Mendix World 2021, claimed to be the virtual assembly of low-coders, Mendix, a Siemens business and global provider of low-code application development for the enterprise, announced platform enhancements designed to accelerate delivery of high-value solutions for the digital-first economy.
The newly-enhanced capabilities of the Mendix low-code platform reportedly enable all makers to orchestrate the next-wave of intelligent solutions for the enterprise and includes the introduction of ‘business events,’ new investments in artificial intelligence (AI) for both makers and end users, and next-generation smart services and workflows.
“Mendix Makers are under continuous pressure to go faster. Even after adopting low-code to accelerate development, teams face increased expectations for software delivery,” says Johan den Haan, chief technology officer. “The direction we are taking with the platform is to shift makers from always writing software from scratch to more easily finding and connecting to the data and components they need to assemble solutions.”
Data Hub 2.0 adds business events as first-class citizens
A highlight of den Haan’s Mendix World announcements was a significant set of enhancements to Data Hub, first introduced at last year’s event as “low-code for integration.” New functionality greatly expands the platform’s ability to discover, create, and change data from any system or application. Enhanced data cataloging makes it easier to connect, filter, and utilise massive amounts of data from different platforms, data lakes, and data warehouses across the enterprise’s landscape.
Another key capability den Haan announced was the introduction of business events. As searchable entities within its catalog, business events will be elevated into native, plug-and-play elements that can be used in Studio Pro within any application model.
Adding business events enables Mendix developers to deliver applications more easily, particularly for use cases where end-user satisfaction is paramount, such as new customer onboarding, payment processing, and support ticketing.
“Business is event-driven by nature, with thousands of crucial, discrete events taking place on a daily basis,” says, den Haan. “A full view of all business events in the enterprise, coupled with the ability to manage and trigger event-driven applications, is a key ingredient in automating business processes in a truly intelligent way.”
Mendix also announced a new connector framework for Data Hub which will offer a mechanism for easily connecting to both off-the-shelf and custom data sources throughout the enterprise. Key connectors highlighted by den Haan included data sources common across industries, such as Dropbox, Slack, Microsoft Sharepoint and Dynamics, Twilio, and Salesforce. Additionally, industry-specific connectivity for SAP and Siemens Teamcentre data sources was announced.
AI for development and applications
Showcasing the Mendix low-code platform’s pioneering ability to scale rapid application development, day two of Mendix World featured two key AI-related announcements. First, den Haan introduced the third bot in the Mendix Assist suite: Page Bot. The Page Bot guides software developers in building UI and UX, based on patterns learned from hundreds of millions of anonymised data points by Mendix developers.
This newest addition to Mendix Assist will be available in Studio and Studio Pro, making real-time design and styling recommendations to develop compelling, consumer-grade UI experiences guided by best practices.
Page Bot joins a faster, enhanced version of Mendix Assist Logic Bot that provides next-step logic assistance for developers writing microflows, and Performance Bot that ensures applications follow architectural patterns that optimise for performance.
For organisations looking to incorporate custom machine learning models into their Mendix-developed apps, den Haan also announced the Mendix Machine Learning (ML) Kit. This is a key capability when business processes and end-user satisfaction rely on specialised machine learning models, such as ones that execute over a proprietary data set or key off a custom parameter.
With the ML Kit, Mendix is applying low-code’s abstraction and automation to the often complex and cumbersome integration of AI models. Eschewing the typical complexities of REST services and APIs, the ML Kit supports drag-and-drop of machine learning models, with automatic translation and execution. Says, den Haan, “Assembling purpose-built, relevant apps becomes easier for developers, and the applications themselves provide more value to the end users.”
Smart appServices lead a new wave of intelligent capabilities
The Mendix commitment to innovation centred on intelligent automation extends beyond simply platform capabilities. As part of its significant investments in the ecosystem, Mendix also announced a new suite of Smart AppServices that provide developers a head start in assembling complex applications.
These services deliver an extremely strong foundation for digitalising business workflows, with capabilities centred around document data capture (e.g., processing invoices and receipts), cognitive services (e.g., language and sentiment detection), and messaging (e.g., email and Microsoft Teams).
AppServices are flexible and accessible capabilities that can be used to extend existing applications, enhance solutions acquired through the Mendix Marketplace, or as services that are deployed with just a thin application layer.
To bolster an organisation’s ability to deliver intelligent automation, Mendix also announced new workflow templates for business processes that are designed to be used with the Mendix Workflow Editor as part of any Mendix application. With workflows for common business activities across HR, finance, and marketing, these templates are designed to further empower business users to participate in the development of software that enables them to do their jobs in this digital-first environment.
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