Posted on 26th May 2015
We talk to Dr. Ben Fletcher, Director at DataTherapy, to get his take on what developing on FileMaker 14 will mean to his business.
What new FileMaker 14 features are you most looking forward to, which is the most exciting aspect for you?
The aspect I’m looking forward to the most would have to be the new layout and design tools. The all new button bar and layout options allow solution interfaces to be built much more quickly and consistently, a huge benefit when rolling out numerous solutions or multi-faceted systems to the same client – as it ensures every interface has the same look and feel.
The new options should discourage developers needing to roll out their own navigation interfaces from scratch, which should ultimately lead to quicker and simpler development. The simple inclusion of some high quality icons built into FileMaker, again makes the process a lot easier and removes the need for developers to license 3rd party icons or design their own. The new icons are especially good for mobile development i.e. FileMaker Go on iOS.
How will the new Script Workspace affect the way you develop solutions with FileMaker 14?
The new Script Workspace is a big move forward. The old script editor, while very familiar to long standing FileMaker developers like myself who had grown with it, could potentially be off-putting to newer developers used to traditional software development environments (that have features like predictive type ahead and syntax code colouring). The new interface for Script Workspace does a great job of balancing the needs of both the seasoned and new developer alike; there are plenty of refinements which make working with scripts much friendlier and more efficient for both.
FileMaker WebDirect is up to 25% faster – will this help to bolster the mobile solutions that you can now offer clients?
It’s always pleasantly surprising and welcome when a software upgrade improves performance. In IT, people have generally got very cynical, as many upgrades frequently add to functionality, but at the cost of performance and speed. It certainly makes mobile development more viable for customers that may have an existing investment of slightly older devices, not to mention catering for the instantaneous response that many mobile users have now come to expect.
How do you think the new FileMaker 14 features and functionality will save time when developing?
I can easily imagine that the host of new features will make most developers more efficient in their general processes – more so when working on solutions which are interface or scripting intensive. When you add these time savings up across a month, or an entire year – it’s passing on major operational savings to technology consultancies that use FileMaker as their primary development platform.
How will FileMaker 14 make your job easier?
Ultimately, as a consultant, FileMaker 14 will make it quicker for me to be able to develop compelling business systems to my customers in less time, and to a higher quality. FileMaker has always been good at building bespoke solutions for niche markets and unusual needs quickly. FileMaker 14 simply builds on this solid foundation, with its new features and functionality making it even quicker to get a new solution up and running. It’s a win-win solution!
Posted on 1st May 2015
This post comes courtesy of Mike Smith, Director at MaJic Solutions
If you were paid to paint someone’s house, you wouldn’t paint half of it and then walk off with the money, would you? The same is true with software development; creating a useful business solution for an individual or organisation doesn’t start and end with just the software, there’s a lot more to it than that.
FileMaker developers need to ensure that they create solutions for their customers which are long-lasting, upgradeable and most of all, useful. The initial ‘business analysis’ period that a developer spends with their client is key to this, and for MaJic Solutions, one of the most important parts of the entire developmental process…
Let’s analyse the situation
A proper business analysis for us can take anything from 48 hours up to two weeks, and it depends on the size and complexity of the organisation. It’s that time that you find out the issues and problems within the business. Then bring to the table ideas and technology that the organisation’s stakeholders hadn’t thought of. If the project is then accepted, physical development of the software can then start, and this is far, far easier due to all the background work that’s already taken place.
Once the solution is ready, we test it with the users, often by hosting it in the cloud. Once we’ve gathered all relevant feedback, made modifications and finalised changes it’s then fully deployed.
Through this methodology, we find that because the key stakeholders and users have been briefed on, and exposed to, the solution over a number of weeks or months – that they are already very familiar with how to use it once it’s ready. The training happens organically, and that’s, in our experience, the best way that people retain their knowledge. We find formal training often isn’t necessary, people don’t tend to need to be taught about something that they’ve helped to design!
