FileMaker Across Borders

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Through my annual visits to FileMaker DevCon, and my recent trips to the Japan FileMaker Conference and Quebec FileMaker Conference, I’ve met a lot of great people from the worldwide FileMaker community. One thing I’ve found is that many people don’t realize that the use cases for FileMaker can vary as much as the developers making their apps. Therefore, I’m happy to share some of my experiences and things I’ve learned from communicating with developers across the globe.

FileMaker data security

In Europe, one of the major concerns right now is data security. As this recent thread in the FileMaker Community points out, the new GDPR regulations in Europe will soon take effect. With that comes a greater responsibility for app developers to take a security-forward approach to developing data-driven apps.

In America, we have similar approaches for apps that require PCI and HIPAA, but something like GDPR affects a much broader app market. We can learn from this by taking security-forward approaches to our own apps. For instance, we recently conducted internal security testing that lead to the discovery of a flaw in FileMaker WebDirect 13 and 14. That’s why it’s so important to audit your own systems on a regular basis.

Contributing FileMaker ideas and issues to the community

During my time at the conference in Japan, it was shocking to see and hear that there are so few consulting developers in Japan—so much so, that the conference itself was made up of tracks geared toward business prospects rather than developers. For example, an entire day and track was devoted to Healthcare. The vendors’ exhibits also varied greatly, focusing on vertical market products that were ready for sale, rather than developer tools, like at the North American FileMaker DevCon.

Mike speaking at FMCJP

As the small-team FileMaker market grows around the world, so the citizen developer role has risen. A citizen developer is someone that bridges the role between a consultant, or professional developer, and just a regular user. In Japan, a lot of citizen developers are in the FileMaker community. They do lightweight changes on their company’s apps and may not be involved with sharing in the community. While this allows for conferences (like Japan’s) that are more geared toward business, it can lead to equal frustration from the professional and consulting community, as they end up not receiving the community support and innovation that other areas have. In fact, there’s always a large group of Japanese developers that attend FileMaker DevCon in the United States just for that reason. Consequently, it’s important to provide support in the community in a way that equally benefits all levels of developers.

FileMaker user groups

One last experience I’d like to share is that of user groups. FileMaker recently started promoting and setting up spaces for user groups inside the community, like my Central Ohio FileMaker User Group (COFMUG) space. This is a unique commitment to grow the community around FileMaker and allow for the entire ecosystem to grow.

However, when it comes to FileMaker user groups, there is this phenomenon of “super cities”—where certain cities, like in southern California and Montreal, Canada, hold regular meetings with large groups of developers attending. In comparison, COFMUG struggles to keep a 5-10-person monthly attendance average. What’s more, I recently read about a developer that was trying to start a user group in Maine who was also worried about attendance…

My hope is that, with these new community user group resources, the borders in our community will start to blur to the point where simply sharing ideas and concerns matters more than the developer’s geography.

Growing the FileMaker community

There’s a whole, wide world in the FileMaker community. It’s important for consultants, developers and users alike to start taking advantage of its resources. Explore the FileMaker Community site, attend some of the worldwide DevCon events and join as many FileMaker user groups as possible.