1 2 3 Previous Next 77 Replies Latest reply on Aug 11, 2016 1:49 AM by alangodfrey

    Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons

    c0nsilience

      Since developers seem to be curious creatures by nature, I thought it might be fun interesting to share some of our perspectives on the good and bad of this elegant platform.  Without further adieu, here goes:

       

      The Good

      • "Good products sell themselves" - FM is easy to get passionate about, so evangelism seems like an eventual side affect.
      • Right Brain vs. Left Brain = moot point - Good development requires design aesthetic, as well as, Occam's Razor.
      • FileMaker is an intuitive platform - much easier to get an ROI with quick development time.
      • Scalability, it isn't just for Spiderman - With proper planning, FM databases can grow as your client's business does.
      • Adaptability...enough to make Darwin blush.

       

      The Bad

      • What's FileMaker? - some IT folks have never heard of it, so it can be a hard sell to those that think iPads are toys.
      • Apple owns it - this is a boon to me, but there are some companies that just don't like Apple.....crazy, right?
      • Non-Linux flavored
      • Can be a little costly with concurrent connections - not Oracle costly, but a little costly.
      • End users don't like change - Yep, this isn't the Sharepoint system that you're used to......oh, this is infinitely better!

       

      Anything that you devs would like to add or elaborate on, please do.  This community is a wonderful resource for all of us!

        • 1. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
          PeterWindle

          The Good:

          I love what I do, FileMaker is the only tool I know of that gets my thought into actions quickly, I'm so glad I don't have to "code".

          The flexibility of FileMaker is incredible, especially with layout design.

          The simplicity for the user is awesome. Very little is required for users to understand and use the product.

           

          The bad:

          I have to be honest, there have been some failings in the product's capabilities, as well as bugs never fixed, that have left me cranky. Things that it should do and just does not, or if it does, it does not do it well enough. I've lost clients because of it. I've had to say no to certain projects because I know FM can't do it and introducing "work arounds" using 3rd party solutions (plugins etc) has been problematic - 3rd party providers and solutions have proven to be hit and miss. Not reliable enough to build solutions on.

           

          Within the IT world, FileMaker is NOT taken seriously, especially for web based applications. Because it's "proprietary" file format I think it introduces a fear factor. I understand and appreciate why FM have done it "differently", however, I think unless IT organisations (especially within the Windows world) don't recognise the file format as being a commonly used one (by multiple application building environments) then they won't accept it at all.

           

          The worst part about these aspects is that being a "lone gun" (run my own business with only my myself to rely on), I'm finding it very difficult to find FileMaker work... it's a small niche market. I'm putting myself through a course, looking at getting certified and hoping that this might open some doors to more work. I hope it pays off, because right now, this love of FileMaker is not paying my rent, in fact, it's barely paying enough to keep the business going.

          • 2. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
            erolst

            Nicely written list, but don't give up your day job yet to become a pro writer – especially not …

            c0nsilience wrote:

            Without further adieu

            Maybe you meant: “without so much as a 'by your leaf'“ ?

             

            Let me add …

             

            The Ugly:

            FM Inc. is even more tight-lipped than its mother company when it comes to new versions and road-maps; compare a preview for registered (and paying!) devs only vs. a Public Beta for Yosemite, and an NDA-protected Developers Conference keynote speech “in camera” vs. one that is publicly broadcasted.

            • 3. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
              mikebeargie

              I don't find a lot of those to be necessarily "bad". EG linux is client supported via WebDirect (yeah, not server), I can get around concurrent connections with sync solutions, and I'm not rubbing it in my clients face that FMI is an Apple subsidiary.

               

              I've had to deal with my fair share of stodgy IT admins who still think that blackberry is the most secure device for business applications. I feel more sorry for their users that have to suffer using IE6 and microsoft office 2007 than I do for not trying to appeal to them. Companies that try to leverage technology tend to have fewer of these "sticks in the mud" to deal with.

               

              I agree with erolst, enough that it's bad and not really ugly. FMI has become a little more transparent to me in the past few years, but I think that's in part due to my growth within the community. Also PeterWindle raises a good point, FMI has some long outstanding bugs (EG PDF send as email freeze in FMGo) that noticeably impact a lot of us. I make it a point to re-report a bug everytime it comes up, if it's obscure and only one user in tens of thousands is affected, then what motivation is there to fix it other than "polish"?

               

              *speculation* I do think it's publicly assessable that FMI has a limited amount of development resources, and that there's a delicate balance between new features/releases and bug corrections. I do feel that FMI will continue to better that balance as (or if) the platform sales continue to grow. I think that as a subsidiary, there probably is pressure on FMI to stay profitable, so rather than having a down quarter by investing in resources to fix issues immediately, they spread out their resources and roadmap over a finite budgeted year(s), this would make sense considering some bugs are long outstanding while the releases come at a more normalized rate.

              • 4. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                TimDietrich

                A quick comment on the "we've never heard of FileMaker" and "oh, it's owned by Apple" arguments.

                 

                Position your business so that simply you don't have to fight those battles.

                 

                What I mean by that is this: If you position your business correctly (join the FBA, blog about FileMaker - what it is capable of and what you've done with it, etc), then prospective clients will come to you instead of you having to chase after them.

