Sessions, Parties and Information Overload: Tuesday’s FileMaker DevCon Wrap-up.

p. You can always tell when I’m at a good conference, the longer the week goes, the later my updates get. It’s a good thing that this one is wrapping up today.

p. Tuesday was another interesting day at the FileMaker DevCon in Orlando, FL. They have a heavy concentration of PHP in their sessions this year and a lot of developers here are either already deploying PHP or looking at it long and hard. I did detect a note of cynicism in the voice of one presenter as he described the PHP push by FileMaker. His comments were along the lines of “FileMaker’s choice for web deployment is PHP…this year.” Honestly though, that’s as negative as it got. Most of the developers fall into one of 3 groups.

# Not doing anything with the Web
# No projects immediately but want to know more about PHP
# Projects already running and they are here to soak up the PHP goodness.

p. DSCN1690 After Jeff Benjamin’s “Install, Configure and Deploy PHP and FileMaker” session, I had the privilege of talking with Bill Harman. Bill works with the Montgomery Country Public Schools in Rockville, MD. He has an existing FileMaker application that tracks “Science Kits” for teachers. When a teacher knows they will be teaching a particular Science unit, they turn in paperwork to the office to let Bill and his crew know which unit and how many students. Bill and his crew gather all the materials, from workbooks to experiments, and crate them in milk crates for the teacher. At the appropriate time, the crate is delivered by one of Bill’s crew to the appropriate school and teacher. Once the unit is complete, someone picks it back up, checks in the kit and deconstructs it to reuse what can be reused.

p. Bill is looking to PHP to allow him to put the ordering system online to eliminate the paperwork and streamline the operation. In addition, his school system is now selling these Science kits to neighboring school systems. An online shopping cart would allow teachers from other systems to log in and purchase the kits their system has approved for purchase. It sounds like a fascinating system and a great example of using FileMaker and PHP together, each playing to it’s own strengths.

p. Russell Kon did an interesting presentation titled “Use FileMaker Pro 8.5 in a Web 2.0 World” in which he basically used FileMaker to build a Mashup between his corporate data and the Weatherbug API. I’ll confess that I live in a Web world and sometimes forget that many developers don’t have access to the wealth of APIs in their applications that those of us on the web do. It was great to see the reaction from the crowd as they really began to see how the Web, APIs and PHP can work with their existing systems to allow them to add value in new and creative ways.

p. The Guys from FMWebSchool I had a chance to sit down with Stephen Knight and Michael Petrov of “FMWebSchool”: and talk with them for about 30 minutes on some exciting projects that are working on. FMWebSchool is a champion of PHP in the FileMaker community and has been for quite some time. In addition to writing an authoritative book on the use of FX.PHP with FileMaker, they are also producing tools that will assist FileMaker developers in converting older “CDML” applications to PHP. I’ll publish the entire interview as I get it transcribed.

p. Unfortunately, since I am a speaker at the conference, I had to spend a good chunk of the rest of the day in my room, working on my slides. I did take a break long enough to interview Eric Jacobson of FileMaker on his role at FileMaker, and the direction that they are in going with PHP and web technologies in general. Look for that exclusive interview in the coming weeks.

p. Dancing Couple DSCN1708 Finally, the evening ended in a dinner party sponsored by “SeedCode”: The dinner hall was transformed with dimly lit night-club atmosphere. The tables, all glowed different colors and every 5 minutes they would change. (No it was useless to tell people you were sitting at the blue table in the corner.) Bob Florino spun tunes for the evening ranging from pop to swing with a heavy concentration on the latter. There was even a couple who danced for a while. It was a great party that went late into the evening. A good time was had by all.

p. I’ll finish up with pictures of my dinner companions from last night’s party. Ty Lonis, Chuck Kubiak and Nick Salonen. It was a pleasure talking with each of you over the wonderful meal. Good food, good conversation and not a bad glass of Chardonnay, I’d say it was a good evening.

p. Ty Lonius Chuck Kibiak Nick Salonen

p. That’s it for Tuesday. Look for the final wrap-up sometime this weekend after I recuperate from the good food, great parties and information overload.

p. =C=