Another post talked a little about user groups and their value for finding and recruiting talent but of course their biggest benefit is professional development. Talking with and learning from other developers that work on the same platform is invaluable.
I am very lucky in that I get to participate in the Southern Ontario FileMaker Alliance (aka SOFA) here in Toronto – a group of talented FileMaker developers that meet about once a month. I'm a relative newcomer (three years) to the group which has been running for more than fifteen. They are a really talented and generous group of FileMaker professionals (this year three of them will be speaking at FileMaker Devcon, a remarkable achievement) who happily share their work and expertise with others.
The last meeting is a great example. Put together on very short notice it was relatively informal – a chance for members to show any interesting work that they had been doing. After a brief, and very valuable discussion of SSL certificates, there were seven individual presenters.
All were excellent. During three of them I was on the edge of my seat because the material was so relevant to things I'm working on right now. I was doing follow-up research on the way home and made plans for implementation the next morning.
Three other sessions were also excellent, demonstrating very high-level FileMaker solutions and techniques. I'm trying to figure out how I might be able to use them.
The remaining presenter, Charles Delfs (a friend/colleague/collaborator and brilliant FileMaker developer) demonstrated some of the fantastic work that he has done on FloristWare. Other people have tackled the same problem, and come up with their own solutions, but Charles has a solution that is non-fragile, modular, lightweight and very portable. It has been a huge improvement for FloristWare. Charles also demonstrated another solution, one for monitoring FileMaker servers, that is a great showcase for some really advanced multi-threading techniques. By the way – that is Charles in the picture up at the top.
The SOFA meetings are organized by Doug Gardner, another excellent FileMaker developer and the founder of Exoteric Inc., a premier database consultancy and FileMaker platinum partner in Toronto. The meeting space is arranged by Beatrice Beaubien, one of the loveliest and most gracious people I have ever been lucky enough to meet.