Here's the Rundown on the 2017 FileMaker Developers Conference

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Last week, members of the MainSpring team traveled just outside of Phoenix to take part in the 2017 FileMaker Developers Conference (DevCon). This was a special year for DevCon, as it was the 20th event hosted by FileMaker, Inc. (previously, a few were hosted by Claris). And, it broke the attendance record, weighing in at 1,600 attendees. What’s more, FileMaker also introduced a number of format changes to DevCon, including a nice drop in admission price.

Three conferences in one

FileMaker expanded Monday’s training day to integrate tracks focused on all levels of FileMaker development, including a track for business and a special track for web integrations, which focused on the FileMaker 16's new features. Additionally, DevCon’s main sessions changed from three to two days, yet the number of sessions remained about the same, thanks to a format change in the afternoon session block—all sessions were shortened from 75 minutes to 60-, 45- or 30-minute segments.

The idea behind this change was to make the 60-minute technical sessions more focused and easily digestible, rather than letting them drag on and become confusing or boring. The 45- and 30-minute sessions intended to inspire FileMaker developers with "Closing Insights", which was a new track that shows off real-world use cases of the FileMaker platform that push the limits of possibility.

In result, the optimization of the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions led to the creation of a third sub-conference—Thursday's new FileMaker Business Alliance (FBA) Day. Geared towards FileMaker partners, this new day of sessions focused on the business and marketing aspects of FileMaker, such as the development of vertical market solutions, project management and licensing sales.

Continuing to improve

In exclusive keynote presentations and sessions, FileMaker shared some direction for the future of the FileMaker platform. While specific topics are under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), here are the three key points:

  • FileMaker works closely with their parent company, Apple, to continue to invest, grow and expand the platform, while keeping the business successful at the core
  • FileMaker pays attention to the community by giving developers new tools and features to help them develop outstanding multi-platform custom apps, listening to issues and product improvement requests, and offering expanded training materials to train the next generation of FileMaker developers
  • FileMaker is investing and expanding into new areas of custom apps, which will rollout in future product roadmap presentations and improvements for safe and secure hosting and sharing of custom apps via FileMaker Server and Cloud

Engaging the FileMaker community

As a member of the FileMaker MVP team, FileMaker champions and winner of the FileMaker Excellence Award for community contributions, I have watched FileMaker's involvement with the community grow and mature, with many notable improvements over the past few years. This year, there was more FileMaker staff on-hand at DevCon than ever before. Experts heavily manned the FileMaker booths and answered questions from developers without requiring appointments, like in previous years.

As a presenter, I noticed that FileMaker staff attended a lot more sessions, and spent their time gathering information and asking questions to the presenters. They were also more accessible to talk to in the hallways, and at the many social events that took place during the week.

How to lose your voice in three days

The FileMaker DevCon is the best place to meet and talk to other FileMaker developers, as well as with staff from FileMaker, Inc. Developers from around the globe converge, and there are people up-and-about to talk to 24 hours a day.

This year’s location was fantastic, too—a true desert oasis at a beautiful JW Marriott property. But, unfortunately, that amount of talking, coupled with the dry, desert air in Phoenix, made me lose my voice sometime around Wednesday afternoon!

Nonetheless, it was amazing to meet and chat with so many people in the FileMaker community, especially my newest developer friends from Japan and Australia. DevCon continues to deliver on being the best place to learn, inspire, discuss and live FileMaker. Whether you’re a new developer, a user or a seasoned pro—there’s something for everyone at DevCon.

The future is bright with [FileMaker]…

FileMaker broke one more tradition this year… They did not announce where DevCon 2018 is going to take place. I think this means that there are even bigger plans for next year, and I can’t wait to attend!