Low code and no code application development platforms have become a growing part of business user’s toolkits.

For a few years now there have emerged a variety of tools and toolsets that deliver a powerful set of development features in a graphical environment. So if a vendor was to announce a “new and powerful maker movement” would this strike fear into the heart of the CIO? After all, until recently, many of the leading tools and platforms were aimed at business users.

Whatever the initial positioning of these platforms, vendors are making it clear that the real goal is enterprise applications development and deployment (AD&D). A recent Forrester report echoes this sentiment and notes that many of the leaders are clearly moving to solid enterprise-level support. Indeed, the potential for collaborative, agile development with a strong and flexible architecture may bring developers, business users and potentially even customers together in ways we’ve been seeking for some time.

So when Siemens-owned Mendix announced “a new and powerful maker movement” aimed at the enterprise application space at its 2019 Mendix World, enterprise developers, architects and IT leadership are taking notice.

Mendix already has impressive credentials in the enterprise space. Owned by Siemens, partnering with IBM and have a strong offering in SAP gives credibility to Mendix’s offerings. The earlier mentioned Forrester report placed Mendix as one of the leaders in the low code development platforms for AD&D professionals. The other four were Salesforce, Microsoft, OutSystems and Kony – all serious contenders in their own right.

In a world where we are critically short of application developers and software engineers, “low-code” tools offer a compelling potential to accelerate application development. While they might not eliminate all coding, these platforms promise to vastly increase productivity while at the same time enhancing collaboration between business user and enterprise developer. Mendix’s new offering promises to “empower all: from citizen developers to professional developers.”

Mendix’s Spring 19 release continues its pursuit of dominance in the SAP world, with a promise of native integration with SAP, allowing “Mendix-built apps to run directly on SAP HANA in-memory.” Other key features include:

  • expanded containerization support which Mendix claims will allow Mendix to run on any cloud
  • true native mobile development capabilities, which Medix claims produces the “first and only true native mobile low-code apps”
  • integration with IoT devices which can translate “lower-level data into valuable analytics and predictive models driven by machine learning and AI”
  • 2nd generation of Medix’s AI engine “Mendix Assist”

“We have three words for anybody who wants to create the digital future for their enterprise,” said Derek Roos, Mendix founder and CEO. “‘Go make it!”

Those of us who have been in pursuit of the “holy grail” of low or no-code systems can be forgiven for proceeding cautiously. There have been many frameworks or platforms that have shown great promise only to implode under the pressures of real-time enterprise demands for performance, support and increasingly – security. But the allure continues and not just because of the looming crisis of a developer talent shortage. Even more compelling is the promise of truly iterative development which focuses on the user experience and not the mechanics required to support the syntax or limitations of a development platform.

With the impressive corporate partnerships, the analyst’s comments and the end user reviews, these new platforms are worthy of further examination – something we’ll be doing over the next weeks and months. And with the ability to “try before you buy” on Mendix’s site (and others we presume) it is time to get ahead of this before it turns up in some line of business application.

As I noted, we’ll be looking at this area in some depth in the coming months. If you have stories, advice or comments, please contact me at jlove@itwc.ca