FileMaker does the talking, so we don’t need to
Aside from being easy to develop on, FileMaker, which we use exclusively for our solutions, is also very easy for people to use. Because of its user-friendly nature, providing you develop a good enough user-interface – people find it very intuitive. Put it like this, in 15 years of business, we’ve only ever been asked once for a user-manual for something we’ve created with FileMaker!
The underlying point here is that there is no one area in the ‘development’ process which is more or less important than the others. Consultation, guidance, developing, testing, support – when you play every part right, that’s when you’ll succeed – not only with your software, but as a true business consultant.
Posted on 29th April 2015
‘Here’s your software solution. Enjoy!’
For businesses, technology implementations don’t play out that way. We hear more and more about ‘digital businesses’; organisations that are making the most of the tech available to them, and leaving their slow-to-adopt competitors behind. Why aren’t all businesses simply rolling out new technology throughout their organisation and embracing the digital future? Well, it’s just not that straightforward.
Developer insight goes beyond implementation
FileMaker developers are in their element when they spend time with businesses, identifying areas where an organisation can streamline processes. Process or efficiency problems in companies can arise anywhere, across specific departments or even the entire business – the savvy developer recognises this, and it requires them to work closely with an organisation, to fully understand its business concerns and objectives. Then begins the software development and subsequent application, aimed at combatting these pressure points. When the FileMaker solution is introduced, you can’t just walk away however, as this is the critical time when user feedback is most important.
Developers are experts in their fields. They know software and programming inside out and can build business solutions in no time at all. It’s not always the same within an organisation though. The workforce, the main FileMaker user group, by and large, probably won’t be as technologically-minded or capable with software as a developer, but they will more often than not know what’s best for their business due to the hands-on experience accumulated as part of their day-to-day role. So the support should go both ways, developer to client, and client to developer throughout the duration of the project.
Keep the conversation going
First impressions of new software are critical. Provide the right solution at the right time and staff will be singing its praises, potentially even pushing for it to be rolled out further. Get it wrong by not providing an adequate introduction to the software, and staff will struggle and either not use it, or seek alternative options.
In this regard, ongoing support is just as vital as applying the solution. We see innovative adaptations of FileMaker every day, with organisations identifying different areas of their business where a FileMaker solution can help. Sometimes, savvy in-house personnel tackle this themselves, otherwise, ongoing developer support helps those organisations that spot an area for improvement, but can’t address it without that extra bit of practical insight. Consider it a technological HR role – you’re there to make sure staff are happy with the software they use day in, day out.
Providing the tool for the job is the start. Working with staff on an ongoing basis, tweaking solutions and listening to their concerns is where developers really earn their keep. Keep the conversation going and you’ll see how far technology implementation can really go.
Posted on 2nd April 2015
Continuing on our Digital Dark Age theme, James Ducker, Director at Decent Group shares his views on how to get the right data preservation safeguards in place now, to avoid paying down the line.
The Digital Dark Age, as a developer is it a concern of yours? Why?
It’s not something that really affects our everyday work at Decent Group, but it is definitely something we have to keep in the back of our minds when developing software. We have a responsibility to our clients to provide access to the information they want, for as long as they want it. I’m certainly interested in the subject of the Digital Dark Age though; the number of people I’ve spoken who have found a floppy disk or a cassette tape, and wondered what was on it as they no longer have the right hardware – has definitely increased.
This does create questions to whether, as an industry, we’re setting ourselves up to fail with very long term data access. It’s important to recognise the difference between data access and data preservation though, as these now defunct hardware mediums will preserve data far better than, say, paper would – but if it’s not readable then what’s the use!
Do you think there is anything that can combat it, such as emulation of legacy software?
It certainly wouldn’t be a simple solution, and there wouldn’t be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ safeguard due to the thousands of different file formats that exist today. The biggest way to combat it is to be adequately prepared.
One of our clients is an educational publisher; when we started working for them we found their digital filing system to be actually quite good and efficient, but it contained a variety of file formats that couldn’t be read, as the desktop publishing software which created them became obsolete in the 1990’s. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t access some book artwork that they needed. In the end we had to scan hard copies of the books in question – not the ideal solution.
