Goodbye DevCon, Hello Claris Engage!

by Aaron Gutleben - Managing Director

Ultimately, DevCon is always a blur from visiting old friends, making new ones, and filling your brain with new ideas about development techniques. This year, however, opened with some exciting news; FileMaker is now Claris… again.

In addition, Claris has acquired a company called Stamplay that specializes in creating seamless integrations between many cloud-based applications. This will be offered as a new service, Claris Connect, and I think it will open some amazing doors allowing developers to get integrations in place easily. We have already posted some information about these announcements, so I will let you read those posts for more information. Needless to say, this is exciting news.

The future of the Claris Platform

First, Sangita Bannerjee from Claris, took some time in a session to dive a little deeper with Claris Connect than what we were able to see during the Visionary Keynote. Being able to integrate FileMaker with another business application such as Salesforce for example, in a few clicks, is just amazing.

What could easily take 40+ hours of development effort are possible in minutes; yes, minutes! I am curious to see where Claris Connect goes from here. It will be interesting to see if Claris decides to open up this platform to developers so that they can develop their own integration points. Doing so would present its own set of challenges but I would still be curious to see how far they go.

As a result of the recent news, I’ve had a few recent discussions with my colleagues about where I see development going. I do think that there will always be problems to solve for businesses that require custom software. That said, I think integrations will continue to be really important; if not more so in the future. Applications such as Salesforce continue to thrive and mature. As a consultant, it is my job to help solve problems as efficiently as I can, and I think the solutions I provide need to include the possibility of integrating with applications that already solve those problems well. Claris Connect dramatically alters what is possible and I think this is just the beginning.

What else was new?

Meanwhile, a fantastic technical session that stood out for me; led by Wim Decorte and Myslav Kos from Soliant Consulting, was about how to leverage Zabbix to monitor FileMaker Server(s). As a long-time developer, I have had many an occasion where I needed to analyze logs to see if I could determine what was happening when FileMaker Server, or FileMaker users, encountered an issue. Over the years, I have spent countless hours locating and reviewing FileMaker Server log files to see if I could determine a root cause for performance issues, or what led to a server crash.

This session illuminated what’s possible to not only monitor the health of your FileMaker Sever (software and hardware), but how to leverage Zabbix to take steps to remedy a problem such as automatically restarting a failed FileMaker Server process. In addition, I was introduced to a tool called Grafana which will allow you to create and display the statistics you are most interested in, on a Dashboard. That, alone, was pretty interesting; I’m used to opening one log at a time and reviewing each separately. To be able to see the data in a single dashboard was nice.

The power of Grafana was not just in how it presents data however, but also in how it allows you to analyze the logs. The example they showed was to look at spike in processor usage and how you can easily narrow in on the timeline; which then updates all the dashboard objects to show the same period of time allowing you to compare a spike in processor use against, say, the FileMaker Server Event log; instantly! I’m super excited to learn more and to get Zabbix and Grafana up and running, and if you are responsible for managing FileMaker Server, you should be too.

Other Interesting Sessions

While challenging technical topics are usually of most interest to me, I decided to attend a session or two on developing the user interface. I was super impressed a session led by Alexis Allen from Hyperspace Data Solutions, Inc. 

The focus was around building layouts and what pulled me to this session was a specific statement in the title: “Breaking Out of List and Form View: Workflow-Based Design for the Modern World”. It was the “workflow-based design” that caught my attention. I found the ideas she presented around understanding user needs, and how that can and should translate to the design of your layouts, to be really good information. I struggle in this area a bit and left this session feeling inspired to try some new ideas.

Why Attend DevCon Claris Engage

To sum up DevCon is an amazing experience. I think this was my 15th, and as I shared at the beginning of this post, was close to the most exciting yet. If you are a business owner who employs a developer, I highly recommend investing the money and sending them. The access to resources and knowledge is well worth the expense. I’m now settling in at home, have finally caught up on some sleep, and am starting in on my Monday with a fresh outlook. Now back to work!

Click here for more DevCon 2019 blog posts.

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