How User Groups Have Made Me a Better Developer

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When I started developing at the end of 2013, I was beset with uncertainty. I had just changed careers without any formal education, and my ability to educate myself was paramount to succeeding in the new profession.

Luckily, I happened to be local to a fantastic user group for FileMaker called the Central Ohio FileMaker Users Group, or COFMUG, which I was encouraged to check out by a former colleague. To say the least, it has been invaluable in more ways than one.


I have benefit in different ways from everyone in my user group. I was hesitant to show up since I was new to FileMaker, but I was welcomed by a supportive environment. I’ve received help from folks who were willing to share their time outside of the user group meetings with FileMaker to XML. Someone even took the time to help me with my workflow and organization!


First off, being able to see the work that other members were doing was inspirational. It also has been very instructive seeing the different approaches to the same problems. It showed me what possibilities are out there and got me interested in my own side projects, which offered lessons of their own. It instills me with the motivation that something really cool is just around the corner if you put in the effort.


COFMUG was especially helpful to participate in talks about the platform that I spend so much of my time developing and thinking about. The interactive nature of the meetings invites robust and thorough discussions. It was like panning for gold every month—where I’d write down the best nuggets from the night to take back home to the office to make use of. To this day, I still get value from my notes taken early on now that I understand the platform more.


Being a part of a user group has fostered my curiosity, enriched my skill set and kept development from ever feeling like just a job to me. If you haven’t attended one—do so! We help each other when we get together; knowledge is the only thing that gets more valuable with the more people that have it.