Another Year Come and Gone – FileMaker DevCon 2018 Recap


FileMaker DevCon 2018 was another great show - this time in Dallas, Texas. The hotel was huge, the food was great, the sessions were awesome, and the networking was on point.

If you missed the show - or maybe didn't make it to all the sessions you wanted - below we’ve listed out our team’s favorite sessions (and moments) from DevCon 2018. Keep your eyes on FileMaker’s youtube channel for these recordings.  

Buckle up - this blog is a bit long, we won’t be offended if you just scan it.

Recommendations from Jeff H., FileMaker Developer and Hosting Engineer

FileMaker + Tableau, a Match Made in Data Heaven!

Vincenzo Menanno, Beezwax

I was very intrigued by this session, not only because Tableau was a new software to me, but also because Vince showcased some amazing possibilities with integrating a FileMaker Solution to a Tableau Server.

Vince was a great speaker and was able to present the integration in a way that seemed like child’s play for an intermediate developer. He showed the steps required to configure a FileMaker Solution to integrate with Tableau’s Web Data Connector, then showed how data from FileMaker could be quickly manipulated to build complex charting with filters and sorting not available in FileMaker.

In addition, he demonstrated how you could take the powerful chart you just made in Tableau and drop it into an interactive web viewer in your FileMaker solution to show practically real time data modeling within your system using Tableau Server’s sharing feature.

To top it off, he then demonstrated how to use the fmurlscript extended privilege to add actions to a Tableau chart to extend its functionality even deeper into FileMaker. For example, allowing a user to click on a bar chart and be taken to related data in FileMaker.

Watch it here.

Salesforce FileMaker Integration

Christopher Gauthier, GreenPages, Inc.

Similar to the Tableau integration session, this session had my attention because it not only showed me a first glance at Salesforce, a common competitor to FileMaker CRMs, it also demonstrated how easy an integration was with the new FileMaker Data API.

Christopher did a live demonstration (*applause emoji* always a bold move) with a FileMaker solution to push leads and opportunities to their Salesforce solution. Not only did I learn about the integration between the two platforms, but I also learned some other shortcut options when developing solutions using the Troi Dialog plug-in.

To this day, I’ve only had my hands on the Troi File plug-in, so it was interesting to see what other options were out there. In this case, he was using the Troi Dialog plug-in to return back a selectable return-separated list to the FileMaker solution. Normally, this would require you to build additional schema for a Virtual List, design UI for selecting your choice from Salesforce, and develop the scripting to perform this process. In one function call, he saved hours of development time.

Aside from the Troi plug-in integration tip/trick, seeing Salesforce for the first time piqued my interest in the software and it intrigued me to see what all it could be integrated with and what features Salesforce offers that FileMaker off-the-shelf doesn’t offer.

Watch it here.

How to Build an Artificially Intelligent FileMaker App

Johan Hedman, Luke Rochester

This session was particularly interesting, because Artificial Intelligence is a growing concept in the tech industry and I was curious how AI could be integrated into a FileMaker solution. What would be a use case?

This session had so much great information that it easily could have spanned three to four sessions. But in the time allotted, Luke gave a quick overview of Artificial Intelligence in general and Johan provided a quick demonstration of how to integrate a free AI API called DialogFlow into your FileMaker solution.

This AI (DialogFlow) is used in their product OneBusinessApp to allow users to use voice commands to work with FileMaker data. The AI is used to “not only monitor performance in real time…it can predict performance in the future.”

This session sparked a personal interest to investigate what other AI APIs are available and how can they be used to enhance a FileMaker solution. I look forward to seeing what other innovative ideas developers come up with in regards to Artificial Intelligence. This session demonstrated how truly elastic the FileMaker platform is and how almost anything is possible today.

Watch it here.

Recommendations from Rachel C., Product and Marketing Manager

Project to Product

Stephen Day, FileMaker

This was a great session to introduce developers to the process of creating successful FileMaker vertical solutions. Stephen provided a recap of the SBA program and then brought in two guest speakers. With these two speakers and Stephen’s great questions, I recommend this session to anyone just getting started with a new SBA vertical solution and to experienced vertical developers, as well.