Now we encourage big clients to adopt certain file standards which stand the greatest chance of longevity. Adobe’s PDF/A format has been specifically designed for preservation of digital documents and is certainly a format we’d recommend.
What should developers do to try and safeguard clients’ data for as long as possible to prevent an early onset Digital Dark Age?
PDF/A, while great for documents, doesn’t work for everything. So, another piece of advice would be to remain on a piece of software’s ‘upgrade treadmill’. What I mean by this is to do some research and select a piece of software that has been adequately tried and tested, that has proven longevity, and that is upgraded regularly. This stands you in a strong position for adequate data preservation over a long period of time (providing the software has a good history).
FileMaker is brilliant for this. Soon to be celebrating its 30th birthday there are few other solutions out there are as trusted, and as well used. Yes, staying on the upgrade treadmill does require investment in both time and money – but if the preservation of data is important to you, then it’s a worthwhile investment.
No one wants to invest in technology, software or otherwise which doesn’t have a proven shelf life or that has built-in obsolescence. It just wouldn’t make economic sense. When I’m out in the field talking to clients, I try and make them aware of this. When I mention the heritage and future roadmap of FileMaker, it’s often the time their eyes light up – and that’s the software they opt for.
Are there any other examples you have regarding compatibility issues with legacy and current data?
The good news is that we’ve done several conversion projects from really old programs, and we’ve been fortunate in that a lot of those old databases do ultimately store their data in a text form. We can code programs which can extrapolate that data, but because we’re writing bespoke programs for individual clients, it can be quite costly and can be avoided by staying on the upgrade treadmill.
I think the other element of importance is a human one. IT Managers should constantly be looking at the best ways to look after company’s mission-critical data, and any that don’t do this are arguably being negligent. The Digital Dark Age to an extent is here now, and we all certainly need to take responsibility and do everything we can to put the relevant safeguards in place, to avoid paying for it down the line.
Posted on 1st April 2015
Garry Thompson, CEO at Computech gives us his viewpoint around the Digital Dark Age. Providing insight into how developers of all shapes and sizes can help safeguard their clients’ data, keeping it accessible and readable for years to come.
The Digital Dark Age, from a business context as a developer, is it a concern of yours?
Certainly it’s something we have to bear in mind, however at Computech we’re very much focussed on the here and now, safeguarding and providing easy access to our clients’ digital data – whether that be legacy from several years ago or current. We can’t help but think there’s a buzz around the topic at present, and whilst logical – it could well end up akin to the millennium bug, something that simply doesn’t happen on a scale that people are predicting.
Some of the doomsday scenarios that have been bandied around I feel are also a little over the top, yes there could be potential fallout and a few ‘casualties’ of the digital dark age in its extreme – but I don’t see not being able to pull information out of antiquated hardware as the end of the world. What’s more, there are many initiatives and projects (such as TIMBUS), which are striving to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Do you think there is anything that can be done to combat it, should we be utilising software or hardware to safeguard data?
A hybrid system that enables an organisation to set up its own cloud, to access business information via the internet, how and where it wants, is probably the most secure solution for longevity of data.
I would be very disinclined to advise a client to put all its eggs in one basket, for example all your data in one cloud or on one hard drive / physical server. What if the server farm where your data was stored ‘in the cloud’ was subjected to an act of cyber terrorism? Your data might be irretrievable, or inaccessible for some time – the potential fallout of which could be disastrous. Even throttled internet bandwidth can have a massive knock on effect to organisations who can’t afford the slow down.
Cloud is good for backup, and great for collaboration but it shouldn’t be your only data safeguard. It’s incredibly important to backup your data, regularly, and across combinations of both hardware, software and cloud if you want to be extra secure. Sometimes though simplicity is the answer. It of course depends on the type of business you have, as to how much you could be affected.
What should developers do to try and safeguard clients’ data for as long as possible to prevent an early onset Digital Dark Age?
