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Claris Engage conference thoughts

After five years of pause, Claris finally invited everyone to an in-person conference. It was a bit different with a chance to visit an Apple campus in Austin, Texas. About 620 people came and we had a great conference.

The weather was great for winter times. We feared it could be cold and freezing, but it turned out to be a very nice week with sunshine and above 20 degrees Celsius. I could walk outside with just a t-shirt.

These office buildings from Apple are phenomenal. Well designed with a lot of details to discover. We had over a dozen meeting rooms for presentations and lots of smaller rooms in various sizes for your own meet-ups. And the basement has a nice theater with a few hundred seats for the big sessions. The keynote was split in two rooms since all people don't fit in one room here.

The food was excellent. The chefs did a great job to provide healthy food with various options. I love to read the ingredients and even the packaged food was surprisingly healthy. Mostly organic and without preservatives and other additives you may be prefer not to eat. Food and beverages were available on all floor levels. Multiple snack and beverage stations spread per level and lunch boxes in the bigger rooms with tables to sit down together.

We had a lot of time to talk to Claris staff. They had a booth on the second level to stop by. Great to meet new faces and say Hello. And of course you can pitch your favorite feature request or your most beloved bug to them.

The sessions were amazing, congratulations to the speakers! When you see the recordings, you may pick up a lot of details from them. Like Wim's security session is basically a checklist on what to check in your solutions. Clay and Lucy presented what is in development for FileMaker Pro and Server and certainly interesting to know. Especially the little half sentences on directions they like to take. When you get the examples from Ronnie for AI things, you may just copy them over to your solution and let the AI make charts for your users. If you ever considered making a product from a solution, check Joseph's session about SBA.

From the announcements of Claris, we appreciate their on-going effort to optimize the platform and allow more connections/users on a server, raising the bar for web direct recently to 1000 users*. The upcoming support for Let's Encrypt It certificates is very welcome as it allows you to basically define a subdomain for every server and then auto generate a certificate. They showed interest in AI enhancements to the product and on-going improvements to Claris Studio with coming embedding of Studio views in FileMaker Pro. Seems like Claris also gets interested into improving the developer experience in the future, so some of our MBS Plugin features in the script workspace may come built-in. If you like to learn more about the keynote, please watch RCC's keynote recap.

Various sponsors had booths in the hallways on multiple levels. Great to see the third-party ecosystem around FileMaker. But curious why Proof+Geist's FMPerception, BaseElements and beeswax's Inspector were all lined up next to each other. You could just go around with your database and check whose database analysis tool is best for you. This year MBS skipped the booth and I enjoyed the freedom to walk around instead of babysitting a booth. But we may get a booth next time and come with 2 or 3 people, so there is always someone at the booth.

What could we wish for the next years? 

The next conference should go back to a bigger format. Like give all partners a chance to come and have a higher capacity. Location and time is important to consider as lots of non-US visitors come for multiple days and like to combine their visit to the conference with a bit of vacation. Especially if they can bring family along like some did for the conference in Orlando.

The trainings on the first day attract new users to the platform to come and learn about FileMaker. I talked to a few attendees there and the training + conference in one trip seems to be easier to sell to a boss than just a conference. And bonus, they learnt a lot!

Having a dedicated hotel with 1000 rooms would allow everyone to stay in one place and provide space for more of the casual meetings before and after the conference. I didn’t find anyone before or after the conference since we were spread over 5 or more hotels.

The Apple conference space seems to be a great choice. Many hotels don’t have such a nice conference space. Maybe it is because everything is quite new as the buildings have been built just a few years ago. We hope Apple has more of them available for future conferences if Claris likes to keep using Apple’s facilities.

We look forward to the announcements for the next conferences. For the time being, please check the other conferences here.

* 1 Database Server, 10 WebDirect servers and a reverse proxy with a load balancer. These 12 can be VMs or dockers, so you may not need 12 physical machines, but more like 3 or 4.
10 02 24 - 17:22