im_004426.jpg

What's new at MuleSoft?

If you read my last blog post on May's MuleSoft Summit, you'll remember that I told you I got a sneak peek at MuleSoft's roadmap.  

Well, that functionality has now been released.

On July 29th, MuleSoft's Crowd release went live. It seemed like a long wait, but it was finally time to put my hands on the new Anypoint Exchange 2.0 and the completely new component, Design Center. Now that I've had a few days to take a look around at all of the new functionality, I'm rounding up my highlights below. 

Anypoint Exchange 2.0

As soon as I logged in, I was impressed at how much has been changed. Exchange 2.0 is equipped with a brand new UI and fully integrated with Anypoint platform. And this is a major release; MuleSoft has included capabilities for easy publishing and consumption of API specs, advanced search, collaboration and commenting, and analytics.  

Let's start by talking about the new graphical layout; it's smoother, clearer and, in my opinion, all of the graphical elements on the page are much better organised. It's now easier to switch between the private assets only view and MuleSoft public assets view - and the new menu to filter the content also makes more sense now.

Entering a published asset, I can see than there's been big improvements on how to engage with users and/or consumers. There's a new section where a user can leave a review and assign stars (from 1 to 5) to demonstrate their level of satisfaction. But also new features like the 'share' option, to share the asset with another user within the same organisation, and the 'download as Mule' plugin, to download an API spec as a plugin to be imported directly in Anypoint Studio. The 'tags' section also deserves to be mentioned - it can be used to attach tags to the asset in order to improve the research by users.

The new interface also allows users to upload documents, like architecture blueprints or design documents for example. It's a much more intuitive experience which helps users find the right asset quickly or collaborate easily. Exchange 2.0 has also come up with incentive schemes to encourage collaboration, like the ability to set KPIs and measure the success of APIs by checking how many assets are created, how many of them are reused and its frequency and so on. 

Overall, I think this release is really geared up to increase collaboration between central IT and line of business. Building application networks should be easier than ever!

Exchange.jpg

Design Center

This is what I was really waiting for. The Design Center is the new component of Anypoint Platform which is comprised of a new version of API Designer, and also introduces the completely new Flow Designer. It means that designers and developers now have a unique place to design and build APIs.

I have to say that I didn't spend much time with the Flow Designer as I did with the new API Designer, but it was enough to say:

  • it's quite intuitive, user friendly and provides a guided flow design experience;
  • it's fast and reactive - only a few message processors and connectors are available;
  • it can replace Anypoint Studio for easy and medium complexity applications.
  • it can promote applications to different environments. 
  • it helps users to get the live view of input and output data as the flow is triggered. 

The only thing that hasn't really convinced me is the colours used; there's a massive use of greyscale in the user interface for the components and the popup windows. I'd prefer a more colourful UI - otherwise things seem to blend together a bit too much.

The new API Designer also had big improvements; first of all, a completely new skin in terms of user interface, with a new shelf on the bottom which has been better organised to host the "hints", and the new API Console incorporated on the right hand side. But that's not all. Two new functionalities have been added:

  1. Integration with Exchange: it's now possible to import and publish assets from/to Exchange directly in the API Designer;
  2. Code Versioning: in order to preserve the old versions of an API, "branches mechanism" has been introduced, which can be used to save old versions of API specifications.

API_Designer.jpg

So, to conclude, there will be a lot of fun for me in the next days exploring other new functionalities and trying to build an application using only the Design Center. But, hey, stay tuned. This is only the first part of Crowd release. By the end of Q3, a second part will released and we'll see which new functionalities and components will be available. Did somebody say API portals??

A day in the life of…a development intern

Author: Infomentum

Kicking off our new blog series, ‘A Day in the Life of…’ our summer interns, computer science students Pratik Jadhav and Hasan Rafiq, reveal a behind-the-scenes glimpse of an intern’s typical day.

I chose to study computer science because…

Pratik: My dad is in the IT business so it’s something I’ve been interested in from a young age. I love technology and I wanted to understand how everything works, and how to develop everything.

Hasan: Other members of my family are in IT so I always knew about it. At first, I was going to go into dentistry, but I tried it out and I couldn’t see myself looking into other people’s mouths for the rest of my life! So I knew then that I wanted to go into computer science.

