Business Modeling to the rescue!

on June 2, 2010

Last week, Mendix’ head of RnD Johan den Haan had the opportunity to speak at the SDN event, a conference dedicated to .Net, Architecture, Information Worker, Delphi, Databases, User eXperience, DotNetNuke, Core Systems, SharePoint 2010, the design of GUIs, testing and debugging of real-world Delphi applications. Needless to say, leading national and international software developers were in attendance.

Johan had prepared a presentation that focused on improving productivity, business and IT alignment, as well as the quality of software development. As the audience mostly consisted of programmers, his ultimate goal was to discuss with attendees the future of software development, and whether it will involve modeling or programming.

The presentation started with an introduction to why software should be developed more cost effectively, faster and above all, better. Johan illustrated this idea with  several recent articles from industry magazines about failed software development projects.  Proving once and for all that although much has improved throughout the last decade, software development is still failure-prone.

These failures indicate that although much has been done, we should be looking for a new boost in productivity. During his presentation, Johan explained that MDD (model-driven development) infuses the development adrenaline that the doctor called for. Although some visitors were skeptical about this statement, Johan proved otherwise to the audience by building an application from scratch using the Mendix platform in less than 15 minutes.

Using widgets and styling themes from the recently released Mendix App Store, Johan showed the audience what this productivity boost could look like using the Mendix platform. With only a few mouse clicks he embedded Google maps in less than a minute, then restyled the complete application in the Apple Macbook’ start up theme, further impressing the audience.

The most interesting points of discussion were questions regarding how to  treat requirements that cannot be modeled ( the biggest Achilles’  heel of the  so called 4th generation (programming) languages, 4 GL for short) . Johan explained that this is no longer an issue, or at least not on the Mendix platform, due to the ability to add custom java code to your model. He even illustrated this by adding some custom Java to the application he just had developed.

What the future of software development will look like, nobody knows. Our gut feeling is that MDD will prove to be a valuable driver of productivity, business alignment, and quality within software development.