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My Top 5 Mendix Widgets for Speeding Application Development

/ May 7, 2014

For my inaugural post on the Mendix blog, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite widgets. I’m on Mendix’s professional services team out of our Boston office, and I’ve developed numerous apps in multiple verticals. The various widgets in the Mendix App Store have been instrumental in adding extra functionalities and features, without reinventing the wheel each time.

An App Store with something for everybody

One of the great things about Mendix is how our awesome community has grown and helped contribute to our App Store. The App Store contains lots of modules and widgets that offer tremendous value to developers and business users. For beginners, I highly recommend checking out our example apps to start working on and playing with. For more experienced developers, the App Store is a goldmine of pre-built functionalities, business and technical components such as the email module, login buttons, audit trail and many others.

My favorite part of the App Store content are the widgets; with a click of a button, you can add various functionalities to your app, such as treeviews, form loaders, fusion charts, Google Maps and anything your heart desires. Furthermore, if you are a pro at JavaScript, you are highly encouraged to incorporate your changes into the widget and get published! You can easily find more documentation on how to start with widgets here. Out of the many widgets I have used and tweaked, there are a couple that really stand out for their unique functionality and capabilities.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to my top 5 favorite widgets.

1. Google Maps Widget

The first widget that I worked with was Google Maps. During the Mendix introductory course in my first week at Mendix, I remember vividly incorporating Google maps into my project. It was really impressive how in a matter of minutes, without any prior knowledge of widgets or even Mendix, I created an easy representation of locations. I could input an address and Voila – I immediately got a visual representation of the locations. The icing on the cake is the mobile version of this widget.

Figure 1. A screenshot of my first Mendix app representing all Mendix Officesworldwide
Figure 2 More detailed view of specific locations

2. Login Form

I literally cannot count the number of times I have used this widget in my own projects or seen it on other web and mobile applications! The widget allows for the developer to add the login functionality on any page they want. Furthermore, it allows for more flexibility in logging in – such as automatic login by remembering the user account and flexibility on the behavior when the user forgets their passwords.

3. Feedback

Imagine this: as an end user you are going from page to page in your company’s application – what happens if you have an idea for a cool new feature? Or if you have any questions on how the application works? Or worst case scenario you run into a bug? In the old days, you would file a ticket in another system and wait and wait for some developer to maybe see the bug and maybe a week later (at best) fix it. Well, ain’t nobody got time for that!

That’s why we developed the feedback widget and integrated it into Mendix’s project management module. Our feedback widget is the most useful widget in the agile development process. It truly bridges the gap between developers and end users. The minute the end user provides the feedback and it’s accepted – the developers will see it in their modeling environment.

4. Help Text

The help text viewer adds help buttons throughout your application to help users navigate and to answer any questions they might have. The widget is great for guiding users throughout complicated information, and can do wonders for new users taking their first steps (or clicks).

Figure 3. Check out the helpful text!

5. Lightbox

Lightbox is one of the more recent additions to the App Store widgets. It allows the users to enlarge images by adding thumbnails of the original images to the desired page; users can click on images and it will automatically enlarge the image on the current page. The widget is helpful when there are web-galleries and the users want to zoom in on images.

Figure 4. Just kidding – it wasn’t that awful!

Now that you’ve read about a few of my favorite widgets, tell me what you think in the comments below. Did I miss any of your favorite widgets?

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