It’s our job to make people aware of the possibilities and potential repercussions of data loss, and to make people aware of the importance of backing up locally in addition to other methods. A backup should be an ENTIRE backup, whether that’s a snapshot, dependant on the business, which gets taken once a week or twice a day.
Everything has a cost, and it’s important to strike that balance between necessities, and that extra additional security that’s nice to have. We’re huge advocates of FileMaker from a backup and a cost perspective. Its built-in backup capability is swift and efficient, and is easily backed up to a local server drive (and a local external drive). If something goes wrong, you can be back up and running within minutes, without having a great deal of technical knowledge, which is a luxury not usually available with other database technologies (such as SQL based systems for example).
Is it important for you to use tried and tested software that has proven longevity, when building data management solutions for your customers?
It’s absolutely vital, yes. FileMaker for example, is a prime example, as it has been around for thirty years, a long time compared to many other software platforms. It is being used successfully by millions of users, including many who are right on the cutting edge of technology – because they understand its underlying power, resilience, flexibility, ease of use and value.
Like any database, it needs to be implemented and built right first time, which makes a powerful case for getting a developer on board sooner rather than later. Systems, FileMaker or otherwise, that aren’t regularly fine-tuned can slow down to a crawl if they aren’t configured correctly – especially as the influx of data increases.
So in all, yes it’s important to be aware of potential Digital Dark Age scenarios. But, with the right software, backup and support, you stand a fighting chance of keeping all your mission-critical data and information safe, accessible and readable for many, many years to come.
Posted on 27th March 2015
Remember your first USB memory stick? More importantly, can you remember what was on it? We live in an age where we process more and more information every day, and technology advances exponentially to keep pace. However, what information is getting left behind? A misplaced USB stick, CD or floppy disk from years ago might not be a vital concern, but business-critical information and company data needs to be stored, backed up and available whenever you need it.
Digital dark age
Many digital experts have voiced concern that future generations won’t be able to access the documents and images that we’ve been saving on computers and various devices. This will be due to standards, software and hardware accelerating so fast that earlier versions quickly become obsolete, and thus eventually unreadable – a ‘digital dark age’.
Whilst there is probably nothing that the average person can do to stop the seemingly inevitable from happening (shy of printing everything out on paper, which creates its own problems), the chances of a company needing legacy data stretching back a generation is to be honest, quite slim for the here and now. It is however important to have software systems that communicate well with one another, to try and safeguard mission-critical data for as long as possible – and archiving in a way that preserves and adapts, to maintain readability with evolving hardware.
Problems arise when the opposite happens, and software systems don’t communicate well with each other. Businesses without integrated connected solutions may think that they have avoided becoming swamped in data, only to discover that a few years down the line they have to embark on an archaeological mission to unearth previous information as systems get upgraded or migrated. They fall into an early digital dark age, where historical, but relevant, information becomes unavailable or corrupted too easily as technology changes.
Technology past and present
Developers and business people know that the lifecycle of tech iterations (across both hardware and software) is shrinking as the market rapidly evolves. Put simply, they require systems that can adapt seamlessly should data require archiving, coupled with the option to access it years later. We only need to look back at what tools they were using five or ten years ago to see how far technology, and their own knowledge and capability has changed.
Consideration also has to be paid to end-users utilising systems that developers have created for them. Members of staff with relevant software/program knowledge will no doubt change over time, so new hires need to be able to access digital archives for information existing before their time. They certainly don’t want to be left in the dark when it comes to historical data access.
FileMaker: the business solution over the years
In April this year, FileMaker will have been in existence for three decades, and it shows no sign of slowing in its mission in helping organisations to manage all their vital data. These businesses know that their information is stored efficiently with access at any time, streamlining entire business operations. As data quantities increase and vary with business growth, so do the requirements of the software in operation behind the scenes. To avoid getting left behind, this software needs to adapt when required, just as FileMaker has – with data still accessible from any of its numerous versions.
Businesses need to stop storing information on paper, and disparate, fleeting software systems and transition to a tried and tested business solution. One that will help keep mission-critical data away from the dark side, for as long as technologically possible. This is important, as without historical information to look back on as a reference – we would soon forget how we got to where we are today. The same would ring true in the future, and it applies not only to the business world, but also the wider one as well.
