I'd love to... but I don't suppose the $100 will cover the airfare :-)
Well... Thanks Dave... but I must now admit that I won't be able to get there in time anyway...
On the 16th I have tickets to the last-ever Brisbane Wiggles concert and I'm taking my 19yro and my 14yo daughters and my 18yo neice. They have never seen them. Murray (Red) is my cousin... but I haven't seen him for about 23 years. Should be interesting...
I think such a program is of limited value, since the participants are limited to those in one geographic area, for a limited period of time, and will reflect only those who can afford to spend the time required for only $100. This, I think, has been the problem all along with changes to FileMaker: they too often reflect the needs of only a very narrow range of developers. That, plus the fact that developers who have spent a considerable amount of their time (unpaid) giving feedback, as well as beta testers, only to find that their requests and advice are either ignored or that FMI has taken the product in a direction which actually discourages our clients from upgrading, let alone brings in more development work.
I urge you to look at all the posts regarding FMP12 -- especially on other forums, where posters feel that they can speak more freely. This release was a disaster for most of our clients. I have had only 2 clients willing to upgrade to ver 12 -- both of them new to FileMaker who had never had a database before, and with deep enough pockets to upgrade all their machines to run it at speeds approaching the demos I showed them in FMP11. While I am sure the situation is different for every developer, the vast majority of those whom I have spoken to, in private and off the record, are in a similar situation to me: Our clients want their databases to perform as fast as ALL functions in ver 11, or faster. They want to fit more fields, portals, etc. on screen and see any UI elements that take up more space or appear to be designed just to look nice as a waste. These are organizations that are run primarily in FMP and couldn't care less about changes to the app that benefit iPad or iPhone users. (And those that do certainly aren't willing to sacrafice one iota of desktop performance or functionality for it.) They simply will not spend more for a new version of FMP that forces them to work slower, doesn't print as well, or reduces the number of tasks they can do now or does them less well. Most are staying with their current version. Some Mac users are switching to Windows. Some Mac and Windows users are looking for alternatives to FileMaker. Few want to spend any more on developing their solutions (i.e. the work they hire me to do) until they are convinced that FMI is not heading in the opposite direction to where they want to go. If the next version doesn't do it, I am afraid that both FMI and my company will lose them as customers.
If you really want to improve FMP, the company should be contacting all developers, interviewing them in depth about what the problems are and then actually rectifying those that will benefit most developers. But, to get them to participate, FMI really needs to do some repair work on its relationship with its developers -- that means demonstrating that it will actually take the advice given and be able to demonstrate a valid reason for not implementing the changes it rejected. ("Because we can sell more iPods if we don't" may help Apple's bottom line, but it will not cut it with any of the developers I know.)
Thanks Dave for all your hard work. We appreciate the fact that FMI is reaching out...since that is what we have long been asking for. I, and many others, like the direction FileMaker is going. And with a few bug fixes, FM will be stronger than ever.
Kudos FMI. Wish I could make it in...but it's just too far away. I'll look forward to some remote events along the same lines.
I think that you are tripping over your own feet with these two points.
I think such a program is of limited value, since the participants ... will reflect only those who can afford to spend the time required for only $100.
If you really want to improve FMP, the company should be contacting all developers, interviewing them in depth about what the problems are and then actually rectifying those that will benefit most developers.
If a $100 reimbursement isn't sufficient for an evening session, where are you going to find all the high-value developers who will set aside time for in depth interviews?
I think it's fantastic that Filemaker is doing this sort of research. People who are interested and motivated would probably attend for free and, as you've noticed, the money is not payment, it's a gesture, a "thank you" gift. It may encourage people to participate, knowing that the money will cover their out-of-pocket costs.
The other thing is, Filemaker itself will be full of people who are great programmers and love filemaker. They don't have a shortage of smarties, they can find them hanging around the office. It's the rest of us that they want to talk to.
Thanks everyone for the words of support and the constructive criticism. I certainly take no offense, and I'm sure no one else here at HQ does either. I completely empathize with the sentiments of those who feel slighted because it's so localized to our home base. Unfortunately, it's just not that easy to take a study like this on the road. I'm not sure exactly how this study is being conducted, since my involvement ends at posting the invites in the community, but I have been involved in UI/UX testing in the past, and when these things are done right they usually require a "lab" style setup with individual workstations for the users, recording the proceedings, and may even sometimes incorporate psychologists and/or psychometric consultants observing the users from behind two-way mirrors. Again, I'm not sure this one will be that extensive, but I'm sure there are logistics involved that make it far less mobile than we would all like for it to be. As always, thanks for your passion for FileMaker.
I think, in practice, the $100 compensation means the results will be scewed in favor of part time or less successful developers (who do it simply because they need the money) and the biggest companies who have excecs with developers under them (who do little or no coding themselves and can afford to spend time on something like this). Though, obviously, limiting the geographic location is more serious.
