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DevCon 2018 Review

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David Jondreau

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DevCon 2018 was held at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center win Dallas, Texas from August 6th through the 9th and it was a great event.

The Gaylord Texan (GT) is a destination unto itself. It’s enormous with several acres of open ground enclosed by a dome and a combination of a convention hotel and a family destination. There were a couple other conferences going on, including, notably, QuakeCon with hundred of video game fans hauling their heft PC towers and giant monitors through the lobby. There was plenty for kids to do like a couple of Smurf villages and a live action Gargamel, an Escape Room, a pair of pools, and a full-bore water park. The gym was substantial for a hotel and there were four in-hotel restaurants, not that we needed any. The conference-provided food was plentiful, delicious, and Texan-themed.

The GT was an A+ hotel choice for DevCon.

FMI staff did a great job with registration and sessions. As a first-time speaker this year, I had a different view from years past. I skipped more sessions than I normally would to prepare and was acutely aware of room sizes and audio/visual infrastructure. And I got to see how FMI treated its presenters. With no reservations, I felt everything was handled professionally and generously. Everyone was just real nice and got their jobs done, mostly notably (for us speakers) Eric Evers and Rosemary Tietge. What more could you ask for?

The main events: the Keynote, Special Session, Attendee Party, and Closing Session & Awards Presentation were stellar. These were all held in a giant ballroom, away from the main convention center and session rooms where they had the space to hold all attendees.

The Keynote (the specifics being under a non-disclosure request) demonstrated a few important things. One is that FMI has listened to the FileMaker developer community’s complaints over years and become vastly more transparent about the future of the product. FMI has been presenting roadmaps and future release information for a couple years now, and they’re continuing with the openness. Also, it’s clear that FMI is embracing multiple technologies, with a goal for FileMaker to be integrated with all available web technologies.

This is a big step for FMI to embrace.

If FM developers work with other technologies, if they become fluent in Javascript and JSON, plumb the depths of APIs and REST, couldn’t they just leave FileMaker and move into other areas? That has to be a concern of FMI. But FMI clearly believes its product adds value to the wider tech stack and they’re pushing forward and that’s amazing. It’s shedding any vestige of an inferiority complex.

The Tuesday morning Special Session gave FMI’s marketing department an important voice.The main speaker for this, Richard Cox Braden was inspiring. A fantastic choice. With the new designation of “Workplace Innovation Platform”, FileMaker is claiming its spot between expensive enterprise software and free / low cost general-use utility apps. It’s a good place to be.

Texas was the big theme at the convention and the attendee party included live country music, line dancing, and barbecue. Also giant a cornhole game with the boards painted as the Texas state flag. Plus giant chess sets, soccer billards, and regular shufflepuck. It was super fun.

The closing session was as well-produced as the rest, with good-natured announcements of various community awards, and a lot of humor.

The whole conference was simply a great event.

I know I sound like a gushing schoolboy here, but if there’s nothing worth criticizing, I’m not going to throw in some minor objection just to appear balanced. This was an extraordinarily well-organized event and I’m proud to have been a small part of it.

 


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