Community Spotlight - February 2017

Alejandro Duarte
Alejandro Duarte
On Feb 28, 2017 8:19:00 AM

For this month’s community spotlight, I interviewed Normand Hénault. Normand is the CEO of a company developing an interesting project called Nuuzee, a service that allows users to geographically explore events around them. The web application is available in 93 languages with the translations managed in a MySQL database. It contains a local reverse geolocation feature, also stored in MySQL, with a dataset of 2,3 million cities, 50,000 regions and 240 countries. Normand developed this web application from scratch using Java and Vaadin. The Nuuzee project included numerous Vaadin add ons as well as several Java APIs such as:

Hello Normand. What can you tell us about yourself? Where do you work? What’s your role and background?

I am from Montreal, Canada and I am the CEO and Technical Founder of a very promising project that is Nuuzee. My background is in computer sciences, I've studied at Montreal university's Computer Sciences department. I've been in the field for close to twenty years.

What is Nuuzee all about?

Nuuzee is about what's happening around you in Real Time Your Space. I started two years ago when I had the idea. I am the main developer and I have a partner who handles the other stuff, such as business and marketing. It is a work in progress. I also have a collaborator for the deeper technical stuff, as well as all the UI and UX which have been accomplished with a very good friend of mine who is specialized in that field, from the McGill University Information Sciences department.

I used the app and it looks like a service to geographically see things such as sales, traffic incidents, and events. Is that right?

Yes, I tried to keep it as narrow as I could for starters, but the concept permits a wide range of uses. It's all about local communities and them wanting to know what's happening around them. But it could also serve people who want to know what's happening locally when they travel to another place. Local communities have needs for this kind of communication. Just look at the telephone poles, phone booths and public cork boards at your library, town hall, shopping center. People post tons of local information! It is also required by small local businesses which don't see the added bonus on buying ads on large platforms. They can use Nuuzee to quickly and easily post information to their surroundings about a special on food, for example, and this on the same day.

I'd use such a service for sure! Jumping into more technical stuff... How did you come across Vaadin?

Vaadin was suggested to me by a best friend of mine who uses it for their Mechanical Engineering software development called Notixia (Witllaken), based in Montreal. Since I didn't have professional programming experience, he told me Vaadin was the obvious direction to take if I wanted to accomplish my goal of programming the Nuuzee web app myself without all the hassle of handling JSON, Javascript and HTML. Only one language: Java.

Do you think Vaadin helped to reduce the time-to-market of your project?

Absolutely! I would even add that Vaadin enables programmers to focus on the user experience which is in my opinion one of the most important features in a public facing technology, by not having to master multiple other technologies. The amount of work required with HTML and JavaScript would not have permitted me to be this far in the Nuuzee project for sure. With a technology such as Vaadin, programmers can focus more on the backend and the underlying datasets (MySQL) as opposed to the front end, in my opinion. And I consider Javascript and HTML languages to be much less interesting than Java.

What would you say to those looking for a front-end technology for their next projects?

Use Vaadin! I might be biased, but as I said before, I did not have professional programming skills and I was able to build Nuuzee! Programmers are usually lazy people so if they can avoid stacking up technologies to accomplish their work, why not? Lazy people are of high intelligence since they are always thinking of ways to ease the workload.

Well noted. Well, thank you Normand for your time and best wishes for your project.

Thank you and thanks for this opportunity. I believe Nuuzee will go very far... You can go check the app out at

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Alejandro Duarte
Alejandro Duarte
Software Engineer and Developer Advocate at MariaDB Corporation. Author of Practical Vaadin (Apress), Data-Centric Applications with Vaadin 8 (Packt), and Vaadin 7 UI Design by Example (Packt). Passionate about software development with Java and open-source technologies. Contact him on Twitter @alejandro_du or through his personal blog at
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