP module during my free time. We will continue to get more feedback and share this layout with other Mendix developers within the organization for continuous improvement. Further, we are thinking about publishing app services for address lookup, bank wizard, etc.
I would highly recommend creating apps, modules, layouts, app services and publishing these into your company app store to help your company stay on the fast track to app delivery.
Finally, I would like to thank Simon Black for the inspiration and for encouraging me to write this post. I’m curious how other Mendix customers are using the enterprise app store. Let me know in the comments below.