Claris Engage is back! An attempt was made in 2020 to share content virtually, but last week’s conference marks the first in-person developer conference since 2019 (wow).
There were definitely some changes between Engage 2024 and the old-school DevCons, but the core remains the same: the community.
From Training Day sessions and the keynote on Tuesday through the sessions on Thursday, the halls of Apple’s Austin campuses were filled with Claris community members sharing ideas, catching up, and collaborating.
I left the week with a spring in my step and a Notes app full of ideas for myself and my clients. Thanks to Claris for making it happen!
I’ve loved being a trainer for this pre-conference day for many years. It’s such a valuable way to dive deep into learning and prime your brain for the rest of the conference.
This year, Martha Zink and I teamed up to teach a Foundations class, and we had a stellar group of about 50 participants who brought their brains and enthusiasm to a 7-hour day of hands-on exercises. I dug seeing them throughout the week as they embraced Engage.
Bob Bowers, Wim Decorte, Todd Geist, and Cris Ippolite filled other rooms around Apple to explore advanced developer techniques, Claris FileMaker Server, and Claris Connect.
AI, of course, was everywhere (including in my “don’t-oversleep” dreams the day I had to catch an early flight out). If you wanted, you could just about fill your entire schedule with AI sessions. I appreciated Ernest Koe’s orientation to the mathematical principles behind LLMs as a grounding and Joris Aarts’ exploration of the utility of LLMs to speed daily work. I intend to try a few approaches for myself once I ensure the security of my data. I am also working toward an AI solution for a client – more on that in another blog post soon, hopefully.
Two different sessions explored scripted Transactions: how to use them and, more importantly, WHY to use them. The ease of data roll-back had been clear to me, but I hadn’t previously known that they also speed your script’s processing time in that they require less back-and-forth between client and server. Thank you to our own Dawn Heady, as well as Alo Torres-Navarro and Barbara Cooney from Proof + Geist. The More You Know…
A real standout was Karl Jreijiri’s session on load testing by simulating actual FileMaker clients, as opposed to load testing by scripting alone. Karl has built a tool to make it easy to spin up AWS EC2 instances with Claris FileMaker Pro on them and then initiate FileMaker traffic from all of those instances to your server. I could hear lightbulbs going off all over the room during his excellent demo. Stay tuned for some announcements about that tool from our team at Soliant.
Maybe Next Time
As with anything, there are a few areas I’d love to see adjusted for the next iteration of Engage. The largest of these is that attendees were spread among multiple hotels, thus there was no central gathering area. The after-hours hangout has been important to the culture of DevCon/Engage in the past. I think maybe I wouldn’t have even started working for Soliant 15 years ago if the after-hours chats didn’t take place. Yikes. I was going to say, “I miss this,” but reflecting further, I think it’s bigger than that. Connections happen in the spaces between events, and having a central area makes those connections much more likely.
I also missed the closing session! There was likely a solid logistical reason not to have one, but from this attendee’s perspective, it was anticlimactic to attend a session and then…leave.
Still The Best
That said, holy cow, I love having this conference back! The community has worked to keep sharing and growing without it, but there’s nothing like the Big Event. Thanks again to Claris and all of the sponsors and speakers who made it happen. Onward!