Short Month, Big Features: Introducing The Mendix February Release
Johan den Haan / March 6, 2014
In case you are still wondering why our last release was called the January release, here is the answer. Today I am happy to announce our February release. This release is packed again with numerous cool new features, improvements, and fixes based on your feedback.
Support for files in App Services
Our vision for application landscapes is that multiple small apps (or components, if you will), each having their own agile lifecycle, together support complete business processes. However, if your application landscape consists of multiple applications that work together to support the business, it is no longer the agility of a single application that determines the time-to-market of business innovations. Business changes can (and will) impact multiple applications at once, which means that the whole application landscape needs to evolve quickly to foster business innovation.
In order to easily share logic and data across applications we introduced App Services. App Services can be used to connect multiple applications within a company (e.g. an app that stores your product data, which can be easily re-used in any other app), but companies can also build App Services and provide them to the Mendix Community as out-of-the-box, cloud-based building blocks that can be used in any application (e.g. send email, send text messages, identity management and SSO, etc.).
In the February release, we implemented a much-requested App Services feature: the ability to send and receive FileDocuments (binaries) and Images. Now you can create app services that provide and consume images, graphs and any other type of document (e.g. an App Service that provides central document storage including integrations with AWS S3 and DropBox, for instance). We look forward to seeing what App Services you build and share using this new capability.
Specify column widths of tables and datagrids in pixels
Since the release of Mendix 5, we have seen a lot of cool UIs built using the new layout capabilities. Based on what we have seen, we decided to add a feature that will make the lives of designers a bit easier (if you are not a designer, go tell the person that created the theme for your latest Mendix app; he/she will be happy!).
In addition to percentages, the widths of table and data grid columns can now be specified in terms of pixels. This allows you to have more direct control over the actual size of columns. When specifying widths in pixels, you can also use ‘auto’ for columns that should eat up the rest of the space. A use case of this new feature is a button bar that consists of a table of which all columns have width ‘auto’. It will also help to limit the number of “layout containers” that you need; just use tables instead (they are much more lightweight).
Multi-select for drop-down search fields
Drop-down search fields can now optionally allow multiple items to be selected. The drop-down will then contain check boxes in front of the items that can be checked or unchecked independently. This means that you can, for example, search for all orders that have status ‘In progress’ or ‘Done’.
Improvements for UI snippets
After a major release it is always interesting to see the reasons why users to migrate to the new version. You might expect that the shiny new features, but the small conveniences are often equally as important. The reason why a lot of people have migrated to Mendix 5 is snippets. I’m the first to say that snippets are a bit more than just a small convenience, but it hasn’t been the most marketed feature of Mendix 5.
Snippets are reusable interface parts that make it easier and quicker to create end-user UIs. They also make the model much easier to maintain as you can define your model in such a way that every UI part is only defined once. In our February release, we made a couple of improvements that will make snippets even more useful:
- A snippet can now be used in a context where a specialization of the entity of the snippet is available. For example, you can use a ‘Vehicle’ snippet in a data view based on ‘Car’.
- Snippets can be dragged from the project explorer or connector onto snippet call widgets.
- If a snippet call widget is in the context of an entity (e.g. a data view) and you create a snippet, the generated snippet will get the same entity as the data view and a table of labels and attribute widgets is created.
1-click “view app” experience
Our mission for this year is to make your app delivery experience as frictionless as possible. In the February release we went to great lengths to do so: we removed another 2 clicks (from a total of 3) from the process to view the result of your modeling efforts.
Just hit “deploy and run” in the Modeler, and we show the application in a browser tab inside the Modeler itself. This browser tab includes convenient buttons to switch easily among desktop, tablet, and phone preview modes. The F9 shortcut key variants will also open the desired device home page inside the browser tab.
How to get it?
Download version 5.2.0 of our Business Modeler from our App Store. Please have a look at the release notes for all other improvements and fixes we made.
Our next release will again be in a month; we are aiming for a steady rhythm here. This one will be special, though. It will be announced at Mendix World in the first week of April and you should make sure to be there. I promise you won’t be disappointed!