Consultingwerk Blog

Progress NEXT 2018 – A review by a speaker, attendee, exhibitor and sponsor

by Kristina Rümmler | Jun 07, 2018

Last week our founder Mike Fechner and our consultant Martyn Kemp attended the Progress NEXT 2018 conference in Boston together with 800 other attendees. It was the first user conference held by Progress Software for OpenEdge as well as all the other established and newer product lines of the company. The conference is expected to be the largest conference regarding Progress technologies this year. As such it was a great opportunity to meet new and well-known faces, our peers from Progress Software and the community, as well as customers, prospects and our partners.

The conference started for us with the invitation “Architect Sessions @ NEXT” – a forum for an open exchange between Progress Software’s leaders of the developer organization, product managers and architects on the one side and delegates representing application partners and large end customers on the other side, about the future road map of various Progress products and OpenEdge in particular. Meetings like this are always a great opportunity to learn about the direction of the company, but also to influence this direction with requirements and concerns from our many customer modernization projects.

Most of the time during the next three mornings was spend in the various general sessions. Recordings of the general sessions are available on this link: https://www.progress.com/next/livestream

The first day started with a presentation of Progress Software’s vision of cognitive, adaptive and connected applications. Progress CEO Yogesh Gupta shared how the company wants to solve the challenges of processing an ever-growing amount of information, number and type of devices and users while achieving fast time to market.

In a very vivid session during the morning, NASA operations manager Tom Stein shared how the Progress Telerik user interface technologies helps them to make the vast amount of data collected during the various Mars missions accessible to scientists, mission control and students.

Kalman Tiboldi, Chief Business Innovation Officer of TVH then shared how TVH is using Progress DataRPM predictive maintenance technology, IoT technology and OpenEdge to provide their business and customers a huge competitive advantage by ensuring that spare parts for machines, such as fork lifts are made available just in time for replacement to avoid expensive production line downtime. We are very proud that our SmartComponent Library and modernization customer TVH was awarded later that day with a Progress App Innovation Award in the category “Best Modernization Project”. Congratulations from the whole team at Consultingwerk!

The keynotes on the second day focused on the Progress products currently available , or to be released in the near future, as well as results of the company research division “Progress Labs”. Progress CTO Dmitri Tcherevik introduced how Progress Kendo UI Builder, NativeScript, NativeChat (the company’s new tool for building chat bots) and mobile backend as a service platform (mBaaS) Kinvey, allow user experience experts or citizen developers to build real working applications quickly, in the form of mock-up tools, based on sample data kept in the cloud platform. In a second phase then an OpenEdge developer can seamlessly connect those apps to an OpenEdge backend like our SmartComponent Library by changing the data provider configuration within Kinvey.

In another live demonstration, the vision of Progress Labs was introduced. An engineer was alerted remotely and was able in advance from the predictive maintenance solution, inspected an incident in a production factory remotely using VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) technology supported by a chat bot that provided real world production data from an OpenEdge based ERP system, leading to dispatching a technician to the factory. On arrival, the engineer was supported – if not to say instructed - by the chat bot and replaced a critical part that was delivered just in time by a drone. A question that many people in the audience probably asked themselves was, who actually was the robot in this scene and who was in charge of making decisions … Progress also introduced how block chain technology can be applied in scenarios like this to keep a trusted log of maintenance contracts and maintenance activities to allow a rapid and compliant decision about the maintenance order.

Just as a side note: Most of the products mentioned here already work together with the SmartComponent Library – we are currently in the process of releasing a mobile app written in NativeScript using the Kinvey mBaaS platform as middle-ware with OpenEdge and the SmartComponent Library on the backend, and we have been supporting Kendo UI Builder as a frontend since its initial release.

The keynotes on the final conference day were mainly focusing on developers and the tools they use. Google developer advocate Stephen Fluin talked about the Angular framework for web and mobile developers and the vast amount of tooling available in this ecosystem for developers. He also highlighted how Progress and Google are working intensively together on NativeScript – the solution to build fast native mobile apps based on Angular. A fun and interesting presentation that just confirmed once more that Consultingwerk’s web and mobile strategy based on Angular for the web and NativeScript, is based on the future-proof technology supported by industry leaders.

In the second keynote that morning Richard Campbell from .NET Rocks shared the history of the .NET framework and how Microsoft became more and more open – especially to developers - over the past 20 years. The presentation also highlighted how the company – especially under the current CEO - has become very open-source friendly and one of the largest submitters to open-source projects in the industry. The presentation was especially interesting from two aspects. First, using and providing open-source software has a growing importance for Progress Software (the JSDO, NativeScript and the Common Component Specification just to name a few initiatives). And secondly, three days later, Microsoft acquired GitHub, the largest repository of open-source projects, for 7.5 billion US$.

During the break-out sessions industry and community experts presented insights into technology, product or industry trends. Coming from Europe, it was very interesting to see how many talks held by US American presenters deal with the subject of GDPR and how they have implemented it both from a technical and legal standpoint. A little under 50% of the break-out sessions, by our estimations, dealt primarily with OpenEdge while the rest of the presentations provided a wide picture about the other products of the organization.

In his own break-out session, our founder Mike Fechner shared insights into the techniques and strategies we are using in our modernization projects. We demonstrated how even TTY style UPDATE EDITING blocks can provide value when migrating to service oriented architectures and how also applications based on frameworks such as the ADM2 or Progress Dynamics can be migrated in a semi-automated fashion. As we have mentioned open-source software above: Consultingwerk is maintaining Proparse on Github. Proparse allows a very efficient method of source code analysis and  according to our experience and the tools of the SmartComponent Library framework, the foundation for the demonstrated application modernization techniques.

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As a sponsor and exhibitor of the conference we were able to present our solutions and services during the conference expo hours at our booth. This was an activity that kept us pretty busy and we’re looking forward to many interesting new potential modernization products arising from there!

Please let us know, if you have any questions about what was introduced at Progress NEXT and how it can support your business!

See you at NEXT, next year in Orlando, Florida from 6-9 May 2019

Or later this year, at EMEA PUG Challenge in Dublin from 10-12 October 2018

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