Mendix World 2012 was a defining moment in my life. Using one of the hottest delivery platforms out there is one thing. It is even far more enriching to engage the culture behind it. Behind the Business Modeler are the inspiring young individuals and minds who make it their work and duty to craft the kind of tools and methodologies that make being a business engineer a pioneering and pleasant experience.
At the Mendix World 2012 conference we chatted with various members of the Mendix community, corporate professionals, business men and technologists from all over the world. The conference had a TED-Talk flair about it with close to a 1000 attendees. We loved the keynotes delivered by Derek Roos, Johan den Haan, Arjen Hoekstra, Jouke Waleson and Arjan.
After hearing about all the amazing milestones on the roadmap for Mendix 5, Derek and I had a chance to sit down with 5 Mendix R&D wizards to interview them. That was the proverbial cherry on the cake. We walked away with some insights and the history behind developing the modeler. Personally, I don’t believe there is enough space to cover everything in a single blog post, so I will venture for the sake of brevity to give a synopsis from what we took away from the interview.
Arjan – The Taoist of modeling
Father and an idealist, Arjan joined Mendix during 2007. He drinks tea, has a sense of humor and is an Apple fan. He is the eldest of the business modeler triumvirate and is known as the weeping developer, whose tears wipe away bad design and makes the world a better place. He helped progress Mendix from a Java system to the Microflows we know and love today. Since then, Arjan has moved on and is currently developing the Ajax-stack of Mendix and hope he will apply some of his magic there too.
Benny – He who smiles
Yes, Benny wins the award for smiling. Maybe he knows something we don’t but Benny is a positive guy, and is Arjan’s old Modeler partner. He sees himself as a realist and also joined Mendix during 2007 and loves the book “Wheel of Time”. I cannot overstate his good attitude and his willingness to be helpful.
Remy – Best Dave Grohl look alike
Remy is a youngster, but if you think he’s wet behind the ears you’ll be surprised. Remy has some experience at Google is a sound Agile Methodology purist. He advocates by the book practices and helps offset some pragmatic members in the dynamic. He is the 3rd Modeler man, and since he has worked at Google he is what we call an anti-Apple fan-boy. We still like you Remy.
Edit: I didn’t have my facts quite right. Remy received a job opportunity from Google, but decided it would be cooler to work for Mendix. Sorry about that Remy.
Sjoerd – The Rocket Scientist
Yes, you heard right. Sjoerd is a Rocket Scientist who decided he would rather apply his rocket-building skills in taking business engineers to the moon rather than astronauts. Thanks Sjoerd. He is an interesting individual who once he gets going makes you wonder if he isn’t plugged directly into the internet. A realist who is able to converse on a million topics to incredible detail and depth, you can’t say he doesn’t have an opinion.
Robert van ‘t Hof – A tall order
No, not the tennis player. As far as I could judge, Robert was the tallest of our company. A lot of people in Netherlands are, but some are taller than others. Some say he is so tall that he experiences his own weather system up there. Robert is a reserved guy and works as the Community manager for Mendix in the Hague. Joined Mendix round about 2009/10 and sees himself as a realist too.
The Nuclear core
The R&D department is small, but is steadily growing larger. So far the core could remain small, but as is expected with a growing business, the core of devs are growing but they are growing organically. We asked them a few questions around leadership and they believe that heated confrontations with merit-based arguments are good. Between the mix of idealists and realists you’ll find that ideas are bigger than egos and everybody respects that.
XKCD, Eric Lippert and Fabulous adventures of Coding are amongst the literature they enjoy. Some even read South African novels, which makes us proud. They are a mix of C# and Java developers, but use far more than that.
Our overall impressions were that this core group of geeks, are sound and solid. Their focus is on a polish and product; not short-term gains. They really are passionate about what they do and learn from their own past mistakes, and more importantly from others’ experience, like Apple, Amazon and Google. They gave us an account of when its time to “kill your darlings“; the story about the original Mendix 3-Beta and how Agile Methodologies require more discipline than Waterfall and why focussed targeted releases are paramount.
Johan Den Haan expressed his faith in R&D team and told us afterwards that he feels very confident and proud in them. His engineers take a lot of initiative and are highly innovative individuals.
Special thanks to Dexx for my MxGeek T-Shirt, Michel a fellow Chesterton-fan, Dennis the DJ, Martjin, Jornt, Fedor and everybody else we met at MendixWorld’12. Hope to see you all this year again.