The Support Group Blog

Jud Wolfskill: How I Became a FileMaker Developer

This is the first in our series of entries, “How I Got Started with FileMaker.”  Jud Wolfskill is Senior Developer of our FileMaker team.  He has developed numerous FileMaker systems over the years, for customers such as Dartmouth College, WGBH, MIT, Duke University Press, and Chevron.  He is also a regular instructor at Harvard University, teaching FileMaker development for their Center for Workplace Development.

I never imagined I would become a “computer guy.”  From my freshman year of college, I had planned to be an English professor.  But at some point while earning a BA and MA in English at University of South Carolina, I realized that I had spent too much time in the books.  I wanted to live someplace where there were smart people walking around and where I wouldn’t need a car.  With my folks’ help, I moved to Boston and started temping.  After a few months, I got a job in the Publicity Department at MIT Press, where I solicited endorsements for books and publicized books on forums on the Internet.  A Google search on my name to this day will return my understated announcements for books on neuroscience and linguistics forums.

At the Press, we used FileMaker to maintain contact information for endorsers.  I began taking one- and two-day classes in FileMaker.  After each class, I would employ what I learned to enhance our database.  Finally, I took Introduction to Scripting, taught by Rich Coulombre.  I realized I liked FileMaker development enough to do it full-time.  I liked Rich’s laid-back, approachable teaching style.  I interviewed for a job at The Support Group and read Rich’s book, Special Edition FileMaker 5 from Que Publishing.  As I progressed through the book, trying out techniques as I read about them, I developed a means of scripting emails and letters to potential endorsers as well as emails to on-line forums that included details about each book.  I also went through what I call the “color stage,” a moment every FileMaker developer passes through in their evolution.  Navigating from layout to layout in the database, I moved from one bright pastel to another.  The functions I had developed allowed me to do my job much more quickly, giving me time to do still more development on the database.

In April of 2002, Rich called me and let me know that one of his staff was leaving and that I would be welcome to join The Support Group.  I was delighted.  A month later, after giving notice at MIT Press and spending time off in Florida and Atlanta, I joined the team.

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