Are you looking for a rapid application delivery platform to transform how you deliver modern web and mobile applications and accelerate digital initiatives? There are a few application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) offerings that have emerged as alternatives to traditional application development approaches. Salesforce’s Lightning (formerly Force.com) platform is one of them.
On the surface, Salesforce Lightning and Mendix may seem comparable, since both platforms offer support for model-driven development. There are fundamental differences, however, that make Mendix the preferred choice for organizations looking to drive digital transformation with one integrated low-code platform to improve customer engagement, increase employee productivity and streamline business operations.
What challenge are you looking to address?
When evaluating rapid application delivery platforms like Mendix and Salesforce Lightning, first ask yourself what challenge you are looking to address. Then assess whether Mendix or Lightning will best help you achieve your goals. If you take that deeper dive, you’ll notice that while both platforms offer some similar functionality, the vision and philosophy that drive the companies and their respective product strategies are very different.
The approach of Salesforce is to offer a high-productivity platform, Lightning Platform, and a high-control coding platform, Heroku, under the App Cloud label. Despite being marketed as one proposition, they are two very distinct platforms for specific use cases. Lightning is apt for internal applications focused on employee productivity (B2E). With Heroku, developers can build customer-facing apps (B2C), but must use traditional coding to do so. So Salesforce’s high-productivity offering is limited.
If you’re just looking to build internal employee productivity apps extending Salesforce’s CRM application, Lightning Platform will do the job. But if you are considering adopting a low-code platform, chances are that you’re looking to cover many more use cases than that, in which case you’ll need an alternative to Lightning.
- You had a single platform to build B2E, B2B and B2C web and mobile applications 6 times faster?
- You could bring business and IT together, facilitating the collaboration and short feedback cycles required to increase your project success rate?
- You had one environment to manage the complete application lifecycle, enabling not only rapid time to market but fast, easy change?
- You could start small and seamlessly grow your applications in size and complexity, eventually managing a large portfolio?
- You could benefit from a simple and transparent pricing model, without governor limits that would compromise architecture or present unexpected additional charges if limits are exceeded?
- You didn’t need to worry about scalability, high-availability and security as they’re all taken care of?
- You had the freedom to run your applications in your (private) cloud of choice or even on premises?
- Your platform vendor coupled its technology with a proven, best practices-based methodology to help you execute on your digital goals?
Mendix is the platform to drive digital innovation, enabling business and IT to turn ideas into applications faster and easier than any other approach. Open and enterprise-class, our platform combines business-IT collaboration, visual development, multi-cloud deployment and full application lifecycle support. As a result, cross-functional teams are able to rapidly deliver web, mobile and smart apps and adapt to changing business requirements.
Mendix vs. Salesforce Lightning at a Glance
Despite Lightning’s (formerly Force.com) focus on high productivity, the platform lacks support of some critical capabilities required to build mission-critical applications and manage larger portfolios of digital initiatives. Mendix, in contrast, combines feature breadth, outstanding developer support and state-of-the-art open platform technology with an approach that facilitates active involvement of business stakeholders in application projects.
Let’s have a look at the major differences at a glance.
Application Use Cases
Using a low-code platform should not restrict you to one particular use case (e.g. employee productivity apps).
Mendix supports the full range of developing multi-channel applications for B2E, B2B and B2C scenarios, from simple to the most complex.
Lightning is suitable for straightforward applications in the employee productivity domain only. For building advanced B2B and B2C applications, Salesforce offers its coding platform Heroku.
Agile Project Management
The application lifecycle starts when someone has an idea for an application.
Being able to define a project, and manage scope and progress in a single environment is key.
Mendix offers built-in agile project management and capture of user stories. The user stories are tracked throughout the entire lifecycle of the application.
Lightning doesn’t provide tools to manage projects, scope and progress.
Visual development boosts productivity significantly. Moreover, it allows business stakeholders to participate and deliver first-time right.
The benefit of visual development is achieved if all application components can be visually modeled.
Mendix’s signature modeling environment supports visual development of the application’s Domain, Business Logic, UIs and Access rights.
Lightning does not support visual development of application logic. Business logic needs to be defined in Apex, a proprietary coding language, which slows down productivity and excludes business stakeholders from active participation.
Effectively managing all design artifacts is critical to keep your application projects in control.
Mendix offers extensive support for revision control of all design artifacts, including code extensions and versioned APIs for component-based development.
Mendix supports automatic branching & merging which is essential for distributed development and efficient deployment of hot fixes.
Lightning has limited support for source control out of the box. For advanced development, you need to set up your own local source control system and synchronize your Force.com environment with your local system.
Building apps to power digital initiatives requires robust integration with your existing IT landscape and external services.
The Mendix Connector Kit offers powerful integration options with native REST support and advanced mapping of XML and JSON messages.
Connectors that are based on code, leveraging a 3rd party SDK, can be included easily as native drag-and-drop elements in Microflows, Mendix’s visual model for application logic.
Access to external databases can be modeled easily, without writing a single line of code.
Through support of the oData protocol, you can feed Mendix application data into your BI and Analytics tools with a single click.
Lightning supports calling REST, SOAP and JSON services, as well as exposing application functionality as a web service through scripting in Apex, which is more time consuming and difficult for citizen developers.
If you can build applications with significantly higher levels of productivity, you may end up with a challenge for maintainability.
We all know that the cost of defects rises exponentially depending on the stage in the application lifecycle. So you need the tools to manage this pro-actively.
Mendix offers unique add-on tools to get a grip on application quality and reliability:
Lightning supports unit level testing through Apex scripts only. Salesforce doesn’t offer tools to analyze and optimize performance.
Deployment flexibility allows you to run your applications in your cloud of choice, depending on your needs. And to port your apps seamlessly across public cloud, (virtual) private cloud or on premises.
Mendix is based on Cloud Foundry, the world’s largest open source platform project, and runs with 1-click deployment on the public Mendix Cloud or any Cloud Foundry-based private cloud such as IBM Cloud, Pivotal and SAP Hana.
Applications are seamlessly portable across clouds.
Mendix runs on premises too.
With Lightning you’re locked in to the Salesforce cloud, without any possibility to run your applications elsewhere.
Rapid application delivery of advanced digital initiatives requires an architecture that takes full advantage of cloud characteristics for provisioning, resource management, scalability and high availability, and a portal for self-service management.
Mendix has a cloud-native stateless architecture, optimized to run applications in modern container technology with a small-footprint runtime that is fully scalable.
Mendix does not apply any application limits, such as a number of API calls and objects, to avoid ‘noisy neighbor’ issues as applications run in isolated containers.
Mendix applications are Highly Available (HA) by default with self-service options for vertical and horizontal scaling, cloud security services.
Salesforce Lightning has a cloud native architecture, but since all customers are on a multi-tenant ‘shared everything’ environment, it offers limited self-service control options.
Application limits are applied to avoid ‘noisy neighbor’ issues.
Driving Digital Transformation with Mendix
We’re proud and passionate to offer the most comprehensive enterprise-class platform for rapid application delivery. At the same time, we know your biggest challenge driving digital innovation is not technology, but leading change.
That’s why we established our Digital Execution Practice. We’ve taken our vast experience in guiding top brands and defined a roadmap to help customers execute on their digital goals. As we work collaboratively, your team will learn the processes, best practices and technology to successfully drive digital transformation. From Start to Structure to Scale, we help you lead the change required to digitize your business. Step by step.