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Globus — Objectivity’s Starter App for Mendix

Technology

May 6, 2021 - 6 minutes read

1630 Blog Post Globus Objectivitys Starter App For Mendix 416X300
Wojciech Machniak Senior UI Developer

Wojciech Machniak an experienced Senior UI Developer at Objectivity, specialised in low-code platforms and solutions. He teaches his co-workers from Rapid Development Guild how to create layouts and write in proper styles. He participates in creating widgets and extensions in low-code platforms and shares his knowledge with others at various conferences and meetups. 

See all Wojciech's posts
1553 Devops Whitepaper News Section 416X300 EN

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Creating a modern and functional UI is an important part of every software project, and it’s a process that usually involves several people. At Objectivity, that’s no different. Essentially, the path starts with UX Designers building mock-ups, which then go to Visual Designers who create graphics, and finally, the design is coded by UI Developers. This way, the end user can experience a convenient and eye-pleasing UI, where every functionality is considered, and every detail is designed with great attention. Usually, we apply a similar process to all our low-code projects.

A few years ago, when were just starting to work in Mendix, our platform knowledge level was significantly lower than now. We weren’t sure which UI components are used most often, and we didn’t know how to use all the ones in the Mendix Marketplace in our client projects. Initially, the UX Designers had difficulty determining what are the constraints of the out-of-the box UI components. They needed a single place with overview of all components’ capabilities and appearance.

Working with low-code, we often need to prepare demo applications for our customers in just a few days. This way we can demonstrate the Mendix' capabilities and show the client how this technology could quickly solve their business problems. The short development time requires efficient UI development to adjust the application to the client's brand. We also noticed, that with every new project this process had to be repeated. About half of the same code had to be rewritten, and that’s exactly what low-code development aims to avoid.

It’s also important to mention those with no experience in application design who use Mendix on a daily basis. The Atlas UI framework provides basic styles, but beginners may struggle with more advanced topics, what manifests in the number of enquiries on the Mendix forum. Additionally, there are projects where no UI developer is involved, and this role is assumed by regular developers.

All these challenges led us to the conclusion that we need to standardise and facilitate UI development for Mendix applications.

What Is Globus?

Globus is a library of the most popular UI components of the Atlas UI framework with a refreshed new look that are ready to use in Mendix. Low-code development is fast by definition, but Globus facilitates professional UI development even further with the prepared styles. It enables Mendix developers to fully focus on delivering functionality.

globus theme

It’s also a set of building blocks that can be used by different teams to design the UI. Developers don’t have to create new solutions from scratch for mock-ups and graphic designs. Instead, Globus uses ready-made components, which has a big impact on the application development speed in the later stages.

Who Can Use Globus?

Several groups of specialists may benefit from leveraging Globus in their projects:

  • Mendix Developers can use Globus to create the client projects without the help of UI experts, so they can focus solely on creating functionality. They don’t have to worry about how the application looks, as the basic styles have already been prepared.

  • UX Designers now have a place where they can go and check which controls are included in the framework and how each control behaves with sample data. There’s the possibility to test them, and use the acquired knowledge to prepare mock-ups.

  • UI Designers can get an overview of each Globus component, quickly adjust the components to prepare graphic design for a customer. It should be mentioned here that Globus design can be used in many applications, you will often only have to change colours and add the logo.

  • UI Developers don't have to prepare the same CSS styles for every project, so the application starts looking good in a shorter time. Thanks to having base styles for all components, UI Developers can focus on design details and dedicated client solutions. It’s important to remember that unlike Mendix Developers, UI Developers write the code.

  • Business Analysts can use the Globus demo to gain knowledge about the elements included in the Atlas UI framework and see them in action. This knowledge makes it easier for them to communicate with the team and the client.globus

 

Globus Versions

The basic version of Globus contains the most commonly used components in Mendix development. They have all been tested on mobile devices and are fully compliant with the principles of RWD (Responsive Web Design). The basic package includes the following elements:

  • Widgets — alerts, badges and labels, buttons, checkboxes, data grid, groupboxes, list view as grid (including a RWD solution), multiselect, radio buttons, switches, tabs, tables (including a RWD solution), text fields, tooltips and typography.

  • Building Blocks — breadcrumbs, cards, forms, headers, wizards

  • Other — sidebar layout, top bar layout, login page, SVG icons

The components listed above allow you to build almost any UI in Mendix. We have decided to publish the basic version of Globus in the Mendix Marketplace, and it’s available to download for free.

The extended version has the same elements as the basic version but has been upgraded with additional components, including the components written by our Mendix Developers. In the future, we would like to extend this version with predefined templates (popular layouts which aren’t included in the Mendix out-of-the-box, containing frequently used UI patterns, designed by our Design Team).

How We Use Globus at Objectivity

Globus is primarily used as a starter app for all Mendix projects we deliver at Objectivity. We created a starting point in the Mendix cloud, where we host the application with all its components and styles. Any Objectivity employee with a Mendix account can use the blank application template and start working on creating functionality. We use Globus as a base for starting most new projects. Of course, some clients have more demanding UI requirements, when that’s the case, we adapt the styles to their brand or create the entire design from scratch.

Additionally, Globus is our in-house style guide, which has two functions. It’s a demo app where every employee can see how each Mendix control looks and works. It’s most often used by our UX, UI Designers and developers. It’s also the starting point for our internal apps that we prepare for various Objectivity departments.

globus mendix

We also use Globus a lot when creating prototypes for our clients. It only takes us a few days to create applications that are later presented to our clients. The previously prepared style guide significantly reduces the time spent on writing CSS styles. It’s especially important when time is of the essence. It’s also a great solution for start-ups, where the client's budget is limited and they want to avoid investing in dedicated design. We’re able to provide them with appealing design for free, without extra effort.

Our portfolio also includes several Globus-developed demo applications that demonstrate the capabilities of Mendix to encourage our customers to invest in this technology.

We are still extending our starter app, and extending it with new elements that may be useful in future projects. We can provide our customers with a complete solution that looks good and consistent. The biggest problem with the widgets downloaded from the Mendix Marketplace is the fact that they’re created by different authors and it’s clearly visible in their designs. UI developers have to adapt these controls to the client's design every time, which is a time-consuming task, especially when there are many of them. In the extended version of Globus, we reduced this problem to a minimum.

Summary

Globus is a versatile solution for most companies that develop applications using the Mendix technology. It provides an easy way to match the client’s branding by simply choosing the right colours (we prepared global theme variables to change the branding using SCSS variables) and adding logotypes in the Mendix Studio Pro. For standard applications, you can reduce the time spent on the UI development by about 60-80%, depending on the project. Your apps will look fresh and modern, and your customers will be happy with the result in a much shorter time.

It’s important to note that customisation may be more difficult in bespoke solutions, where significant changes to the layout may be needed, but Globus still remains a great facilitation of the project work. You can add your own styles to the app, and create your own style guide, but styling skills and CSS/SCSS knowledge will be necessary. You can of course use out-of-the-box styling if that’s your preference. Moreover, you can add your favourite components, but we support only the ones we mentioned earlier.

Feel free to visit the Mendix Marketplace and check out the basic version of Globus. We’d love it if you leave your feedback regarding this solution.

1553 Devops Whitepaper News Section 416X300 EN
Wojciech Machniak Senior UI Developer

Wojciech Machniak an experienced Senior UI Developer at Objectivity, specialised in low-code platforms and solutions. He teaches his co-workers from Rapid Development Guild how to create layouts and write in proper styles. He participates in creating widgets and extensions in low-code platforms and shares his knowledge with others at various conferences and meetups. 

See all Wojciech's posts

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