Posted on 3rd March 2015
This post comes courtesy of Dr. Jon Jeffery, FileMaker Certified Developer at igeek.
The UK’s medical industry is a complex beast; incredibly departmentalised, incredibly varied. Differences in care can be very pronounced based on geography, type of illness, whether you’re a member of BUPA or whether you rely on our brilliant NHS – and everyone’s experiences differ. But, today the underlying belief is there that whatever your affliction, you’ll get the treatment you need to get better. Or at least the doctor will give it a good go…
Why is this?
The talent of healthcare professionals is a significant reason for excellence in healthcare. But those lifesaving practitioners also need help. To do their job each day, they rely on highly advanced medical technology. Be it in the chemical-synthesisation methods of the pills we swallow, or the fibre optic camera that allows diagnosis without a painful biopsy; technology and medicine are fused together. And this bond is only getting tighter.
It’s the driving force behind what classifies us as a first-world country in terms of our health service. From diagnosis, to treatment, to aftercare, technology in 21st Century healthcare is playing a vital role and it’s keeping hearts beating.
The doctor will see you now
So what about the role of the General Practitioner? How is your local surgery utilising the latest technology to aid patient care?
Well, chances are it’s not… at least, not much beyond booking appointments online. Back of house, many small surgeries and one-man-band consultants are still relying on outdated paper processes, clogged up phone switchboards and pages of scruffy handwritten notes. How do we know this? Well we’ve been told by industry professionals, who have come to us to ask for help in streamlining the way they do business.
For example, an endocrinologist based between two surgeries in Hertfordshire and London recently needed help coordinating his schedule, providing information to his patients and keeping his secretary (also based in Herts) in the loop with all his engagements. Using FileMaker, we built a custom business solution that, via WebDirect, allows him to log into his system at any time, anywhere (via the internet). This has freed him to check the status of his ongoing patients, where he needs to be and when, along with any actions he needs to carry out.
The other side of the coin can also easily be catered for. We built a patient-facing service into the same FileMaker system, allowing people to log into an area of the database and check their recent test results, or what dosage of medication they should be taking. As with all personal and medical information, privacy is paramount and via the advanced security of FileMaker, patients are provided with their own bespoke portal ensuring that only they have access to their data.
Prescribe your office some rest
With so many incredible innovations happening at the frontline of the medical world, you might expect the ‘easy win’ of office admin to be absolutely slick and streamlined. Sadly it often isn’t. Day-to-day operations, and accurately conveying and interpreting information are vital to all businesses, and these elements can’t be neglected.
GPs are under increasing pressure to take on more and more work, hours are getting longer and time more precious. That’s why employing a custom software solution can help doctors and consultants work smarter, reducing admin-neglect and meaning they can get on with the things that really matter – making people better.
Posted on 2nd March 2015
Film buff or not, you can’t have missed the hype for last week’s Oscars ceremony. Taking the plaudits in the ‘Achievement in visual effects’ category was space thriller Interstellar, with fellow intergalactic spectacular Guardians of the Galaxy nominated for its VFX work. Over 600 shots for Guardians were created by design studio Framestore, an institution familiar with Academy Awards, having been involved with Oscar-winning film Gravity last year.
The visual effects in these films are gaining critical acclaim thanks to the amazing technology and methods used to produce such impressive digital environments. So, the film industry is making the most of tech to produce the final product you see on your screens, but how is it being used behind the scenes?
Technology defying Gravity
Framestore’s award-winning work on Gravity required immense amounts of data to be stored and tracked. The handling of this huge volume of data is critical in the creative process, and so Framestore opted to develop its databases in FileMaker – enabling the inclusion of all manner of production information, right down to specific camera details on individual shots.
The technology used to film these shots and create the final product receive industry recognition at the highest level, and rightfully so. But like a gripping movie plot, there’s an unsung hero doing good quietly in the background. For Framestore, this hero comes in the guise of the mass storage of these shots through solutions like FileMaker.
