Claris Engage 2024 Technical Recap

Austin in winter isn’t bad for us who live a lot more North of there. But we were there for another very good reason: the 25th FileMaker developer conference and the first one since the pandemic.

Community

And the energy was great; it was intense and immensely satisfying. Not just the content but the ability to interact with all of you, to feel part of our community.

Soliant had a big presence at the conference. Three of us delivered pre-conference training days, and a number of us also delivered sessions during the event. I’ll echo everything that our Sara Severson had to say about that. We were also a Premier Sponsor of the conference.

Clarity

Apart from the technical content that I will get into below, one of the big takeaways was the clarity that Claris brought about who their target audience is: the developers.

And that doesn’t just mean consulting companies like ours but all developers: in-house, lone wolves and all size of development shops. Claris is a platform that is marketed and sold to developers; the developers deliver value to their customers. Simple and clear.

Developers want to know where the product is heading, and with that in mind, Claris is becoming more transparent with the product roadmap. They shared from both a strategic perspective, which was discussed in-depth in the keynote but also from a more tactical short-term perspective.

Claris Product Plan -  Prioritized Backlog, In Progress, Done

You can now find that detailed roadmap on the Claris Community site.

There are two big sections in that backlog: the features that Claris is working on right now (the enhancements) and at the bottom, the backlog of items that have been prioritized for the next releases.

We’ve always had a voice in those priorities by submitting ideas to the Claris Ideas section and voting up existing ideas. You can also vote on the items in the backlog but those have already been prioritized so if you don’t see what you want, head over to the ideas section and find the features you want and vote them up or add your own and invite others to give it the thumbs up.

Tech Stuff

AI

Surprised? Probably not. It was pretty much a given that AI would be a hot topic at this conference. There were a number of good topics delivered by both Claris staff and developers on what is possible now and what will be possible in the future.

A lot is already do-able right now. See this blog post from May 2023 by Karl Jreijiri, where we focus on an important consideration: not sending any data to ChatGPT but rather have it translate our natural language question into a SQL query that FileMaker can execute, based on the data dictionary of your FileMaker app.

In my Security session, I mentioned AIsec as an emerging topic in the whole security realm in addition to InfoSec, OpsSec, NetSec and all of its siblings. Clearly as developers we have a big responsibility here.

One of the things that I will be looking at is the ability to work with self-hosted LLMs (large language models) for those scenarios where you do not want or cannot connect to a commercial AI provider.

Ultimately, adding AI to the Claris platform has two promises:

  1. Faster development for developers
  2. Better data insights for clients

I am most excited about the second promise. It’s a long held believe of mine that we’re sitting on a lot of data that is largely unused except for static reports. A question we bring up when we do technology strategy workshops with our clients is: “What questions would you want to ask of your data?” The ability to ask those questions in natural language – like we demoed in our blog post mentioned earlier – will make that a lot easier.

FileMaker and Connect and Studio

One of the fears that developers had with the introduction of Studio is whether FileMaker as we know it will go away. It won’t – we blogged about this quite a bit.

The messaging around this is now also becoming clearer. All three products in the Claris platform have a role to play.

Claris Platform: Claris FileMaker plus Claris Connect and Claris Studio

While Studio was initially released with a feature set that didn’t appeal to many, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on. There are some great things coming. And if you want to see what the future of building layouts and user interfaces looks like, look at Studio.

I am especially looking forward to greater connectivity and interoperability between FileMaker, Studio, and Connect. Things such as shared authentication, triggers in all products that can initiate actions, and data flows in the other components. To the point where it won’t matter that you make your screens in Studio but have most of your workflows in FileMaker.

Server

Clearly, I was on the lookout for all things that have to do with Claris FileMaker Server. One of the things I picked up was that we should consider Linux to be the primary OS for FileMaker Server. New features will be developed there which is already evident in two hugely important sets of functionalities: load-balancing and containerization. Another good example is the HTTPS tunneling feature that currently only exists in the Linux version. That is not to say that the Windows and macOS versions of FileMaker Server are going away. But if you want the cutting-edge features, be on Linux.

Also keep an eye out for two things that will come out of Engage 2024 from Soliant:

  • A recap of what Karl Jreijiri demoed to use heavy-duty virtualization to load test your solutions.
  • The security matrix overview of security in your FileMaker solutions, something that I hinted at briefly in my Security session.

Go Further with FileMaker

One of the reasons we send dozens of our team members to events like Claris Engage is because we know how important it is to share our expertise and insights with the rest of the Claris community and learn from them in turn. There’s so much to learn in just a few days! If you’d like to hear more about what’s new with the Claris Platform from an expert and how it can impact your FileMaker application, contact us to talk with a consultant today.

Soliant.cloud Show Special: Get $400 Off Soliant.cloud Setup

We’re running a Claris Engage special for new Soliant.cloud customers, but you don’t have to be at the conference to leverage this deal for your organization. Get $400 off your Soliant.cloud setup with referral code CLARISENGAGE. Get your custom hosting quote here.

If you’re not ready to sign up just yet, don’t worry. The offer is good until the end of February. You have time to learn more about our industry-leading AWS Managed Hosting Service for deploying FileMaker solutions in the cloud. Talk to one of our cloud consultants today.

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