The thing that most interests me in computer science is…

Pratik: Information security. It’s up and coming, and data protection is a massive issue in the market currently. I was really interested to learn more about Infomentum’s ISO certification, and to understand the policies they have to follow. I’ve heard about this at uni so it was interesting to see first-hand.

Hasan: Security as well! I also really like software development, like we’re doing during our internship here. I enjoy the creative elements of development, to come up with an idea and then conceptualise it. I’m really interested in working in development for a start-up in the future.

I decided to do an internship because…

Pratik: I wanted to understand what it feels like to work within a proper organisation in the technology business. I did an internship whilst I was at school, but it was for a food company working in their IT department. I was really looking for an internship at a company who has technology at the core.

Hasan: I’m in my first year at uni, and normally you wouldn’t do an internship until the second year. But I really wanted to check the industry and be sure development was the right area I want to go into. I like to test the waters before I go into something – dentistry being an example of that!

The project I’m working on is…

A day in the life of a development intern

Hasan: Pratik and I are working on a chatbot that provides information to anyone who is curious via Facebook Messenger. Basic information – not necessarily specific but generic information like address, links to a blog post etc. I’m working more on the blog subscription stuff, and Pratik is working on FAQs. With the blog subscriptions, people can specify when and what time of day they’d like to get alerts about a new blog post. If a new blog post comes out and the user hasn’t specified a time, they’ll get an alert from the bot the next time they log into Facebook.

Pratik: Exactly. It’s more to do with website information – so rather than the user having to search a website or search Google, the bot can respond with links to case studies, things like that. It’ll give the user all of the relevant information in one place rather than having to search for it. Using AI means that a member of staff doesn’t need to sit answering questions – the bot does it for them.

On a typical day…

Pratik: Usually we arrive and Amr (Gawish) takes us to the sprint board. Amr is our Project Manager for the chatbot, and has given us two week sprints. We have certain tasks to finish by the end of each sprint so that we can demo the product to the client for feedback and the next round of functionality. So, each day we talk about what we accomplished yesterday and any problems we had, and what we want to achieve today. He gives us advice on what he thinks we should work on next, and answers any questions we have.

Hasan: We plan our whole day at the sprint board, and then start working on the tasks allocated to us.

Pratik: We normally have an overall task which is split into smaller subtasks, so we’ll focus on those subtasks throughout the day. For instance, we had to get AI working with the Facebook chatbot and giving it small tasks – so instead of a person responding, the AI should. We had to get that integration working properly first. We’ll complete these subtasks and then expand them and add our own functionality.

Some surprising things I’ve learnt are…

Hasan: I knew nothing about agile before. I’d heard words like scrum, sprint etc, but I didn’t know anything about them. Lots of team members have sat with us to explain their role, so it’s been interesting to go around the business and understand what everyone does. I was also really surprised about the atmosphere in the Infomentum office – I wasn’t expecting it to be so open and friendly. It’s a different working environment than I thought it would be, in a good way!

Pratik: I’d heard of agile, but I’d never seen it in action. It’s good to see agile delivery first hand and see how it works in an organisation. I also enjoyed getting an insight on different roles in Infomentum and what they do day-to-day. We’ve heard about everything from pen testing, to marketing, to ISO.

If I wasn’t studying computer science, I’d study…

Hasan: I have no idea! Definitely not dentistry. I’d always liked computer science so I never thought about anything else.

Pratik: Medicine or economics. At school, I was very interested in becoming a doctor. But when I reached the last year of studying biology before uni, I realised I wasn’t very interested anymore, so I switched to economics. Then it was between economics and computer science, but since technology is always expanding, I was more interested in that.

My proudest achievement is…

Pratik: Not computer science related, but probably getting grade 7 on the piano! I still play the piano now.

When I leave the office…

Hasan: I play football quite a bit, and I also like video games. And sleep! I’m still adjusting to longer days than uni.

Pratik: I usually play cricket with some friends. I also help my younger brother with his work – he’s doing the 11+ at the moment. I have quite a long commute now, but I’d like to live in London in the future.

Follow infoMENTUM on Twitter