Behind the scenes
The red carpet is rolled out for blockbusting special effects, but like any business, there is a supply chain and back-office technology that’s essential running the business smoothly. Warner Bros, like Framestore, has deployed a FileMaker solution that helps efficiently manage international regulatory compliance. The film giant’s European Technical Operations department is responsible for ensuring that films are localised and no regulations are breached when they are shipped to cinemas across the continent.
With FileMaker, Warner Bros developed a custom FileMaker solution for iPhones and iPads that allows staff to simply press a button to log an activity, and its exact time in the film, saving time and streamlining the whole process. This sort of efficiency helps keep these creative businesses innovative, as time and budget can then be better-invested in bringing jaw dropping entertainment to the big screen.
The Moneyball effect
Have you seen Moneyball? Another Oscar-nominated film, the biographical sports drama follows Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team, as he uses complex data to scout players for the struggling side, reversing their fortunes. Nowadays this is an everyday reality in the sporting world.
Tye Waller, first base coach at the Oakland A’s, is using FileMaker to create a database of his players and their opponents. This allows him to spot trends that would go unnoticed by many experienced scouts. Armed with vastly more data than even the keenest fan could remember, the team can assess where balls will be batted, who is pitching and help design more effective game strategies.Put simply, Waller is helping the team use data to get tangible results on the field.
The business of sport
The business of sport is not a small industry. Look at the Premier League and the recent broadcasting bidding war. The Premier League sold the right to broadcast its 2016 to 2019 matches to Sky Sports and BT Sport for a massive £5.14bn. However, whilst the Oakland A’s have taken an innovation and advanced it to other areas of its business, the Premier League still seems to lag behind the times. Goal-line technology has been introduced on the pitch, but clubs are still slowed down by paper-based processes in the back-office, for example with player trades. When will football clubs follow the example set in the US by Oakland and use the technology that’s readily available to up their game?
More than ever we are hearing about technology disruptors that are changing business. Innovation has to start somewhere – whether its behind the scenes of an Oscar-winning film or creating the sporting story for what becomes an Oscar-nominated script. How long until the footballing world, or other industries seemingly resistant to change, give unsung technology it’s starring role? We think there could well be a film in that…
Posted on 23rd February 2015
This post comes courtesy of Jordan Watson, FileMaker Developer at We Know Data.
Technology is firmly embedded in every industry, and the world of sport is no different – at least, it appears to be…
Professional sportsmen and women face increasing competition in their domain. World champions can be made or broken thanks to a single point, run, goal or split-second’s lead. Competitiveness is also becoming more ferocious, emotions run high and a ‘bad call’ by a referee or umpire can cause uproar.
To help keep a level playing field, many sports are adopting the latest technology in two areas:
In the development and training of athletes – ‘Sports science’ has become a buzz-phrase, strength and conditioning equipment is state-of-the-art and training facilities look like something out of Back to the Future. One example is GPS being used to track players during football training sessions; heart rate, skin temperature and g-force readings are recorded from ‘smart shirts’ and beamed in real-time back to a coach holding an iPad.
In the monitoring and analysis of games / matches – Then there are the more instrumental technologies that affect the way sport is now played: goal line technology, video referrals, Hawkeye camera tech in cricket and tennis, the list goes on. As mentioned previously, officials need the capability to make the right decisions, humans are not perfect and mistakes are simply part of our biology. Don’t get me wrong, the spontaneity of sport is fantastic, but when reputations, big money and people’s livelihoods are on the line you need to be able to analyse the game accurately.
There’s a lot of paper back here
Conversely to all the technology that’s being used in the public eye and in training sessions – the manager’s office and indeed, most back offices of large football / rugby / cricket / tennis clubs seem to be stuck in the 20th century.
Paper processes are rife; you only need to look at the football transfer window with paper flying back and forth through fax machines to see it’s still relied on heavily. When you do move into 0’s and 1’s; admin, finance, planning, lineups, kit lists, etc. seem to take the form of an Excel spreadsheet and then back to paper via a huge printer in the corner of a room. It seems bizarre that the technology contrast is so stark on the pitch and off it.
