Since Claris Connect was officially released to the public back in 2020, this technology extension to the Claris FileMaker Pro platform has gone through a major evolution.
When we were first introduced to it, we saw its potential to make connections to other systems via open APIs easier and more accessible than writing traditional code, and as a plug-in vendor, we saw it as a major rival to replace a large swath of FileMaker plug-ins available – some of which are ours.
However, what was painfully clear in those early years, was that Claris Connect’s place within the overall platform and marketplace needed time to bake. Back then Claris was responsible for making all the connectors that were available and even though they created connectors to integrate with many of the major software vendors, there was no way they could keep up with all the APIs that were available in the world. Many of the original connectors were also far too shallow in connection points and functionality to be useful for large, complicated deployments. Another problem that hindered adoption was the relatively high initial price point of using or even testing Claris Connect. With a price point that didn’t reflect the value the technology brought to a customer’s project, it hadn’t lived up to its promises…yet.
But Claris never sat back on its heels and they continued to read the market and refine the technology – never giving up on its original idea. Custom connectors, or the ability for a 3rd party developer/vendor to write their own connector, I recall had always been on the list of future technology enhancements. For our company, this had been the largest hurdle in adopting the Claris Connect technology. As a custom developer, you never want to run out of runway with a technology on any project you are working on and the introduction of us being able to write our own connector just extended that technology runway out to the horizon. The other major breakthrough in getting customers and developers to adopt and more specifically try the technology, was to introduce a freemium price point that is quite valuable for small deployments. Small deployments grow up to be large deployments and this free onramp allows customers and developers to have a low risk option to become familiar with and test out the technology.
Custom connectors not only remove developers’ anxiety about running into connector limitations during API integration projects, but they also open up a whole new opportunity for vendors to produce connectors to sell to other developers and users within the Claris FileMaker marketplace. Creating a custom connector takes the same skillset that one would need to perform an API integration. Not the easiest skillset to obtain, but not unachievable either. You need to have a foundation knowledge about how Claris Connect works and you need to know how API’s work. Both of these skillsets are taught in two separate courses at our Productive Computing University and access to these courses can be purchased separately or as part of our University Bundle. A University Bundle gives you access to all the paid course materials at PCU.
Different than performing a custom API integration today, which is hard to pick up and move from one customer to the next, the advent of creating a custom connector allows you to easily reuse integration code from one project to the next. You can even sell/license that modular connector code to other developers in the community or take what others have written and customize it for your own needs.
We created a sample custom connector, sample FileMaker file, and video tutorial for the WeatherBit.io API as a free lesson in our FileMaker Features and Free Resources course at Productive Computing University to give you an overview of how this is done.
The software of tomorrow will all connect to other systems and the easier that is for users and developers to do with the FileMaker Platform is key to its survival in the competitive SaaS marketplace.
Claris Connect has come of age and has now realized the promises made when it was conceived years ago. I for one am excited to see what new opportunities this will bring to customers and the developer community alike. Creating connectors for obscure connection points will be a niche along with providing opportunities to support customers and developers on connectors they are building for themselves.
In the end, providing lower-cost, easier-to-implement integrations for customers using mature connectors that are widely available and supported is going to be a foundational element inside the Claris FileMaker app and skillset of the professional Claris FileMaker developers of tomorrow.
Other products and services we offer:
- What can PCI do for you? – Overview Video of Productive Computing Services
- Consulting and Development – services billed by the hour
- Maintenance and Support – services billed monthly
- Packaged Services – flat fee for Health Assessment, Server Installation, etc.
- Plug-ins – tools to integrate with QuickBooks, Outlook, Google, etc.
- Core CRM Pro – customizable and scalable CRM built on FileMaker
- Claris and FileMaker Licensing – discounts on new seats and renewals
- FileMaker and QuickBooks Hosting – options to host your files in the cloud
- Productive Computing University – free and paid online video training courses for beginner to advanced users and developers
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