Emory Brown from DB Services talked about the importance of creating a roadmap - from the hosting of your product, licensing it, and creating a unified user interface to determining your plan for the initial features and future modules.

As a key to a successful launch, he talked about the benefits of having an advocate in the industry or a SME (subject matter expert) to help you understand your target audience and to help you spread the word.

Tanya Van Sant from ArtBase talked about her experience in managing her vertical solution for the past 25 years. She provides some sage words of wisdom: lock down the file and go SaaS ASAP.

She recommended creating a universal product with little to no customizations, but lots of options in preferences. When discussing how to handle version upgrades, she had a great tip to keep an internal log (hidden) to track all changes that have been made to the file. I know from experience how helpful this would be for any customer upgrade.

Watch it here.

GDPR: Why You Should Care

Claus Lavendt, DataManix

Many of us have seen the lengthy discussions about GDPR in the FileMaker Community. If you have concerns, questions, or just need an overview, then this is a good session to watch.

Claus provided a great overview of what is considered “personal data”, what type of data we should be protecting or even avoiding, how long should we retain that data, how we can improve security through Encryption at Rest, SSLs, Field Level Encryption, etc.

He showed a demo of a data collection system created in WebDirect so it could be used by anyone, anywhere. By creating a form with only the data fields he needed (or fields he can ask based upon what is allowed with GDPR), he was able to minimize the risk of gathering inappropriate data. This also allows you to gather consent and incorporate a privacy policy and deletion policy all up front. Great ideas.

GDPR can be ambiguous and hard to interpret, but this session provided security ideas that are easily attainable and will help you secure your own data and create good security options for your clients.

Watch it here.

Recommendations from Will B., FileMaker Developer

IoT and the FM Data API: Sending Sensor Data to FileMaker Server from a Raspberry Pi

Wim DeCorte, Soliant Consulting

I enjoyed the IoT session, because I believe that IoT is a strong direction FileMaker is going in - especially with utilizing the new Data API.  I am also, personally, very interested in connecting electronics and finding ways to communicate with them.

IoT can (and will) open new doors for business workflows - it’s incredible that now a business is able to monitor sensor data from, for example, a kettle that cooks a product and needs to reach a specific temperature in a certain amount of time.  And, going one step further, the company is able to control these devices with triggers when parameters are met.

Watch it here.

FileMaker + Agile: How to Quickly Solve Business Problems

Karen Craig, iSolutions

I enjoyed the FileMaker + Agile session, because I was expecting to learn more about Agile (which I did) but, more importantly, I learned that there is a time and place to use Agile programming and it all depends on the project and client.

I always thought that a waterfall programming style was old fashion and I needed to strive toward performing work using hip new techniques. Waterfall, Waterfall / Agile Hybrid, or Agile used in the wrong project can break a client's trust and result in lost business.

Some clients need to know exactly how much and how long it is going to take to build what they need.  Others are more interested in getting immediate results that start saving them time.

Overall, the session was eye-opening and thought-provoking. Karen provided examples for the audience about which techniques we should use in a given situation. As a developer, this really helped me to better understand that the development process is more than just finishing the tasks I was assigned to do for the day.

Watch it here.

Recommendations from Keith L., CFO

I have to admit that I’m not that into all the technical witchcraft under FileMaker’s hood and to admit that in a technical community is probably heresy.  

I enjoy previewing the new features and imagining how those features can benefit our customers. As a business owner, it is important to me that our staff knows all about the ones and zeros, but what I’m really interested in is people and business - both of which I make a point to get plenty of in our booth, at lunch or after the sessions are over when the attendees gravitate toward the bar or other evening events.

I have a natural curiosity and genuine interest in people.  Not because I think they will become a customer, but just because they are interesting and have a wealth of knowledge and experience I can learn from.  What are their hobbies and interests? How are their families? What are their challenges or successes in their businesses? I learn so much and come back with so many ideas that it takes a whole year to implement the best of them – and then I find myself at another DevCon beginning the cycle again.  I am happy to openly share our experiences too.

In the end, my philosophy is that the entire community is in the same boat and that people do business with people they know, like and trust - and the best way to get to know people is to be interested in and share ideas with them.

Thanks for reading!