But I guess in that respect, it’s not too different from any other organisation that has been traditionally quite resistant to change. Let’s not forget how it’s taken to get some of these revolutionary technologies pitch-side.
The FileMaker developer’s debut
Cue the FileMaker developer… our industry has a real opportunity to make a huge change to many different vertical markets, and the sporting domain is no different (as evidenced by a recent FileMaker application for US baseball team, the Oakland A’s who featured in the recent Hollywood blockbuster, Moneyball). Imagine how much time and effort a club secretary, manager or coach could save by combining all the administrative work and planning they do day-in-day-out into one unified FileMaker solution.
Player health status, financial specifics and contractual information, kit ordering, overheads tracking, logistical information… just a few examples of what could be automated and streamlined via a comprehensive FileMaker solution.
What’s more, people would no longer be confined to the office either. FileMaker’s mobility options via WebDirect or FileMaker Go mean that data, updates and information can flow freely between the training facility and five miles down the road at the club, or even the other side of the world at an away game.
Pundits, players and fans alike have praised technological innovation on the pitch, so imagine how much time could be saved, and more to the point how much more could be accomplished when it’s off the pitch too…
Paper is definitely one player that shouldn’t be getting it’s contract renewed this year!
Posted on 30th January 2015
This post comes courtesy of Dr. Ben Fletcher, Director at DataTherapy
Today, we have got used to the idea that work should be able to happen anywhere – whether it’s accessing a CRM database, or simply completing a timesheet or application form. Developers need to be responsive to the fact that the work that they do needs to be instantaneously global and increasingly mobile.
Five years ago things were different. Security and performance were major sticking points for those considering putting their data into the cloud. Nowadays, as adoption rates have increased and software improvements have rolled out, customers are far keener to work in the cloud from day one. At a minimum, this completely removes the inconvenience of a purely on-premise data solution.
It’s a paradigm shift that has significantly changed the way that we as developers work. Where once our work would be localised to single geography, device and operating system; today we’re creating solutions that can be accessed from anywhere in the world and from many different devices. For the team here at DataTherapy, FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Go have opened this door..
Every device under the sun
As people become more device agnostic, it’s becoming increasingly important to offer solutions that seamlessly transition between desktop and mobile. Consumer software services such as Spotify and Netflix (SaaS in business speak) have led people to expect this. To enable this in a business context, thought must be given to how the solution is going to be used. Will ‘one user interface fits all’ be enough, or will you need to create custom interfaces optimised for each type of device, by leveraging device specific feature such as those available with FileMaker Go for iOS?
Asking yourself questions like these is a key challenge, and part of the balancing act of being both a developer and a business consultant. Technology is changing at such a pace; with new operating systems and new core technologies at every corner, it’s great fun and a fast evolving sector to work in. But as exciting as this is, keeping sight of the bigger picture is essential – you have to help clients understand the value and benefits that a bespoke solution can bring to their business.
Does your client need to upgrade *insert hardware / OS / software model here* version X to run their new FileMaker system, or can that run on their existing IT infrastructure? The most successful developers understand that there is always a balance to be struck between time, cost and features to deliver a new business system and make it a success. When you act as a consultant you need to leverage your development experience, and combine it with the client’s expert knowledge of their business to build the perfect solution.
Having this kind of wide-angle perspective means keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest technology trends. At DataTherapy, we’re certainly keeping our eyes on the rise of ‘wearables’. It hasn’t all gone swimmingly so far, as seen by the recent market exit of Google’s Glass, but an awful lot of momentum has been built up around the technology. It will be interesting to see how the software market evolves to cater for the multitude of wearable devices, and breeds new solutions in a business context.
2015 is shaping up to be a good one…
Ben is a FileMaker 13 Certified Developer and has a BSc and PhD in Human Genetics from University College London. He has over 10 years industry experience in developing bespoke database solutions using FileMaker.