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    Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...

    ibrahim_bittar

      Hi all

       

      Today I found this news and I have to confess I'm a bit shocked. Just a bit.

       

      Goodbye, FileMaker

       

      I wanted to share this because I believe it's healthy to open a serious discussion about the core business concepts about FileMaker, not the technical ones. I'm not leaving, not now and not in the future (so please disaster prophets don't start with me). I believe in FileMaker and FMI but something tells me that what I believe is not necessarily aligned with what FMI believes.

       

      I don't agree with everything Tim says, my experience with FBA has been wonderful and I have no complaints in the tech side of FileMaker, however, I make my living 100% out of FileMaker so if someone as important as Tim is leaves FM development it's important to me at least to talk about it.

       

      My biggest concern is the non-disclosure of a real roadmap. I'm sure FMI has one, it just bothers me they are not sharing it. We're partners, right?.

       

      I can understand if Apple keeps everything secret because they have a lot of competitors in the consumer hardware business, however, in my opinion FMI plays in another league where it's not clear who they are competing with. I choose to believe there is no competition at all.

       

      So, I have questions, business questions. It would be great if Steve Romig could jump into this discussion.

       

      1.- Who's FMI target?, professional developers?, end users?.

      2.- Where are we going?, SAAS?, something in between?.

      3.- The roadmap, can we see it?.

       

      I sincerely hope we can leave this discussion with more answers than questions. Again, I love FileMaker and I feel loved by FileMaker. It's just I want to see clear in the horizon, so to speak.

       

      Best regards

       

      Ibrahim Bittar

        • 1. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
          DavidZakary

          Surprised me as well. Tim has been hinting at this a little with his move into other platforms. I'm saddened by this as I'm sure others are as well. I'm wondering what happens to all of the products he and his partners have created for the developer community.

           

          My FBA experience has been pretty positive over the years as well. Could it be better? Definitely. But it isn't bad.

           

          The roadmap issue has been discussed a lot over the past while here and in other places. I'm not surprised that FMI doesn't tell us everything about the future. It really isn't in their best interest. Would I like to know? Sure. Would it be beneficial to the community. Maybe. Maybe not. 

           

          How many companies do publish a roadmap for the future? I can think of only a couple - Intel shows the chip roadmap for the next generation, but its probably been set in stone for a long time before its shown. Apple just had their WWDC this week and we saw the next version of the Mac OS and iOS but its not really a roadmap beyond the fall release window. Microsoft, Google, Facebook - all pretty much the same. We get hints, but nothing I'd take to the bank. How many go beyond the next release?

           

          The business world changes pretty quickly in certain cases. In other cases moves are glacial. How much does any company want to put out there in case the world does change? For publicly traded companies it could be suicidal if announcements could not be lived up to.

           

          We have to go on the assumption that the braintrust at FMI knows what they are doing and have our interests covered. The best we can do is attend DevCon and see what they put up on the screen.

          • 2. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
            Markus Schneider

            ouch - Autsch!

            )-:

             

            The latest fba meeting here was -nicely spoken- somewhat disapointing - and the missing roadmap makes it -somewhat- difficult to explain why a customer should pay the maintenance (don't get me wrong - I personally pay the maintenance for my own site-licence and I'm asking customers to to so as well)

             

            FIleMaker -and other companies- have not an easy living with the 'every-12-months-a-new-OS' - this makes it even harder (not just fir a roadmap..)

            • 3. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
              Charlie_Cole

              Wow I'm surprised at this move.  Would be curious as to his reasons why he is moving.  I myself make most of my money from FileMaker however in almost every single case I use FileMaker in conjunction with other platforms such as Oracle, SQL and others, mainly I use FileMaker for the UI and other platforms for a more robust back end.

               

              I'm with Ibrahim a road map would really help in most cases when dealing with clients.  The questions I'm ask most is will this software be update regularly and will it be here tomorrow or next week or at some point in the future will it be killed out of the blue and it is hard to answer those type of questions.

              • 4. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...

                I can understand the personal desire to want to work with a more advanced application that has features you want to use. For instance, a native FileMaker app well designed will have a much better user experience than GO. I also am frustrated by FileMaker's disregard for me when it doesn't fix the issues with dialogs everyone complains about and the messy way layouts continue to display under some circumstances and the lack of tools that others have had for decades.

