UPDATED 09:00 EDT / SEPTEMBER 08 2021
by Maria Deutscher
Mendix Technology BV today debuted new artificial intelligence features and other enhancements for its low-code development platform that it says will enable companies to build software more efficiently.
Mendix has been operating as a unit of industrial equipment giant Siemens AG since a $700 million acquisition in 2018. The low-code specialist says its platform lowers the cost of building applications by reducing the amount of custom code that a firm’s software engineers must write. According to Mendix, a second benefit is that development can be completed faster because there’s less manual work involved. 
The first new AI feature the company debuted today is a tool called Page Bot. It provides software teams with recommendations on how to design a new application’s user interface. Mendix says that Page Bot generates suggestions based on learnings extracted from hundreds of millions of anonymized data points collected from software projects that customers carried out using its platform.
The other major AI-focused feature addition is called ML Kit. It’s designed to simplify the task of incorporating machine learning models into applications. 
Companies are increasingly adding AI models to their applications to perform tasks that are difficult or impossible to accomplish with traditional code workflows. Thanks to the numerous AI development tools on the market, neural networks aren’t as difficult to build and train as they once were. But integrating a neural network into an application’s code base remains a fairly complicated process. 
Mendix’s newly launched ML Kit tool is aimed at simplifying the task. It automates a significant portion of the manual code editing involved in integrating an AI model into an application, allowing developers to carry out the process using drag-and-drop commands. The company says simplifying the process provides benefits for both software teams and users. 
“Assembling purpose-built, relevant apps becomes easier for developers, and the applications themselves provide more value to the end users,” said Mendix Chief Technology Officer Johan den Haan, who announced the feature during the company’s virtual Mendix World 2021 event.
Alongside the AI updates, the executive shared details about several other new capabilities intended to streamline additional application development tasks.
Mendix now offers access to what it calls Smart AppServices, pre-packaged software features that each perform a specific task. The first features in the lineup cover common use cases such as processing invoices, sending emails and evaluating customer sentiment. Developers can incorporate Smart AppServices into their software projects to reduce the number of application capabilities that they have to implement from scratch. 
Taking the concept of ready-to-use software building blocks a step further, Mendix debuted a number of application templates alongside Smart AppServices that focus on automating HR, finance and marketing workflows. “Makers are empowered to accelerate their solution development by building on a foundation of best practices available and ready to be used in their apps,” den Haan said.
A third major set of updates is rolling out for an existing component of Mendix’s platform that it calls Data Hub. It’s a tool for importing data into applications from external sources.
Mendix has added a connector framework to Data Hub that it says will enable companies to pull information more easily from external sources into their applications for processing. The platform also allows developers to search the incoming information for business events of interest. Mendix says software teams can now more easily create applications that carry out an action in response to a specific event, such when a customer submits a technical support request.
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