The Support Group Blog

The Support Group Milestones

When you get more than three FileMaker developers in the same room, it’s inevitable that at some point in the conversation they will start reminiscing about “the good ol’ days” of FileMaker and trying to one-up each other with how long they’ve been using FileMaker (since 2.1 in my case).

As we anticipate the release of FileMaker 18, I've gotten a little nostalgic about the FileMaker application and naturally, about some of the major milestones of The Support Group.

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How the Stages of Grief Relate to the Software Development Process

We develop custom business software solutions. Our job is to turn a customer’s business needs into functional, organized and attractive software solutions that improve their business operations. At the end of the day, our job is to make our clients look good inside their organizations.

At the heart of every software product is change. Once projects start to take form, our clients begin to see different possibilities and their minds fill with creative enhancements that will make their software even more valuable. We like when clients get excited about new possibilities, but it can also be difficult in terms of managing expectations.

It occurred to me that the process developers go through when faced with very difficult development challenges is much like the well-known stages of grief that psychologists describe. So here we go on the mental journey of almost every technical person faced with almost insurmountable client challenges.

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The Great Debate: Mac or PC with FileMaker Pro?

We are an office divided, Mac or PC. Some of us prefer to do our FileMaker development on Macs and others prefer PCs. We are given the option to choose our systems when we join The Support Group and many other organizations probably pose the same question to new hires. FileMaker, Inc. is an Apple subsidiary and FileMaker Pro works just as well on PCs as it does on Macs. Some menus might look a little different, but the functionality is all the same. FileMaker 16 actually goes a long way to achieve parity between the two systems. The new interface in FileMaker 16 allows Windows users to interact with the program as if in a typical Windows environment. Windows users are able to remove menus in order to maximize screen real estate and use multiple monitors when developing custom applications in the latest version of FileMaker Pro.

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Talking About Risks

Every project of any kind faces risks: future events and possibilities that threaten to undermine it by preventing it from coming to completion or by reducing the benefits it offers. For example, in custom database development, misunderstandings about what the client needs for a report or feature, political conflict in an organization, differences in personal styles, and a hundred other things can slow the project’s momentum or create obstacles such as conflicts or technical hurdles.

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Siri Rocks!!!

Like a lot of people, I am the proud owner of a shiny new iPhone 4S.  Now, that may not sound unusual (I mean, Apple has sold MILLIONS), but the guys and gals I work with are saying “OMG!!!”

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"Why should a human do this when a computer can do it?”

Early in my FileMaker career, perhaps back in the first version of FileMaker, we were hired by a company selling and leasing commercial real estate.  The company’s database contained information on properties for sale and lease, completed transactions, and a variety of reports summarizing data by office, district, region, sales person, month and quarter.

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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.

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How I Got Started with FileMaker

The Support Group has been working with FileMaker for decades, since our founder Rich Coulombre started teaching a FileMaker Pro class at MIT, then at other schools, and then wrote a book on FileMaker Pro 2.

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Aha!

I’m an old school guy.  I started with an Apple II Plus in 1980 with a text-based operating system, audio cassette player for storage and a whopping 4K of memory.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven after purchasing a 5 1/4” floppy disk drive with an incredible 113K storage capacity.

I was the guy you read about staying up all night working away on some software or other.  I loved to program, and lived for that “Aha!” moment when the solution to a problem suddenly appeared.  Researchers have shown that the “Aha!” moment is associated with the release of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and an array of endorphins.  That feeling is real and something I lived for.

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Will There Be an iPad App for FileMaker?

Frank asks:

Is there, or will there be, an iPad app for FileMaker and Server?

My guess?  Absolutely.  I mean, there has to be, right?  Mobile apps are all the rage, and I can’t imagine that FileMaker is not seriously investigating this market (they’ve already done a great job with their Bento app).  But there are existing solutions available today as well.

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