                 

                I cannot understand the reasoning in abandoning profitable businesses like the hosting service, assuming its profitable. Such as business does not demand Tim Detrich do everything as can be seen by the fact that other hosting services provide similar services. Why doesn't he find a qualified manager, CEO, etc. to run the business and continue to service loyal customers rather than dumping them off like that? Of course, if the business isn't profitable, why bother? And maybe he knows something is coming down the road that will disrupt the hosting business and so lets get out now before we lose our shirts.

                • 5. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...

                  Regarding the roadmap, most poster look at the problem with competitors discovering what you will be doing.

                   

                  No one that I can recall has mentioned the fact that we might decide to move on to another platform if we know for certain that FileMaker will not be fixing things like dialogs that frustrate me, not add field types that it needs, improve the display of reports as it did recently to show hierarchical lists without needing preview but to add the ability to shrink or expand portals or display areas in the list as needed within limits of course. In this regards, FileMaker providing a roadmap might shoot itself in the foot.

                   

                  Reasons for no roadmap:

                       Secrecy, protect the jewels

                       Prevent competitors from advertising we will add this but FileMaker isn't going to

                       Prevent users from switching since they know they won't get what they want

                       Avoid new buyers not buying since they see they won't get what they want

                       ...maybe most important in todays legal environment, avoid a lawsuit if they don't deliver the roadmap. We create 10s of thousands of new hungry lawyers every years without deleting the same number.

                       ...maybe no one really has a plan and there's 50 research projects and if one works, it gets implemented

                  • 6. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                    electon

                    It is a loss to the community.

                    However, I think that after some time spent with Xojo, where you get full access to the OS, Tim didn't see the point in continuing with Filemaker. All the points he makes about filemaker, I'm sure well true, tipped the balance.

                    It's also difficult to maintain the knowledge and skills at a high level with limited resources over many platforms. Lone developers probably understand this.

                    It may even be that filemaker didn't fit his business model and customer base anymore.

                    I agree with his remarks about the pricing models, way exaggerated. And we don't know anymore which way it's all heading.

                    Small setups are becoming not feasible anymore. It's all about value for money, and I guess people will vote with their wallets.

                     

                    You don't switch the platform over a weekend, and gaining deeper knowledge of another programming language takes a huge effort.

                    Well, I'm sure I'm just stating the obvious.

                     

                    By the way, Swift went Open Source. I'm sure Tim is happy about that.

                    A sincere Good Luck to him.

                    • 7. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                      jormond

                      I'm sad to see it too. Not surprised, but sad. I've watch him over the last year moving toward it. There was definitely a period where he was undecided. But based on things I've heard from him off-channel, I expected it to come as soon as he had an exit strategy.

                       

                      Have always loved his contributions to the FM community. And definitely hope the FM tools are allowed to live on.

                       

                      Wish you the best Tim!! Keep in touch.

                       

                      For me personally, I think FM will always be in my toolbelt.

                      • 8. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                        siplus

                        One could ask "why need a roadmap now, you filemakered 3 decades without having one".

                         

                        Well, it boils down to the nervousness of our clients.

                         

                        Tim Cook nailed it during the WWDC presentation (if you TLDR, skip to minute 77 in the presentation), with

                         

                        - 100 Billion App downloads

                        - the average person has 119 apps

                        - 850 apps downloaded every second

                        - 1'500'000 apps available on the Apple store.

                         

                        While we, and our FM-based solutions, are not competing with each and every app, we do compete with their pricing, UX, deployment time etc.

                         

                        Clients expect faster better cheaper more, while in 2015 we keep moving fields in import records by hand.

                         

                        I can still make it without a roadmap but I do need more gas stations along the road...

                        • 9. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                          jormond

                          I agree with most of what you said. But the only people competing one-off apps are, well, one-off apps.

                           

                          From my perspective, as a developer and worker bee, those one-off apps are a recipe for disaster in a business. It fragments the workflow, fragments the business model, fragments the mind. Not that they don't have their place. But more often than not, they have caused longer term problems. That are not easily fixed because everyone is so dependent on the 37 apps they use every day.

