Photo of a blue tie-dyed t-shirt, with the Pause logo.

Grateful for the Uniquely Great Ecosystem of Pause 2023

One of the things that makes Pause such a great ecosystem is how it provides these unique opportunities to share and talk with the FileMaker community.

Xandon Frogget, Senior Application Developer at Portage Bay

Our Experience at Pause 2023

Portage Bay sent three people from our team to the annual Pause “unconference” for Claris FileMaker developers. Pause has been held at the same location in northern Georgia for three years now, a beautiful summer camp near the town of Clayton. The rural setting is a nice place to meet in smaller groups and discuss FileMaker topics as well as an interesting array of non-technical topics.

What did we see and learn this fall? Each of our attendees recaps their own highlights below.

Highlights From John

Honestly a highlight for me from Pause 2023 was the group exercise we all did making our own tie-dye t-shirts. I’ve never done that and it was fun to learn the process. Some of the other attendees were obviously past masters of the art form!

The chance to meet new people and have some great conversations with friends new and old was another highlight for me. You never know what you’ll learn in conversations like these. One such chat this year sealed my decision to get a 3D printer.

On the more technical side, I attended a group discussion on FileMaker Server. It was good to hear what others are doing in managing their server environments. I came away with a few notes on things I think we can improve – like utilizing object storage outside of FileMaker more often, such as with Amazon S3. And we’ll be looking into implementing some improvements to our Zabbix monitoring system.

A session on personality types, led by Ann Kiser of SeedCode, and one on JSON manipulation by Micah Woods of Scodigo rounded out the main sessions I attended. I have some followup reviewing to do on Micah’s session as it included a sample file with a lot of JSON manipulation custom functions and I’d like to look at those more in-depth.

Highlights From Xandon

I enjoyed the location and the pace of Pause 2023. On the first day of the conference I attended two sessions.

Interactive 3D Graphics for FileMaker Developers, with Joseph Simpson

Joseph showcased various examples utilizing Babylon.js, highlighting its advantages and potential applications for providing UI and charting. One of the standout demos emphasized the power of using the ‘on dom load’ function. This function enables a script in FileMaker to draw data into the webviewer after the webviewer finishes loading, which was a key takeaway for me from his presentation. I was particularly struck by this approach to integrating data into the FileMaker webviewer. 

My subsequent conversation with Jeremy Brown further piqued my interest, leading me to seriously consider moving away from the static load substitution method for data to display. My newfound enthusiasm was evident during our regular Tuesday morning developer meeting at Portage Bay, where I discussed this discovery with my coworker, Jacob Carr, who shared my intrigue.

By Thursday Jacob had caught the bug and had done more research. He presented to us a method he discovered from SeedCode’s insightful blog post on using callbacks to fetch data from FileMaker. He’s now experimenting with vue.js to facilitate these callbacks for asynchronous data retrieval from FileMaker. I can’t wait for my next webviewer integration so that I can change my workflow and try this as well.

Change Management Tracking for FileMaker, with Dale Miller

At my second conference of the day, Dale introduced his solution for tracking changes. Some key points:

  • Utilizes XML for versioning
  • Employs FileMaker scripts for XML parsing
  • Leverages the Base Elements plugin for enhanced XML parsing
  • Uses checksums to identify changes
  • Features color-coded comparisons between XML versions

While attending Dale’s session, I had the privilege of sitting next to David Ramsey. During the discussion on Dale’s process, FMComparison was brought up. To my surprise, I learned that David had developed the backend for FMComparison, while Joe Simpson, who presented earlier that day, had designed the user interface.

After spending some time exploring FMComparison, I’ve come to genuinely appreciate its functionality. Since returning from Georgia, I’ve incorporated it into several solutions, and it’s proven to be an invaluable tool. One of the things that makes Pause such a great ecosystem is how it provides these unique opportunities to share and talk with the FileMaker community.

On the second day of Pause the pace shifted to a more laid-back atmosphere. The day kicked off with an unplanned session on AI, sparking engaging discussions about its applications. Ronnie Rios showcased a captivating demonstration, integrating ChatGPT with a FileMaker solution. In this setup, users could discuss FileMaker data, and then the AI would craft and execute SQL queries, as well as initiate scripts for specific tasks.

As the day progressed, we delved into group tie-dye activities. This colorful experience was followed by a scenic kayak tour of the lake with John Newhoff, and ending with some fun conversations around the campfire.

Highlights From Joe

Overall, it was great to meet and catch up with so many in the dev community, especially in a beautiful setting. Enjoying such a setting started with my method of travel to Pause which, as last year, was by bike. I shipped my computer to the retreat center and set off on a refreshing 150-mile journey, riding to Pause 2023 from Asheville on the Eastern Divide. I enjoyed 18,000 feet (5486 m) of climbing, with peak fall colors prevalent above the 3,000 foot mark. They were easily some of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever ridden.

If you someday venture out along that path, here are some highlights to catch:

Once at Pause, I attended a few sessions with these takeaways. 

Delivering Code to Production with Feature Flags, with Eric Luce (Proof+Geist)

  • Never have unfinished code. Always be ready to deploy.
  • Store Feature Flags outside of solutions
  •  Naming convention: “$$FF_…”
  • Always clear globals when exiting (script or file), especially for PSOS, due to FIleMaker Server memory leak
  • Use a staging environment for large and/or complex projects, especially when third-party services are used

MBS Plugin, with Christian Schmitz (Monkeybread Software)

  • If you’re not using the MBS plugin, especially as a developer, you really should
  • No feature request is too small
  • Demo: Drag & Drop for containers (auto-creates records for each file)
  • Demo: Automation with FM & IOT using Phidgets
  • Demo: Excel file manipulation

A Human Timeline: FM Container Data, Dymistified, with Sully (Mandelbrot)

My first computer was a Compaq 386. When Sully lined us up based on the year we started using computers, I was right in the middle of the group.

During the session, Sully covered an issue with iPhone cameras. They store photos as HEIC, while other phone types usually store them as JPG, and other OS types can’t read the HEIC file. In FileMaker, the file streams for each file type are displayed differently in containers, based on OS, but you can read the first byte of a file to get the filetype (Base64). Sully provided an intriguing demo – using egg cartons to illustrate displaying bytes.

On to the Next Opportunities Beyond Pause 2023

Pause is self-described as part business and tech conference and part art project, experiment, and gathering of humans and we’re grateful, as always, for our time at Pause 2023. We’re moving on to the next gathering of humans with Kate representing Portage Bay at next week’s EngageU conference in Belgium. If you haven’t yet taken her survey on workflow automation, please chime in. She’ll use the results to inform her presentation to the international FileMaker community.

Then in February we may have some staff going to the renewed Claris Engage conference in Austin. We enjoy continuing to learn and stretch our knowledge and understanding. 

Let’s Bring Your Ideas to Life

We also enjoy building great software that does what you need it to do, efficiently and enjoyably. Talk with us about what you have in mind. Then we can get started in bringing your vision to life. 

GIF of John casting into the lake at the Pause 2023 conference.

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