FileMaker DevCon 2017: A First-Timer’s Guide

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
— Harry S. Truman

In a little under two weeks, over 1,000 FileMaker developers and users will ignore Mr. Truman’s advice and head directly into the kitchen that is FileMaker DevCon in Phoenix, AZ, where they will experience the heat literally and figuratively. Together, we will bake in the sun and in FileMaker and soak up as much as we can of each. It will be an exciting time.

If this is your first time in the figurative heat of FileMaker DevCon, let me recommend a few preparations to take to finish the week with a nice tan, but no sunburn or heatstroke.

Soak it All Up

The FileMaker team works hard to every year to put on an outstanding conference. This year’s conference, focusing on the game-changing features of FileMaker 16, promises to be another outstanding one. This is my sixth conference, and I cannot wait for many of the sessions.

Soak in the Sessions

I recommend you attend every session possible. Find the technical sessions at your level and take notes furiously as you listen in. Find sessions above your level, and do your best to keep up. You probably won’t comprehend all that you hear, but by revisiting your notes and the recording of the session, you will understand it later and grow as a developer.

New this year are sessions that speak of the success people have had using the FileMaker platform. These will be inspiring as you hear people talk of how they used paper or spreadsheets with some consternation before turning to FileMaker to make their lives easier. Attend those. I know I will.

If you’ve not yet signed up for a training session, be sure to do so. These are led by some of the pillars of the community that have such a profound understanding of the platform, it oozes from every word they say. There are levels of training, so you can find what is good for you. An entire day in a learning-workshop environment is vital for anyone who wishes to advance their skills in a deep way.

If you stop into a session run by a Soliant team member, make sure to come up to the presenter afterward and say hello! There will be 10 of us presenting this year, and we love to meet people in the FileMaker community.

Soak in the People

The conference week also provides ample opportunity to meet FileMaker developers from all over the world. I cannot tell you how awesome it is to be in a room of hundreds of people just as passionate about the platform as you are. My first DevCon in 2012 was the start of friendships and contacts (it’s all about the networking) that I still have today.

You can get to know others in the sessions, at breakfast and lunch, in the hallways, at the many bars around the campus, and in the pool area. It’s natural to sit by yourself when you don’t know people around you. Do not do that. Instead, sit by random people, strike up a conversation. If you’re not sure what to say, ask them their thoughts on the mouse scroll wheel in FileMaker. You’ll get a great discussion going no matter where you’re at.

Finally, introduce yourselves to the people of FileMaker, Inc. They are good men and women that are incredibly passionate about the platform. They want to hear from you about your successes and struggles.

Soak in the week, everything about the week, whether in the general session or the hallways or session rooms or the lunch room or at a bar or on the lazy river. Soak in everything FileMaker and the crazy-passionate FileMaker developers around you.

Soak in the Community

This whole week is about FileMaker, so there are many opportunities to learn more about the community. Study the FileMaker DevCon page, and join as many events as possible.

  • Join the FileMaker Community. It’s full of helpful and patient people, ready to help you through your specific FileMaker issues. I’m sure that during DevCon, threads will pop up talking about the conference!
  • Review the speakers page and see if you spot names and faces that you may have seen before somewhere (including yours truly). Introduce yourselves to those people.
  • Every year, a large conference room is filled with different exhibitors of FileMaker products. Visit those and see what cool tools people have built for the FileMaker community.
  • Plan the sessions you will visit by reviewing the schedule and/or downloading the DevCon2Go app for your iOS device. Although each session will be recorded, it is awesome to be in the crowd learning and exploring at the same time. Preview the session’s materials and be ready to ask questions during the hour.

Limit Your Exposure

But sometimes you gotta get away — you have to refresh and relax and just breathe. Get out of the sun.

The week promises to be exciting, mind-numbing, and energy-depleting. You’ll lose a lot of mental electrolytes in the time, so you need to replenish those. Find a place to relax, and just take time for yourself. The meals provided are nutritious and plentiful, the hotel beds are soft and comfortable, the air conditioning is cool and refreshing, and the outside is clear and crisp and cool (but only around 4:00 am). Take advantage of all these.

If you’re more on the introverted side of the scale, be sure to get some alone time. Find a chair in the lobby, away from others if possible, and rest. Sit out by the pool (following this post’s advice literally), and let your mind wander. If you must rest by skipping a session hour, do so. That is better for you.

Wear Protective Layers

Side note: I realize I’m stretching this metaphor pretty thin. Bear with me.

In a literal sense, you will need to bring a jacket. Conferences in hot climates the world over compensate by blasting the air conditioners. So wear a jacket on the inside, and shed that thing when you get 10 feet from any exterior door.

Figuratively, keep an eye out for your mental self, and stay focused the best you can on what’s going on around you. One year, I spent almost the entire conference working late nights and early mornings on the system I built for my then-current employer, and that was distracting. I didn’t get out of DevCon all that I should have. As you prepare for DevCon, try to put your affairs in order, and protect your attention for what’s important for the week.

Welcome to the Kitchen

FileMaker DevCon is something I look forward to every year, and this year’s conference is especially exciting. Sessions on the new features of FileMaker 16 and extending functionality and the FileMaker-In-Action talks raise the level of anticipation. And for you, the first-timer, this year will be eye-opening, wonderful, tiring, exciting, and mentally draining all at once. You’ll feel a bit weathered at the end, but there is so much to be gained during this week, you’ll feel no regrets.

Read my daily FileMaker DevCon posts:

2 thoughts on “FileMaker DevCon 2017: A First-Timer’s Guide”

  1. 2nd year for DevCon but this article is just as applicable (& wish I would have read something like this last year!!!).


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