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FileMaker Devcon 2019

I’m sitting in the Hyatt, Orlando International Airport, just having finished a slice of key lime pie while I wait for my flight home from the annual FileMaker Developer’s conference, FileMaker DevCon to those of us that have been attending for years. 

This will be the last DevCon I attend, for the pretty exciting reason that it will be known as the Claris Engage conference from now on :)

Yes, FileMaker has changed its name from FileMaker to Claris. Some of you may recognize the name change as a return to the corporate name of the company that published FileMaker in the 80s and 90s, as well as other Apple software products, MacDraw, MacWrite, and ClarisWorks. The more things change, the more they stay the same :)

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FileMaker has acquired an Italian company with an exciting product called Stamplay and will be re-branding this product as Claris Connect (more on that later).

So the new Claris Corp will still be enhancing, selling, and supporting FileMaker Pro and Claris Connect. It should be exciting to see how the two will work together.

Claris Connect is a new development platform that will allow us to more quickly and easily build process and work flows that take advantage of integrations with a wide variety of services like MailChimp, SalesForce, and Quickbooks online. No longer will we have to spend dozens of hours figuring out API logins to all of these different services in order to integrate them with our FileMaker solutions. The Claris Connect interface allows you to drag and drop different functions from different services into a workflow. For example, you could have a job start with data entry in Quickbooks, automatically flow the data into Mailchimp for an outbound mail campaign, and end up with the new job ticket on the screen in FileMaker.

Naturally, this was the big announcement of the conference, but a number of other technologies caught my eye...

  • Zabbix  - An open source server monitoring tool that we can use to monitor not just servers, but tasks running on those servers.

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  • EMV/Chip card reader - we’ve had a couple of needs recently to integrate FileMaker Pro with a chip reader for credit cards. Magnetic stripe reader are easy to integrate with FileMaker, but chip readers much less so. I was pleased to talk to a vendor about a new option for integrating their chip reader with FileMaker

  • FM Better Forms - We started working with this service recently as an option for creating web front ends for FileMaker Server. We’ve done a couple of project recently using Javascript with the Angular framework for creating the web application. FM BetterForms offers an option requiring less effort for some projects.

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  • NFC integration - The cost of RFID labels and tags is pretty low and the iPhone can be an easy solution for reading the signal with its built in near field communications capability (NFC).

  • Long distance bar code scanner - I attended a really interesting session by a developer at a  Maine lumber company. They’ve integrated an iPhone based scanner into their FileMaker app. Not that unusual, but the solution they’ve implemented involves scanning a bar code 40 feet from the hand held scanner! Raises numerous interesting options at some of our clients.

The closing session was a bit different this year. Traditionally the closing session has been a recap of the conference along with, perhaps, sneak previews of future versions of FileMaker. 

This year the new CEO of FileMaker/Claris, Brad Freitag, brought in the author of a book that he has felt really impacted his life, Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. The author, Greg Mckeown, spoke for a little more than an hour about how many of us tend to scatter our time and attention across many tasks, goals, relationships, or pursuits and thereby not doing that well at any of them, and that we would be happier and accomplish more if we narrowed our focus to the 10% of things we consider truly important to our life goals or work goals.

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A very interesting and entertaining presentation. I think I’m going to buy the book, so at the very least, the talk achieved one of the author’s important goals :)

~John Newhoff