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The Mendix May Release: Hot Deployment Gets Hotter, Usability and Enhanced Excel Export/Import for User Stories

on May 29, 2014

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Time flies! Another month, and hence another release. This is what we have in store for you in the Mendix May Release:

Hot Deployment continued

In our April release, we introduced a hot deployment or ‘fast rerun’ feature that can update a running project if only changes to pages, layouts and snippets were made. The next image summarizes the improvement in deployment time for different projects.

hot deployment perf.web

Change in deployment time of an application with (blue) and without (green) fast rerun option enabled

In this release, we processed the feedback we received. The main issue we fixed is deploying to a shared file system (e.g. from a virtual machine). But that’s not all. We received so much positive feedback that we couldn’t resist taking another step!

In the May release, we add another optimization to the ‘Run’ process. If a full restart of the runtime is necessary, Java compilation can be skipped if no relevant files have changed. Mendix actually checks this for you. That means that, in many cases, the deployment process in the Business Modeler will be twice as fast! You can enable the ‘fast rerun’ and this new optimization in the preferences dialog (Edit > Preferences).

Consistency checks for the security definitions in the application model

The Business Modeler contains a security check that checks whether pages that can be visited by a certain user role only refer to data that that this user role has access to. This check is now compatible with new Mendix 5 features, such as snippets and menu widgets. This might mean that you will get security errors when opening your project in the new release. You probably want to fix those, but the security check can optionally be disabled in the project explorer (Project > Security > Check security). The security check is an approximation that can be very helpful but cannot cover all cases, e.g. opening a page from Java or dealing with role-based logic in a microflow.

Defining multiple run configurations

Configurations can be used to switch between sets of server settings. For example, you can switch between running your project against a local test database e.g. SQL Server and running it against a different database server e.g. Postgres.

We have seen that the powerful option of having multiple run configurations came at a usability cost. That’s why we did some nice improvements in the usability of the Configurations Editor. The editor now clearly indicates which configuration is active by using a check mark. Also, new configurations are activated automatically, so that you cannot forget to do that. The same holds for editing or duplicating an existing configuration. The new ‘Make active’ button makes it possible to switch manually.

Excel export and import of sprints and user stories

In the “capture” phase of the application lifecycle, Mendix allows you to capture requirements and “manage” your sprints and user stories. It also contains an option to export and re-import your sprints and backlog to and from an Excel file. This allows you for example to do basic backlog grooming in Excel. The basic features of the stories and tasks in the backlog were already in the export: Story number, name, description, status, and labels and the tasks corresponding to those stories.

What was missing until now, and has been an often-requested feature, is the inclusion of story points (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.) and story type (i.e. Bug, Feature) in the exported Excel file. We now export those fields, and update them on import. Additionally, story labels are now also imported. Well, you asked, and we delivered:

2014-05 May release - import detailThe above image shows what it looks like when you import an Excel file in which labels are added to stories, and when story point or type values are changed. Only valid values for story points and type are accepted, and only existing labels are imported (to prevent unintentional creation of new labels). And of course you will get a clear error message if you provide an incorrect value.

Please note that there is also an API available to get and update stories via a Mendix App Service or web service.

How to create your first AppCloud-powered app

We have been steadily improving the Mendix AppCloud since we announced it at Mendix World 2014. The availability of Mendix Community Edition has made it possible to create your first AppCloud-powered app in minutes. On our blog, our engineers have described five simple steps to deploy a new app to a sandbox, and invite end-users to use it. If you haven’t tried out sandboxes yet, now is the time to do so!

Stay tuned

As always: all features are automatically available for everyone online. To get the new features in the Business Modeler, download the most recent version (5.5.0) here.

We deliberately kept this release a bit small. That’s for good reason: we are testing some cool stuff for next month. Stay tuned!

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About Johan den Haan

As Mendix’s chief technology officer, Johan leads the company’s overall technical strategy and research & product development teams. Johan speaks regularly at technology events and is a renowned blogger on a range of topics, including PaaS, Model-Driven Development, Scrum, cloud computing and software engineering. He earned a Master of Science in Computer Science with a specialization in Information Architecture from the Delft University of Technology. Keep in touch at @JohanDenHaan.

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