                          siplus wrote:

                          While we, and our FM-based solutions, are not competing with each and every app, we do compete with their pricing, UX, deployment time etc.

                          • 10. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                            coulombre
                            There are always things we as developers wish FileMaker could do. I have my own pet peeve list.

                             


                            However, IMHO FileMaker has never been more innovative. I believe this is the most progressive product management and engineering team in FileMaker's history. Web Direct is amazing. New UI enhancements make a world of difference.  The ability to create styles to control the UI across large systems saves so much time. I love the new Scripting environment, finding it makes our developers so much more productive. I could go on and on.  Fundamentally I believe FileMaker provides developers with the greatest amount of power with the least amount of complexity of any development environment I've used or investigated.  That's why we use it... it has a great ROI.


                            FileMaker Go allows us to build "apps" in a fraction of the time as compared to Swift. Yes, I wish it was on Android, and I would love to have more mobile style UI "widgets" available. But I'm constantly amazed at the systems our team is able to build on behalf of our customers.


                            Finally, FileMaker development and training has housed and fed my family for most of my 30 years in business. We've had many employees over the years who supported their families through our FileMaker efforts and continue to do so.  The Support Group has never been busier. And I've never been more optimistic about the future of Filemaker.


                            I do fundamentally disagree with Tim Dietrich's analysis, but I do wish him the best. Change is good. Learning is good. And I do agree that the mobile app dev space is exploding.


                            Best,


                            Rich Coulombre



                            • 11. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                              smith7180

                              As a relatively new developer (and one for whom Filemaker will always be an occasional side project), I did not go into that post expecting any of the specifics of his reasoning to apply to me.  I just assumed most reasons would be way above my head/paygrade.  But every specific has been such a core "wtf??" in my experiences that his message resonated with me in a really alarming way:

                               

                              • "UI for importing records"
                              • "the insanely poor support for sending email"
                              • "ExecuteSQL function, which still only supports SELECT statements"
                              • Roadmap (the fm14 upgrade caught me unawares at the moment I was rolling out a product)
                              • Pricing
                              • The weird/unsatisfactory experience we've had in trying to navigate the whole FMP Reseller thing.
                              • Why is he shutting down his hosting service?  Does he know something we don't?

                               

                              PS. I wonder what will become of FMEasySync?

                              • 12. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                                Extensitech

                                My opinions, in the interest of a healthy and serious discussion (fwiw);

                                 

                                I'm still a huge fan of the FM family of products. (I hope recent posts I've made about challenges in 14, or desired features, don't lead anyone to think otherwise. Friends provide constructive criticism. )

                                 

                                Yes, we have a long history of workarounds/hacks, but I definitely see progress towards less and less odd gymnastics to do what our clients need. And where we still have some "hacky" methods, it's good to at least be able to make things work even if FM obviously didn't have them in mind at the outset. I see that as flexibility, not limitation. IMHO, FM makes the easy things easy, and the hard things possible. It's been my experience that we can still produce solutions faster and more flexibly than others can on other platforms. It's not unusual for a two or three month project of ours to accomplish what previous developers has tried, and failed, to do in another environment over the course of years.

                                 

                                On the business side, I'd sure like a better relationship with the company itself. The  "pillars" for FBA, presented last DevCon, were a hopeful sign, but I still think there's too much emphasis on making developers into salespeople. I'd love to see FM do more to identify and cultivate great developers, rather than counting how many licenses we well.

                                 

                                Along the same lines, the emphasis on selling "one-off" copies of FM sometimes undermines support of developers. It's hard, I suppose, to tout the simplicity of using FM (which is a real thing) while also promoting developers who can do complex things that a new user isn't likely to be ready for (which is also a real thing). On the other hand, advertising that FM "does inventory" makes it pretty hard to explain to a potential client that a serious inventory solution involves more than just installing FM.

                                 

                                We do everything we can to promote the product, both because we believe it's a great product and because that product is our bread and butter. In return, the primary promotion we get is a listing on the consultants page. That's great, and gets us business, but if that wasn't  there, FindFileMakerDevelopers would probably get more traffic, and their search criteria make more sense, anyway. FM is, I believe, in a position to offer much more to the developer community, and seems to struggle with how to go about that and how to fit it into their business model.

