Home / Blog / FileMaker DevCon 2018: Training Day – Part Two

FileMaker DevCon 2018: Training Day – Part Two

Last week I wrote about my experience assisting with Bob Bowers’ Advanced session. I also interviewed two other trainers about how their sessions went. That was so much fun I decided to interview everyone who gave trainings this year.

I managed to track down three more: Mike Beargie of MainSpring, Jeremy Brown of Geist Interactive, and Cris Ippolite of iSolutions. It was a pleasure to speak with them all. Here’s some of what they had to say.

Intermediate – FileMaker Shared Hosting Master Class

Many of you know Mike Beargie from his consistently helpful presence in the FileMaker Community. He was kind enough to meet with me at lunchtime, even though he had a DevCon session to give immediately afterwards. We spent a little time catching up on the past year, and then he shared his reflections on his half-day training:

“This is the first time I’ve done a training day. I spend a lot of time answering people’s questions in the community, so it seemed like the natural next step. I’ve also been speaking at DevCon for a few years now, and I wanted to try something longer than a session.

My class was all about FileMaker hosting, how to install FileMaker Server or FileMaker Cloud so that you can share out your files. It was a start-to-finish comprehensive course on how to install the server, how to secure the server – including generating and installing an SSL certificate – how to figure all the settings in the admin console, how to actually connect to the server once it’s up and running, and finally touching on troubleshooting and getting help.

My goal was to show people that they can set up their own server. With FileMaker 14 support ending in September, and multi-tenant shared hosting going away, there are going to be a lot of people scrambling to re-host their solutions. The landscape is changing with hosting companies: now they’re offering their IT knowledge as a service to help set up dedicated servers for people, rather than providing a setup where a group of clients save money by all sharing the same server.

When we hit the first break, I spent the whole time answering people’s questions. People were really engaged and just stayed all the way through. They wanted to learn as much as they could.

At the end of the training, a lady from the UK came up to talk to me. She was the embodiment of a citizen developer, a business owner who is trying to provide more efficient software for their staff. Up to now she hadn’t considered doing this herself. But her FileMaker 14 hosting company basically told her, ‘We can set up a dedicated FileMaker 17 server for you and help you manage it, but your rates are going to go up significantly’. So she was worried that she couldn’t afford it, and the license was costing her money and maybe she wouldn’t even be able to use it.

Now she has a lot more confidence. She told me, ‘You know what, we’re setting up our server as soon as we get home. We just got our 17 licensing and we were really scared about doing the AWS part of this. You made it look really easy’ – and I jumped in and said, ‘It IS really easy’ – but the important thing is that now she’s ready to give it a try.”

Advanced – JavaScript for FileMaker Developers

I’ve known Jeremy Brown for several years now and admire his passion for teaching and willingness to help others. We met in the hallway between DevCon sessions for a quick chat about his half-day training.

“My session was JavaScript for FileMaker developers. I wanted to communicate the simple fact that all of us FileMaker developers can learn JavaScript. I tried to give them a clear path in – to demystify it and to show that it’s not too time-consuming or impossible to learn. I covered basic JavaScript concepts in the first 90 minutes and then spent the rest of the session on FileMaker Web Viewer integrations.

I was happy that there were 150 people in the session. Shows there’s lots of interest. Even some people from FileMaker, Inc. were there and wrote about it in their blog post. Now I have a SLACK community (fm-js@slack.com) for all the people who signed up during my session so they can continue that conversation in the weeks going forward.

One of the participants was a first-time DevCon attendee who has been working on his solution for a long time and is interested in expanding its platform. He sat in the front row and was there the whole time, working hard. At the end of the session he shook my hand and told me that I helped inspire him to continue his study. He was excited to work with the charting library that I had provided and get it fully integrated into his system.”

Intermediate – Relationships / Calculations

I got to know Cris Ippolite during my time working as the Technical Marketing Evangelist for FileMaker, Inc. I will always be grateful for all the encouragement and support he gave me during that time. And of course he’s a joy to interview — the tricky part for me is to edit down our conversation while preserving his distinctive voice:

“I gave a full-day training in two parts. The morning was about intermediate-level relationships and the afternoon was about calculations.

Relationships is a topic that I’ve been investigating recently, figuring out why people struggle with it so much. The main thing people can’t seem to wrap their heads around is the relationship graph. The concept of relationships in the abstract makes sense to people, but the different ways you actually use the tool can be challenging. So I’ve been separating the idea of creating true relationships between tables from relationships we use for queries – which is where I see people getting lost.

The graph is great for true relationships, but I don’t see the upside of visualizing a query as a bunch of boxes with lines between them. Instead of burdening people with parsing out ‘Is this the same thing as that’, I say separate them so it’s easy to see the difference.

People responded to that honest critique, and to learning a way to sort things out. I could tell it was landing with people – you know, when you get the nods and the ah-has as you’re going along. Then, that night, a group of folks I ran into in the bar – I’m assuming they travel together because they were in the class together too – they pulled me aside and all started talking at once, saying, ‘Hey, that was great! Thanks for letting us know that we weren’t the only ones confused by this.’

In the afternoon I talked about calculations. I wanted to impress upon people that it’s not all about calculated fields. Maybe you’re already comfortable creating field formulas like you do in Excel, but there’s so much more – you can use formulas all over the platform, in custom dialogs, replaces, hidden objects, conditional formatting, portal filtering, tooltips, all that stuff. So if you invest in increasing your calculation vocabulary, you can leverage that information in a lot of different ways.

At the end of the day, I try not to introduce more boring stuff. You know, people are like, holding their heads in their hands and saying, ‘Make it stop!’ so I always wrap up with something fun. This time, I created a dog-walking app that uses four or five different GetSensor parameters to do things like counting your steps and how far you’ve gone. People really dug it, they were rushing to download it to their phone, and they had a great time playing around with it. What could be more fun than getting people on their feet and putting calculations literally in action?”

I had a great time talking to all these folks, hearing how they work and what motivates them as trainers. I hope you got something out of it too!

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