[TSTIL] Mendix WebModeler v0.1

[ This is a part of "The Software That I Love", a series of posts about Software that I created or had a small part in ]

2012 - Mendix WebModeler v0.1

Mendix was (and is) a fantastic platform. Most Mendix developers use the Desktop Modeler / Mendix Studio Pro to create apps. Back in 2013 this was the only option. I had a different vision for the product. Maybe because I had no love for Windows apps, maybe because my stack was the browser, maybe because of the actual user needs. In any case, I wanted a web-based app creator. No installers, no friction. It would need a lot of difficult front-end engineering and a complete revamp of the codebase.  Think of how much effort Microsoft had to put in Visual Studio Code. Add another re-architecture for client-server and you get the idea.  No one within Mendix was crazy enough to try it.

Being young and unhindered by wisdom or experience, I spent a couple of nights on creating v0.1. It was a PHP + jQuery based application that could view the microflows and models for a Mendix project. This logic comes from an MPR file. This is/was a SQLite database that contains all modules, logic and forms. I loaded the Mendix Cloud MPR file, put it on a password protected server and sent the link around to the CTO, CEO and some other people.

I remember watching the live server logs, seeing them play with the prototype. At some point I saw an IP from the US. That was Derek, the CEO. Boy that was exciting. I had a chat with him a couple of weeks later, and if memory serves, he said something like this. "The web modeler is clearly the future. We need this but more urgently we need something like a sandbox environment so people can try Mendix for free and show their apps to their colleagues." We got there too, but that's a story for later.

About a year later we started a dedicated team for the Web Modeler. I was not in there, neither was any code from my prototype, but I like to think I helped shape the vision and showed that it was possible to bring Mendix to the web.

The Web Modeler needed a lot of serious front-end engineering indeed. Michel Weststrate was one of the main engineers and he created MobX (then Mobservable) in the process. It took years to mature, but nowadays the Web Modeler / Mendix Studio is a serious part of the Mendix ecosystem and I'm proud to have been there.


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