As you all know by now, Mendix is sincere in our goal to bring business and IT together. And that goal extends far beyond our own efforts, and is seen day-to-day by the community of rapid developers who bring apps to life.
In today’s rapid developer profile, we’re highlighting Marcel Groeneweg, Technical Consultant at Synobsys. Marcel has over 25 years of development experience across a number of platforms, languages and projects. Hear why he likes to develop in Mendix, and why after just one year in the platform, he’s an active community member, sharing advice and adding to our App Store.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have prior development experience?
I have been developing software for over 25 years now. Being almost an IT dinosaur, there was no practical IT education in my time. After finishing the equivalent of high school, I was given the opportunity to learn on the job as an IT operator. From there, I moved into programming, where I spent many years working with IBM products. I have been following courses throughout my IT career and have worked in a range of languages, from COBOL to Java.
2. How were you introduced to Mendix? What was your initial reaction?
My employer wanted to know whether Mendix would be a good choice for the company. I liked the platform immediately for the speed of development and also because Mendix manages all of the technical hassle of getting applications working.
Some experienced in programming may feel like they’re giving up control, but I disagree. Java can do anything – but then you have to do everything as well – you can’t take anything for granted in programming. In Mendix, your app will run. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to worry about technical details; if it runs on a local laptop, it will run in the cloud.
3. What was most helpful when learning Mendix?
The website and the Mendix Forum were great resources when getting started. Overall, Mendix is easy to learn and once you grasp the general idea, it takes a lot of tedious work off your hands.
For example, Mendix takes care of the database so that I can focus on defining the entities associated with it. There is a lot of room to be creative because Mendix can do a lot for you – but you need to reorient around the solution (rather than the technical components).
4. What inspired you to contribute to the app store and community?
Every great product needs a great community. When I first started to work in Mendix, I had many questions and received answers quickly which really helped. So now I’m happy to help where I can. I also like the extra challenge of making a component that isn’t available yet. I look for additional ways to satisfy the needs of the user and create widgets where needed.
For example, I noticed that if a web page is too long, the user may have a validation error that isn’t noticeable (because they don’t scroll to see the error). This came out of a testing issue. We came across something we didn’t expect to work as it did, and then created a widget, SetFocusOnError, to adjust the user experience.
5. What have you built in the app store?
My first widget was the pivot table, which takes a list of data and turns it into a pivot table, great for management level information and dashboards. I have also created a tree view widget, the ObjectBackupRestore module, and two groupbox helper widgets (put content in the header of a groupbox and collapse/expand all group boxes.
6. What advice do you have for other Mendix developers who wish to get involved in the community?
Just do it! The AppStoreWidgetBoilerplate is a widget template that will help get you started. It’s fun to create something and see others use it. It’s also great to receive feedback from the community which can then be used to improve or extend the widgets. And for those who have already built something that is not in the App Store, by all means share it. By sharing and reusing components, we will all be faster in our app development.
Also, the Mendix Forum offers a great way to give back and help. There are a lot of great questions to learn from and to share responses. I always try to reply. If it’s something that should be possible, I don’t mind trying to figure it out.
7. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
I can build in hours or days what used to take me weeks at least. Changing existing functionality has never been easier too. Mendix lets me focus on the business value and still allows me to dive into the details when I need to, or just want to.
8. How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
Fast application development without worrying about implementation details.
9. What are you interested in/passionate about outside of work?
Spending time with my wife and son. I really like bowling and going to the movies.