Rapid Developer Profile: Javan Berry, Digital Risk
Mendix enables a new and innovative way of building applications. Just as our approach is different, so too are the people who use the platform. Mendix developers don’t fit the mold of a traditional developer. They have one leg in IT and the other in the business. They would rather solve problems than get bogged down with low-level details. Consequently, they’re able to build great apps at astonishing speeds.
Today, we’re launching a new series profiling these app delivery ninjas: where they come from, what they’re working on and what they enjoy when they’re not delivering projects on time and under budget. Our first profile is Javan Berry, Business Engineer at Digital Risk. For a full look at how Digital Risk is using Mendix, watch this on-demand webinar.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
I received my degree in web design from the International Academy of Design and Technology and have been working as a front-end developer since 2002. I started with Digital Risk in 2012, working on web designs, mainly user experience and styling.
I didn’t have much hands-on development experience beyond HTML. I’d create the necessary designs in Photoshop, do some HTML and CSS and then hand over the work to the back-end development team.
2. How were you introduced to Mendix? What was your initial reaction?
I heard my manager talking about creating a new team focused on Mendix. When I learned that the platform was workflow based, I immediately asked to be a part of the team. I really hate coding and saw that Mendix made it easier to build functionality. I was excited about the idea of doing everything on my own, and not needing a developer to finish my designs. I also saw this as a way for me to show greater value to the company.
3. What have you built using the platform? Which app are you most proud of?
I’ve worked on some business workflow apps and information management apps. I am most proud of the data display app (part of the information management project) for one of our clients that allows their customers to view and update information in real time. I’ve worked on it from the start and have helped it grow and become an important project for the client.
The app is so popular that the client constantly has enhancement requests and they are really happy at the speed in which we complete them. We’re so fast with Mendix that we often make changes faster than our testers can test them – a problem we’re okay with!
4. Have you had any “aha moments” using Mendix?
I can remember creating a user inactivation Microflow that would inactivate users if they had not logged into the app within a certain period of time. When I saw myself using variables and loops without help, I knew I was ready to tackle harder projects.
5. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
Mendix is definitely fast. We still have a .NET team at Digital Risk but when the business wants something quickly, they come to the Mendix team.
I enjoy my job a lot more because I work in Mendix. I used to work in Visual Studio .NET and I hope I never have to go back to it. In Mendix, I don’t have to decipher code or worry about where my design stops versus a programmer’s code or whether it’s safe for me to make a change somewhere without breaking something.
6. What advice would you give to new Mendix developers?
Don’t get frustrated if you don’t understand how it all connects at first. Start by trying to recreate apps and microflows others have built. And remember: it’s okay if your microflow looks different. I quickly saw that I don’t think the same way as software engineers do, but I can still accomplish the same end result.
Also, the Mendix interface is pretty simple and intuitive. The error handling is also really strong. It doesn’t allow you to create irrational microflows, which helped to boost my confidence as a new developer. I didn’t have to worry about breaking things like I would with .NET. I could just focus on what the business was looking to achieve.
7. What are your favorite news sites/blogs/forums?
I like Lynda.com for video tutorials. You can learn about anything, but I focused on a few basic database courses. Also, I think SmashingMagazine.com is a great place to get the latest trends in the web world, including HTML5, CSS3 and responsive design.
8. What are you interested in/passionate about outside of work?
I’m fairly artsy. I like music in general and play the guitar and drums. I also like photography (and my Canon7D) and occasionally going salsa dancing.
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