How Paul Ketelaars uses Mendix to Build Smart Apps
In today’s maker profile, we are featuring Paul Ketelaars, Senior Mendix Consultant and Mendix MVP at Timeseries, a developer of software solutions for big data. Hear how he uses Mendix to create enterprise Smart Apps.
- What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
I have two years of software engineering experience but I believe I was too young at the time to take full advantage of it. My first introduction to Mendix was from a classmate who went to work for a company using Mendix. I was impressed when I looked up the company and asked if I could apply, and I did.
- What was your initial reaction to Mendix?
I had some prior development experience, and I was amazed at how easy it was to build an application using Mendix in my own time. When I started using it in my job it became clear to me that Mendix was a real game changer. I am a visual person and I like that I can model my processes visually and get through a technical process without writing a single line of code.
- What was most helpful learning Mendix?
When I started using Mendix, the training didn’t exist as much as it does now. I went to the office in Rotterdam to get my first Mendix lesson, completed the course and got my certification. On top of the training, the forum is very vibrant and it is easy to ask questions and get answers and different point of views from colleagues. I think the community support in combination with getting in there and trying it out for myself were the most helpful things when learning Mendix.
- What have you built using the platform? Which app/project are you most proud of?
My first project, which we finished in a few months, was a tool for an insurance company to easily identify the cost of claims in order to repair them. The application eliminated the need for forms and hassle and instead streamlined the process to receive money for the repairs. Not only did the app make the process for claims faster, but it would also initiate the repair and send someone to fix it without any hassle.
I have also been working on some projects that have a big focus in IoT and big data. Some fun things include a facial recognition app, where once it detects your face it logs you into the app. I am using the REST call to Mendix so I don’t need many external services at this time. We also created a smart building application at the Mendix World Hackathon and won. We are still improving and enhancing the app with different kinds of sensors and other cool features.
- Have you had any “aha moments” using Mendix?
I still do have “aha moments” when I browse the forums and read questions and answers. It is great to learn from Mendix and the different solutions and ideas the company shares with the community. I have many “aha moments” when building widgets and being able to develop them and use them is a great feeling. Some examples of widgets I have built are Tooltips, The Google Combo Chart, The Google Gantt Chart and Skycons.
- What advice would you give to new Mendix developers?
My advice is to keep your functionality as generic as possible to be able to reuse it later in the process. Always try to keep the big picture in mind and always see if you can clean and simplify areas of the app to continue to improve. I look around in the project to understand the business value and the value it will have for the customer.
- How would you describe the value of Mendix?
It is amazing to build something so quickly that you can show to your end user. I can actually change the app with their feedback in mind as they are watching. It is awesome to be able to show them the changes in real time right there and to see their reaction. To be able to do that is mind blowing for me and for the customer.
- How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
Mendix is a giant Lego box with reusable components that enable you to visually develop your application.
- Where do you go online to find information?
I look at the Mendix blogs, the Mendix developer site and the API documents from Mendix. When I have a question I end up on either the Mendix forum or stack overflow for the answer.
- What are your interests outside of work?
I’m a true geek and love technology and gadgets. I love to tinker with stuff like Raspberry PI and I love to game. It’s amazing how Raspberry PI and other IoT devices are taking off and disrupting the business world.