                 

                And they'll be pre-qualified prospects, too. They will have already decided (or at least heavily leaning towards the decision) that FileMaker platform is a good choice for them. That makes the process of landing the prospect significantly easier.

                 

                If done right, you can make a very good living as a FileMaker developer / consultant.

                 

                - Tim

                • 5. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                  nicolai

                  The Good

                   

                  • it is almost fashionable between FileMaker Developers to talk negatively about FileMaker as a product and as a company. My question is, why the same developers stick with the platform for decades? I know of a very few developers who actually left, but majority carries on. I think the reason is the same as why I am using it after 15 years - it is fast  to develop in and does most of the things I need.
                  • According to DB-Engines Ranking FileMaker is the16th most popular database engine in the world

                   

                  The Bad

                   

                  • Any software has bugs and weird things built-in. I just tend to get on with it.
                  • Not sure if I like new licensing
                  • 6. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                    erolst

                    Mike Beargie wrote:

                    I agree with erolst, enough that it's bad and not really ugly.

                     

                    Whenever I read “The Good, the Bad … ” I just cannot help but … well.

                     

                    So I chose that category more for style, and am d'accord with you that “Bad” is bad enough … 

                    • 7. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                      erolst

                      nicolai wrote:

                      • it is almost fashionable between FileMaker Developers to talk negatively about FileMaker as a product and as a company.

                       

                      That strikes me as perception bias: disgruntled customer/users tend to be more vocal than the satisfied ones (or simply vocal period).

                       

                      Every long-term relationship will see its fair amount of (good-natured, loving) bitching; that isn't (necessarily) a measure of the quality of said relationship.

                       

                      (Of course there is bitching, and then there is bitching, and we all know some certain individuals who are notorious for the latter …)

                      • 8. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                        c0nsilience

                        Hi gentlemen,

                         

                        Yeah, this was intended more as an expository piece on the upsides and downsides to earning a living as an FM developer; not so much the good and bad of FM.

                         

                        From my own experience, having worked in other markets that are outside the scope of technology and are completely saturated, FM development has been a breath of fresh air to me.  I've been consistently able to eek out a pretty good living through it and generally have no complaints.  Having run the gamut of .NET, Sharepoint, mySQL and Access systems, I've found FM to be really, really intuitive to use.

                         

                        I view FMI in the same way that I view Apple (perhaps, Apple from years past): small groups of smart people, which is also how I view this community.  Yes, there are some big players and leaders in the field, but the market is relatively unsaturated and the mobile aspects are just a bonus.

                         

                        Given the amount of time it would take most normal people to understand Xcode and Swift enough to build out mobile apps, FM is pretty painless.  Don't get me started on SQL!

                         

                        Tim, I do agree with your positioning and that is definitely a professional approach.  I often refer to FM as a platform and talk about solutions, not databases, with prospective clients.  It seems to assuage the fear of esoteric technical knowledge and allows me to get right down to the nitty gritty.

                         

                        erolst: 'adieu' was an intended pun and a nod to Voltaire, picking up the pen and all...

                         

                        Again, and as always, I appreciate all of the responses!  It will be cool to meet up with some of you at DevCon!

                        • 9. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                          erolst

                          c0nsilience wrote:

                          erolst: 'adieu' was an intended pun and a nod to Voltaire, picking up the pen and all...

                           

                          Far-fetched as that sounds, I give you the BoD on it … but consider this:

                           

                          "The problem with Internet quotes is that you can't always rely on their accuracy.” – Abraham Lincoln

                          • 10. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                            nicolai

                            Good joke, erolst This quote is obviously by Immanuel Kant.

                            • 11. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                              erolst

                              nicolai wrote:

                               

                              Good joke, erolst This quote is obviously by Immanuel Kant.

                               

                              Yeah, “obviously” … what gave it away? The language? The clear wording?

                               

                              Anyway, may I quote you on that?

                              • 12. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                                c0nsilience

                                What a strange breed.  Apologies in advance for straying off topic...

                                 

                                Forgive the digression, but in my own defense, I actually did make my living as a writer, when I was obviously much younger and naive enough to think it was a good profession.  A 180K daily circulation in the Old Dominion is an honest way to get your chops, which spared me from The Kansas City Star and Hemingway's eventual fate.  The one significant road block I encountered in my writing career is that people just don't like to read and advertorials don't count.

                                 

                                As for Kant, only a masochist could tolerate his Critique of Pure Reason.  I'll take Kierkegaard over Kant any day, despite the religious leanings.  Even though he was a good German, erolst, even Nietzsche makes more sense, fwiw.

                                 

                                Are you ready to get off of this existential merry-go-round?

                                • 13. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                                  nicolai

                                  erolst  - be my guest.  My full name for your quote is Nicolai Kant (not a relative, unfortunately)

                                   

                                  c0nsilience   - sorry if we caused any offence, I am sure this was intended as a harmless joke to lighten up the mood. The joke is on us, anyway. I am not good at writing and English is not my first language. Despite my surname, I don't know a thing about philosophy either.

                                  • 14. Re: Making a living as a FileMaker developer...pros and cons
                                    erolst

                                    nicolai wrote:

                                    be my guest.  My full name …

                                    … is quite illustrious!

                                     

                                    And I'm sure that c0nsilience took those comments in the spirit in which they were offered! (Him being an ex-writer and all-around good guy …)

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