One Developers Journey from Human Movement Sciences to Building Valuable Apps
In today’s maker profile, we are featuring Mathilde Mulder, Mendix developer at TimeSeries. Discover how she went from no IT background to building valuable business applications.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
I studied human movement sciences at University. Human movement science is the study of the human body, specifically how humans move, how they can move more efficiently and how to prevent injuries. It is very mathematical. Through my studies, I experienced working with sensors to track things like acceleration and angular velocity. We used a program called MATLAB to write programs to interpret and present the data coming from the sensors. For more complex representation and analyses of the data Java was used on top of MATLAB. I never built these Java programs from scratch, but we had to change and add new features to the code written in Java. This is how I first got in touch with programming.
After my studies, I wanted to build apps to help people to move more but realized I didn’t have the skills to build them myself. I knew if I had better IT skills I could do so much more with this data! I began looking for jobs in IT that had training programs and this is how I found Mendix.
2. How were you introduced to Mendix? What was your initial reaction?
I had seen some Java and I originally wanted to become a Java developer. My friends who study computer sciences told me that through my studies I already had a fair amount of knowledge and that it was a waste of time to start from scratch through another university course. So instead of going back to university, I started to apply for traineeships at IT companies.
Pink Elephant was interested in me as a consultant developer. They asked me if I knew Mendix and I said no, but I came for an interview as a Mendix developer anyway. Once I realized what Mendix was, I knew it was the right fit for me, especially with my lack of programming experience. When you talk about integrating IT into a process, Mendix is spot on. I was sold from the beginning, I didn’t have any coding background but could use the platform. I got the job and have been developing with Mendix ever since.
3. What was most helpful learning Mendix?
I started reading the documentation and watched YouTube videos before I was hired at Pink Elephant. I completed the online introduction course but actually found that diving right into the platform was the best way to learn. Working in the modeler with other experienced Mendix developers next to me helped a lot because I could ask them questions. I also really love the forum, it is a hugely helpful source of information. It’s amazing how quickly people react to your questions.
4. What have you built using the platform? Which app/project are you most proud of?
I have built a B2B portal for an international logistics company called Geodis. This app is a portal for customers of Geodis to place orders and to check their material stocks. Through web services the Mendix app exchanges data with SAP.
The app I am most proud of is a smaller project started this year with a company that insures crew members on ships. Each crew member only needs to be insured when they are on the ship, therefore the company wanted to track when a member was on the ship versus off the ship to only insure them for the proper amount of time. The company had a huge excel sheet to track when each person was on the ship and off the ship to calculate the amount of time they needed to be insured for. This process was highly inefficient. The excel sheets were altered by many different people and sent back and forth.
We built an app to get this information organized in a nice interface and made some rules so people couldn’t easily alter the data. This was a great example of the digital transformation of a company. The reaction I got was so great from every level of the company. We didn’t spend that many days on it but I was really happy with the results.
5. Have you had any “aha moments” using Mendix?
I definitely had many in the beginning and I still do. Mendix 7 offers so much out-of-the-box functionality. I right click and add a widget and I am amazed and the functionality it can immediately add to my app. It is amazing what is in the Mendix App Store, and every time something new comes out-of-the-box I am excited. I also love web services. The first time I saw how easy it is to build a mapping to consume or publish a web service I was amazed. One other aha moment was when I got the first reaction from the business on what I had built for them, they were happy and impressed, and I knew what Mendix was selling was true.
6. What advice would you give to other Mendix developers?
I recommend using the forum to ask a lot of questions and work with an experienced Mendix developer in the beginning. Mendix is easy to learn, but once your apps get to a certain size you need to know where to get the quick wins.
Mendix is a great platform to facilitate getting business/IT collaboration. It is easy to close the gap between business and IT with Mendix, but make sure you continue to work at keeping the business close and involved as you get past the first few projects, they are crucial to the success of your application.
7. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
I was originally looking into development positions to be able to build any type of app for anyone and everyone. Mendix has given me hope that I can accomplish this.
8. How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
Mendix is the solution of the century. It’s a platform that fits the speed of the society in which we live in and enables the translation of business logic into an IT solution.
9. What are your interests/hobbies outside of work?
I come from a musical family and I have always been a drummer. I was a fitness professional before Mendix and it’s still something I do on the side of my development job. I love whales, I like to read about them and go whale watching.