With the launch of Mendix 7 in 2017, the first version of the Web Modeler of Mendix was announced. The Web Modeler is designed to eliminate any potential friction involved in engaging business users in the design and creation of apps through the traditional desktop modeler. The desktop modeler is used by more advanced Mendix Engineers that use the full scope of the Mendix platform. It can be a bit overwhelming for the business or a designer working on a prototype for an app.
This year Mendix released a new BETA version of the Web modeler and as a part of the BETA test all Mendix MVP’s (Bart Poelmans for Bizzomate) were asked to invite business users to help Mendix test the UX of the Web modeler. In a period of a few weeks, they invited 5 business users to challenge the developers assumptions about how the modeler should work. They felt interviews and observation would be a better method, than the traditional questionnaire.
Ideally testers did not have any technical background and no previous web or desktop modeler experience. I volunteered! I did my Mendix Rapid Developer course and exam over 2 years ago. I do get to see a lot of the apps our guys design and create for our customers and not a day goes by that I don’t see an impressive data model or microflow on a screen next to me. But after my exam, I have only been an end users and sales person for Mendix apps.
As a true lab rat, I was placed in a room and monitored closely while I went through the comprehensive 5 minute Mendix crash course and started to do the exercises. A test engineer and UX expert, holding a notepad, watched my every move and asked me questions while I hovered over buttons, dragged and dropped, moved stuff around and selected options. “Why did you double click that, what did you expect would happen?”, “Why did you hesitate there, was is unclear?” “what do you think that button does, makes sense?” and “Did you understand that info message when it appears?”
Within two hours I performed a set of exercises in an simple existing app. I recreated some functionality and created new dialogs and buttons from scratch. With nothing more than the 5 minute intro, I found it pretty easy to use. By using various ready-made templates and simple self-explanatory buttons I found my way quite easily and it is really suitable to create a app prototype in hours, rather than days. I don’t feel it is would be a requirement to use the Web Modeler without any form of training, so I assume that after an hour demo, just about anyone would be good to go to build a prototype. I felt I touched quite a lot of functionality and there was a lot more, so the Web Modeler should not stop you from building more than just mock-ups, you can actually build a real app.
I can’t help to be curious about what a full blown MX desktop modeler user thinks of it, but as the goal is to engage business users in building apps? Mendix is on the right track!
The goal is to, after this high level UX test, to involve end-users in testing more specific areas of the web modeler. I hope to be able to join the test again to see how the Web modeler will evolve.
If you would like to join the test? Mendix is still looking for business user candidates, you can sign up here.