In today’s maker profile, we’re featuring Joppe van Gisbergen, Mendix Consultant at Bizzomate. In this story, you’ll hear how Joppe made the leap from Taxi driver to rapid developer, without any formal background in development.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
After high school, I studied public administration at Tilburg University. After a few years, I realized that I wasn’t interested in pursuing that field of study and started working. I had a series of small jobs, including working as a bus driver and then as a taxi driver. Last August I made the decision to quit University.
I was always interested in IT though, and I was always fiddling around with technology. Because of this, a friend suggested that I should take a look at the Mendix App Platform and apply for a job at Bizzomate, which is using the platform to create applications for their customers.
Instantly I decided to give it a try, creating a small application based on my experience with taxi companies. I made a fleet management application and sent it to Bizzomate together with a job application. I was very happy when I was invited to come into the Bizzomate office for an interview. After creating another small Mendix application and working through a business case example based on the application, I was offered a job at Bizzomate.
2. How did you ramp up?
I started by taking Mendix’s online course. While I didn’t have any development experience, I have always had an analytical way of reviewing problems which helped a lot. At the beginning, it was of course a challenge to understand how a complex application fits together with all its different components. To me, this was more of a general development hurdle, rather than something specific to Mendix.
Once I understood how an application is built (such as the associations between data entities), I was able to figure out how they worked in Mendix. The Business Modeler, for example, was pretty easy for me to use. I built my first application within three days – this was a huge eye opener into the possibilities with Mendix!
3. Can you describe one of the applications you’ve built?
Bizzomate has developed a Decision Modeling platform built in Mendix to model, test, validate and automate business rules, called Avola. We are continuously adding more features to this platform through Mendix, so for my first project I created a governance workflow that ties into the Avola product. The workflow is triggered based on a new business decision and includes a number of tasks for approvers, domain owners, and quality assurance.
4. Do you use any App Store content?
No matter the project, I use a lot of the technical components in the App Store, including community commons, model reflection, and logging. If the component or widget already exists, I prefer to use it from the App Store rather than have to build it myself. It saves time and lets me focus on the more challenging problems at hand. In addition to the public App Store, Bizzomate uses the private App Store as well.
5. What advice do you have for other Mendix developers?
Just go for it. Just create an application on your own based on your available resources. Mendix has online training tools and a forum for discussions. Once you have an understanding of the platform, you can discuss with other community members to get their perspectives as well. With Mendix, you can really do anything – which means you can reach a certain goal in many ways. There isn’t one best way, but there are surely ways that are better than others, which is the reason why it’s important to discuss your ideas with others and learn from other people’s best practices.
6. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
Mendix has helped us to take a more agile approach and deliver results to the business faster than ever before. For example, I was working on a proof of concept for a daily quality control solution to help one of our customers. But they needed the solution quickly. Together with a colleague I was able to turn around a working application within one week, which wouldn’t have been possible with traditional development tools.
7. How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
For people with IT knowledge, I would say it’s a model-driven development platform.
For people who don’t have that knowledge, I would call it a platform to help people create applications faster – and then I normally mention my own usage. If I can do it – it must be simple! I’ve never programmed, but within three months, I was already able to create numerous applications for large and small customers.
8. What are you interested in/passionate about outside of work?
I like to hang out with friends and enjoy cooking (particularly classic French style cuisine, but I’m experimenting with molecular cooking as well.). Also, I like repairing old cars. I don’t have any formal experience in this, but similar to how I picked up Mendix, I just keep on testing things and because of this I am now able to learn how to maintain old Citroëns.