Mendix Crash Course: From intro to app in just one day
It was standing room only for Crash Course, our intensive, all-day, hands-on introduction to the Mendix low-code platform that took place on Monday, the warm-up day for Mendix World 2019. More than 50 individuals attended from all kinds of enterprises — a major Dutch retailer, an international paper manufacturer, an Asian telecommunications company, and many others, plus a full cohort from Accenture in their own separate session.
The morning was spent in a rapid-fire introduction to the Mendix platform and theory. Mendix Evangelist Simon Black gave the platform overview, covering architecture, microservices, pages, modules, microflows and nanoflows, and a whole lot more. Then, Technical Trainer Lennaert Goris walked through setting up a sample application in Desktop Modeler; the client was the HR department of a fictional hospital. In an amazingly short time, he covered setting up the new app, importing data, domain models, managing data via pages, interacting with data, the app store, securing the app, and more.
Early on, the crowd was subdued, maybe because it took so much concentration to take in that much information so quickly. But after lunch, when it was time to build their own application, the room came to life.
Building an app in a day
The assignment was to build an application that would enable a manager to categorize, organize, assign, and schedule staff by skill level. That’s a lot of functionality to put into an app that was being built in about two hours.
After they got the sample data uploaded, the only thing slowing down this room-full of “makers” was finding their way around the screen. One user’s comment represented the group’s predominant sentiment: “It’s like anything new. The hardest part is just getting familiar with where the things are that I need.”
Lennaert Goris counseled a bit of patience. “A tool has a certain way of working,” he said. “Once you get used to it, then it clicks and becomes very powerful. You can’t accomplish this trying to show somebody a piece of Java code.”
In terms of concepts, processes, and functionality, there was little confusion or complaint. No one expressed a longing for parentheses and symbols and nested statements.
Before long, the developers were ticking off the functionality they successfully built into the app. Assign skill? Check. Group by skill? Check. Schedule by skill? Check. At the end of the afternoon, nearly everyone in the room had built their application and seemed pleased with it. But time ran out before anyone could demo their newly minted application to the group.
This was our first Crash Course, but surely won’t be the last. The consensus was that it could have easily gone to two or three days and been even more useful. But the fact that a group of developers of diverse skills and backgrounds could get trained in the morning and produce a respectable application with multiple levels of functionality in the afternoon is a testimony to the usability and power of the Mendix platform.
By the end of the day, there was a room full of developers convinced of the value of Mendix low-code, proving the age-old adage that seeing is believing. And making something is marvelous!