FileMaker has conducted surverys, once in a while, but they seemed to be designed to convince respondents not to find fault with the company, rather than address shortcomings which prevent developers from doing what our clients want with FileMaker, costing us jobs and suppressing sales of FMP. (To give just one of many such issues with FMP12: Printing & PDF generation. The quality is just terrible, when compared to earlier versions. Even after the all the updates. To organizations that depend on high quality output from their solutions, uprgading would be professional sucicide. The printed materials they send to their customers are a reflection of their companies. They will not under any circumstances upgrade until the quality is restored at least to its previous level. They don't care one bit that it supports a higher resolution on the iPad -- which is too small and too underpowered to be used at their employees workstations in a business of any size -- because that is not seen by their customers and doesn't help their bottom line.)
I speak as sole proptietorship (as I believe most FMP developers are) who has, more times than I care to remember, spent my valuable time bringing serious real world issues to the attention of FMI, based on my experience of developing with it for about 20 years (and having used several other DBMS' prior to that). While they claim to want to help, they almost never actually address the problems and tend to be very defensive about their product, to the point of being in denial sometimes. (To give just one example: I found that some of my clients crash FMP because they habitually try to shut it down while a script is running. This is common in large nonprofit orgs, where there is a high turnover in data entry staff, often vollunteers. To prevent this from happening, I would have a script that runs when the solution is closed. It simply interrupts the running script with a close application step. FMI changed this behavior in ver 10 or 11, so that existing solutions with my closing script could not be shut shut down without aborting FMP from the OS. When asked to address this issue, the response I got from FMI was that allowing such a closing script to run was a "bug" affecting every single version of FMP until that time. It could not name any developer or client who had ever asked for this, nor name any benefit for it.)
My advice to FMI -- Skip the session, save the compensations, and do a real survey for everyone that suggests you are really serious about improving this product, its sales, and your relationship with your developers. Even a blank form that simply says "Tell us what's wrong and what you'd like us to fix or change." And then FOLLOW UP on it and actually make the changes that would improve FMP in the way that it is used in the real world (the businessess and nonprofits who depend on it to run their organizations). Otherwise, I'm afraid FMP will become a toy, the first time a competitor gives you serious competition. You won't get a lot of cooperation from customers intitially, because your users tell me that they have been frustrated so often in the past when trying to deal with your company. (I live outside of NYC, where FMP is being used in large, prestigious organizations for mission crtical solutions. The overwhelming majority of the tech support calls I receive are complaints about the shortcomings of FMP and the way they are treated when they try to speak you about this. Even when they find a rep who will take them seriously no improvements that I know of have ever been made to the product to address their concerns.) But keep at it. Be straight with us. Be businesslike. Take your customers seriously. Tell them what you want to do before you spend lots of resources doing it, only to find that they didn't want it and won't upgrade to it.
Thanks for that response.
Having been very vocal over the years about running DevCon somewhere other than the US (and often suggesting Byron Bay or the Gold Coast in Australia), I know I am always being unreasonable because of logistics. That doesn't stop me 'cause in saying it to others on this or other lists I get a chance to 'get it off my chest'. Sometimes in the 'colonies' of the FM world we do feel a bit isolated by the distance.
I think it has been pretty wonderful the changes over the past couple of years that have allowed us to be a bit more connected and have this sort of discussion direct with the personnel 'on-the-ground' as FMI. It is really cathartic to have a good vent and your answers are honest and show understanding. Thank you.
>I think, in practice, the $100 compensation means the results will be scewed in favor of part time or less successful developers
I think there is enough fat in budgets of some of the more successful developer organisations to take the day off. It will be smaller sole-proprietors like yourself (and me) who would find it more difficult to get away. $100 is not much when you have a couple of thousand dollars of work on your plate.
I don't think it is wrong to get the 'less successful developers' too. They will learn things from them too as they might have the less obvious problems with interface issues or such. One hopes they would be competent enough to keep up the pace with the others in the group... but otherwise it might give FMI really valuable info about their product. I used to sit my children down to do user testing... now they are too old and too clever ;-)
I have no objection to FMI sampling the best and least acomplished users. I'm just saying their sample set is too narrow and that it probably excludes the largest demographics (professional, sole proprietorships and DIY end users) -- and that, for a product like FMP that is used worldwide, surverys should not be confined to one city in the U.S.
Ya know, even some of the "less successful" developers may want to do it for same reasons as everyone else ... which has nothing to do with the money but that they too probably care about having a good product. In fact, if they were less successful and they lived further than few hundred miles, it would be a bigger financial hit for them than for others.
And Californians suffer the same poor aspects in building solutions that we all face and I personally would not mind them being our base sample. How can you say who might be willing to fly from Europe to get the chance, or which mid-sized in-house developer next door to them will blow off the chance? Judgements and globalizations should remain in courthouses and politics. :-)
And THANK YOU FMI for turning our direction.
As for larger sampling being more valuable, well of course. But you could say that in one sentence without painting those that may respond as losers or locals with $100 as their motive.