New Community Features Created by the Community

on October 5, 2016

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Mendix has a great community that contributes to our growth in many important and dynamic ways.  These contributions – such as adding App Store content, answering Mendix Forum questions, and organizing Meetups – are increasing every week. We are even starting to hear from community members who are wondering, how can I contribute even more?

We love hearing this. We’re always open to developing new win-win ventures with the Mendix community, because when developers are continuously learning, they build features that are valuable for the entire community. I am very enthusiastic about what I’ve seen lately: the community is improving, developing, and maintaining their own community tools.

In this context, our latest project is more than worth sharing with you.

The next level of community self-organization

As most of you know, we released the Partner Profile feature at Mendix World in June. This new feature helps our customers find the partners that best meet their needs. Partners can present themselves on their profiles by adding reference cases, their developers (as long as their profile is public), and their developer certification levels. There is a strong connection between the Community Profile and the Partner Profile, as explained in this blog post.

Paul Ketelaars and Willem van Zantvoort, both from the TimeSeries Group, saw room for improvement here. They came up with an idea, let me quote Paul:

Since partners are able to add projects to their Partner Profile, why not also add those projects to every developer profile on the project team? That way, you can add project roles to the reference cases, which would add a lot of value to both the Partner Profiles and Community Profiles. The companies can show what project roles they “own” (for example, Business Engineer, SCRUM master, Architect), and the developers can choose to show their project roles (which can then be validated according to specific project work). Developers can accept or hide the reference cases that are duplicated to the Community Profile. This incentivizes companies to add projects and reference cases, which will be displayed and benefit the community.

 


screencast – add developers to your reference projects

 

A feature initiated and designed by the community itself: a terrific idea! So we decided to work together to implement this.

After a kick-off session in which we defined the requirements, Paul and Willem started building. They first created their user stories for the project and started a branch line. We communicated through Slack, tackled the user stories one-by-one, did testing after each story, and released the complete branch.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Paul and Willem demonstrated a lot of intrinsic motivation here to give back to the community. Willem explained to me what’s more:

We were curious about how Mendix built the Community Profile, especially with the gamification system, UX solutions, and custom widgets. We learned a lot about how the Community Team builds applications, their best practices and code of conduct, and how we can collaborate and share knowledge.

Of course there were risks in a project like this. At the start we wondered, what will the quality of their work be? When will they finish, especially since it’s completely voluntary? What’s the best way to collaborate? Will they follow the same code of conduct? And what’s in it for them?

There was no need for us to be concerned. Next to their daily work the development only took a month, which is a great accomplishment. The thing is, contributing to the community is a way to display your talents, which means that everybody involved makes sure their work is something to be proud of. In the end, just wanting to share this kind of work ensures a high level of quality.

This is a new way to look at the community: they can already add content, and now we are opening up our tools and enabling the community to create their own. Everyone knows that it’s best to let the people who actually have the idea and/or experience the problem build the application. This way, the community gets the benefit of the tools that are being created and the projects that are being self-organized.

 

Many thanks to Paul Ketelaars & Willem van Zantvoort for creating these features and giving us the opportunity to take the community contributions to the next level!

Conclusion

It feels like a great success to make it possible for community members to collaborate on the development of their own tools. Based on Paul and Willem’s work described above, partners can now add developers in the right roles to the reference cases on their profiles. Call to action for all partner companies: make sure you add all reference cases and complete them with the developers who have made that project a success.

It’s true that the Community and Partner Profile application was very complex. However, because Mendix is so accessible, it was very easy to contribute to this project. If any of you developers have other ideas for one of the community apps in Mendix, it’s proven that they can easily be added. Contact us! We can work together to build it.

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Leon van Moorsel

About Leon van Moorsel

Leon van Moorsel is manager of the Community team at Mendix. Together with his team he enables the Mendix developer community by providing documentation, training, an App Store, Expert Webinars, meetups, and more. He also focuses on growing the developer community by onboarding new developers and making them successful.

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