I’ve been lucky enough to attend two major FileMaker events in North America within four months. FileMaker DevCon was the first last July, and most recently Pause on Error in October.

About Pause on Error

Where DevCon is the largest gathering of FileMaker Developers consisting of finely tuned sessions in large meeting rooms on a rigorous schedule, Pause on Error is small and geared toward think-tank style sessions. At Pause you’ll sit on the floor in a hotel room to discuss the finer aspects of FileMaker security or any one of a dozen other topics.

There is no better place to get face time with some of the best-known FileMaker developers out there. You will often overhear what if we did and wouldn’t it be cool if being passed around. There’s great things to see, techniques to learn and build upon, and plenty of frank discussions.

The two-day format is considerably shorter than DevCon, which I feel gives an attendee the ability to focus on learning specific details from the session rather than being lost in a sea of information. There was the right mix of social events as well.

Some quick tips

  • FileMaker password crackers operate on inserting a hash into a standalone file. You can secure your files against password cracking by using encryption at rest.
  • Adding an omit condition to your find request can slow it down considerably, especially if the omit condition is its own separate request.
  • Fast Summaries is a technique I had heard of but never learned. It was demonstrated and now that I’ve seen it in action, it’s a must-learn for any FileMaker developer’s skill set.
  • Chih Hsiao, senior user experience developer at FileMaker, had a session on design that was excellent and full of tips. Some of the concepts he introduced were beginning layouts for beginning users, where a user can learn FileMaker on a basic layout and build on that basic knowledge when using more complex layouts.
  • Optimize your solution by looking for repetitive tasks and exploiting those tasks in design. For instance, if you currently have to navigate to another layout to view customer invoices, but your billing department is regularly going there 50 times per day to look to see if there are outstanding invoices for a customer. By taking out those 50 actions, which in turn, are actually hundreds of individual actions, and replacing it with a single visual flag you will increase your users’ efficiency and improve their experience.
  • Considering optimization development versus efficiency is often overlooked, but massively important, I recommend bookmarking this chart that helps calculate how long you can work on making a routine task more efficient before you’re spending more time than you save.

Speaking at Pause

Speaking at Pause on Error is a completely different experience than at DevCon and in many ways it’s more relaxing. There is less to prepare and you have a small, adept audience. Presenting in a hotel room also relaxes your session a lot. My presentation was in a small suite on the fourth floor of the hotel, with a dozen developers crowded around a 36-inch TV and my laptop. It was a great experience. You can find out more about my session along with presentation materials on how to pass URL parameters to WebDirect.

The Game

I had the pleasure of taking part in the FileMaker trivia contest, which I’m sure was just as amusing for the audience as it was for me. Unfortunately my fellow Ohioan Dan Weiss and I both lost the heated contest to Tanner Ellen of Seedcode. It turns out my knowledge of FileMaker history is sorely lacking since I started developing in version 8!

Portland Area

I don’t think there could have been a better location for an event like this. The Ace Hotel was about as quirky as they come, seeing as you had to walk outside and around the corner to get to the primary meeting space.

Portland is a city full of great food, great coffee, and yes, everything Portlandia told you as well. As a member of the Yelp Elite Squad, I regularly seek out the local food underground hotspots. I didn’t have a ton of time to explore, but here’s a quick list of places to make sure you check out if you travel there: Powell’s Books, Blue Star Donuts, Stumptown Coffee, Kenny & Zuke’s Deli, Pearl Bakery, Boxer Ramen, 808 Grinds (Hawaiian food truck, get the loco moco!), Moonstruck and Cacao.

Overall, it was a great time at Pause on Error, and hopefully it will be an event that continues!

 

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