                                 

                                Maybe the roadmap would be too revealing; not knowing for sure what it is, I couldn't say. How about telling us what end users are looking for, though? For example, the recent emphasis on iOS probably isn't wrong, but iOS is a form factor, not a set of functionality. How about some examples of what end users are saying they want to do with iOS, so we can focus our efforts on meeting those needs? How about some more guidance on successful business practices and project management techniques, for example, rather than just how to use FM (which we're all pretty good at already)? We've been pretty successful on our own, but FM has access to a wealth of information from users and from successful developers and projects. How about sharing some of that to make the development community more effective and successful?

                                 

                                Developers are probably never going to directly sell as many copies of FM as get sold directly to end users. A strong developer community and successful FM solutions strengthen the brand, though, giving everyone a better impression of FM as a platform and making it a more likely candidate for individuals, businesses, and consultants' projects.

                                 

                                (As a completely off-the-wall aside, since I managed the brand, how about ditching "filemaker" as a name? It sounds simplistic and juvenille... "It makes files!"... and doesn't help our first impression.)

                                 

                                Just my two cents.

                                 

                                Chris Cain

                                Extensitech

                                • 13. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                                  jormond

                                  I agree the UI for importing records is horrible. But I know how it works, and I almost never let users touch it. I prefer to pull everything thing into a generic table, clean it up, and then push it out to the desired table/fields.

                                   

                                  Poor support for sending email? I get the gist of what Tim was saying. I don't wholly disagree. But I also don't see the approach that makes emailing from a database that difficult. And I don't want to encourage spammers. I get enough garbage in my email now.

                                   

                                  ExecuteSQL is what it is. I have no doubt someday it will expand to allow us more functionality. But, to be brutally honest, it's such a DANGEROUS feature. You can hose the entire data set in the file ( and others ), because you mistyped and executed it. I really think that is the driving force behind the limitation.

                                   

                                  Roadmap: You have to test, test, test, and test before you roll something into a new backend any way. Develop what you have now. The feature set of FM 14 isn't likely to change your product too dramatically. It may enhance it as you move forward. But how much notice do you expect? What happens if you expect a feature that doesn't make it into the product. Same thing that happens if it does: you wait for it, test it, get creative with it, test some more, roll it into your product, test it again, then deploy it or scrap it. Roadmaps to me serve no purpose what-so-ever. Other than to satisfy my developer curiosity.

                                   

                                  Pricing: FM is still so much cheaper than a lot of other stuff. And allows SIGNIFICANT reduction in dev time. Do I "agree" with their pricing? Not really. But I've not found it to be a deterrent.

                                   

                                  Are you a reseller? To me is sounds like more stress than it's worth. And not profitable enough to make it worth the hassle. But I'm not a reseller at the moment, so it's hard for me to give any real weight to why I feel the way I do.

                                   

                                  He is shutting his FM hosting down because he isn't "doing FileMaker". That seems clear to me.

                                   

                                  FMEasySync? Yup, I have also wondered. I hope all of his tools will be allowed to live on.

                                  smith7180 wrote:

                                   

                                  As a relatively new developer (and one for whom Filemaker will always be an occasional side project), I did not go into that post expecting any of the specifics of his reasoning to apply to me.  I just assumed most reasons would be way above my head/paygrade.  But every specific has been such a core "wtf??" in my experiences that his message resonated with me in a really alarming way:

                                   

                                  • "UI for importing records"
                                  • "the insanely poor support for sending email"
                                  • "ExecuteSQL function, which still only supports SELECT statements"
                                  • Roadmap (the fm14 upgrade caught me unawares at the moment I was rolling out a product)
                                  • Pricing
                                  • The weird/unsatisfactory experience we've had in trying to navigate the whole FMP Reseller thing.
                                  • Why is he shutting down his hosting service?  Does he know something we don't?

                                   

                                  PS. I wonder what will become of FMEasySync?

                                  • 14. Re: Tim Dietrich is leaving FileMaker development :(. Time to think...
                                    smith7180

                                    Thank you, those are all great points.

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