Mendix, an application platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider, announced the launch of a new social collaboration project management space, sprintr.

Social Project Management

Sprintr does not have the administrative overhead of heavyweight traditional tools. You know the ones -- lots of checkboxes, rows and numbers that you aren’t quite sure what they mean. Projects in sprintr are more about team collaboration and have a social media feel.

Users organize work into projects within the sprintr portal. Within a project, team activities are tracked using the common agile concept of a “user story.” Teams prioritize which user stories to deliver based on value or other project specific factors. Project pages allow team members to stay up-to-date, share content and engage in discussions on the project wall that might remind some users of Facebook or other social networks.

In addition to user stories, work can be further organized into sprints, hence the product’s name, sprintr. Sprintr also supports milestones and releases. When changes are made to these elements, the system sends out notifications to the users to ensure all team members are aware of changes. This solves a common communication challenge on projects, lack of communications.

Visually, sprints, are displayed on  project pages with collapsible menus to permit quicker access to user stories. This improves productivity because user stories are the actual work unit and sprints just group them into delivery sets.

Teams that have adopted an agile delivery methodology or simply want to work more collaboratively should definitely take a look at the new offering, which integrates with Mendix’s PaaS platform, Mendix Agile Business Platform.

Mendix PaaS Platform

CMSWire spoke with Paul Campaniello, VP of Global Marketing, regarding Mendix’s larger platform and market position. Campaniello described Mendix’s platform as an “agile application delivery platform that allows application time to market to be reduced by at least 5 times.” However, I could find only sample data to support this assertion.

The Agile Business Platform is a rapid development tool that allows non-technical users and business engineers with deep domain knowledge to create applications without writing code. Users model the domain, define business rules and specify workflow, and like a modern day version of Willy Wonka’s factory, something magical results -- a working application.

A complete list of features is available on the Mendix site.

Mendix's Portability

Mendix's Companiello said,

We are proprietary, but not closed.”

However, some customers may not agree.  Mendix’s platform allows rapid application development and data is accessible, but the application core is created using a proprietary domain specific language that “generates” the application.  It is possible to extend the framework with custom code in Java. What are the implications? If you decide to no longer leverage Mendix, then the application cannot be migrated to another PaaS or on-premise server.  The data, however, can be.

Prospective buyers should also be aware that the modeling tool for the application does not use a standard notation, although it is similar to UML. Potential users will need to perform their own cost benefit analysis of these platform constraints. For many, the allure of rapid delivery of opportunistic applications will outweigh any concerns about long-term portability.