I can't think of a better escape than a trip San Diego in middle of the New Zealand winter, which is exactly what Daniel and I did a couple of weeks ago as we headed off to the annual FileMaker Developer Conference (DevCon) - an annual geek fest in a nice warm place.
Actually Daniel went over a couple of weeks earlier and did a lap around Colorado on his bike first; to help me acclimatise I hired a convertible and drove down to San Diego it didn't take long to adjust.
Of course DevCon is all business and in the past we've always shown off our totally awesome Reactor plugin (interactive calendars and charts) and sold that to the other developers to cover our costs. This year was different, for the first time we didn't exhibit: what a stress relief that is - we could focus on building relationships and going to sessions, "networking" is extremely important of course, even if that means you miss the first session or two the next day, eh? We also managed to take in a ball game, a Spanish nightclub, and some serious outlet store shopping.
There was the usual ton of good technical stuff, but we also picked up a few other interesting nuggets, like:
Wherever we went during the conference people would automatically introduce themselves as soon as they saw Daniel's name tag. Could this be anything to do with his industry leading blog FileMakerWeetbicks.com which has thousands of readers every month? Just more world leading stuff from our crew.
FileMaker themselves had a big contingent at the conference, from top brass to engineers to sales people, so it was great to talk to them and get a feeling for how business is going and where it's going. They've done very well through the recent economic challenges, remaining profitable and continuing to grow. It's also quite clear that they understand what businesses want and where the technology needs to go - it's still the best platform for building business solutions that can evolve quickly.
FileMaker have really embraced the iPad and iPhone with "FileMaker Go" and that was a major topic of the conference, as was how to make it perform well when you host it in the "cloud" as they say, i.e. on the internet. Big highlights from the sessions included: some very clever techniques for making huge performance gains; user interface designs and techniques for iPad and iPhone; and a lot of more advanced techniques like the use of SQL in FileMaker than we've ever seen before.
All-in-all a totally enjoyable experience, full-on, but low on stress and I can highly recommend San Diego as a very agreeable place to be in the NZ winter. Next year it'll be in Miami: any takers to join us?
* In case you're wondering what QR codes are, they're those square black and white patterns you see on some things - you can "scan" them with an iPhone or similar, and the information held within could be anything from a web link to an entire vCard containing your contact details. Of course, you also generate these from within FileMaker and encode whatever you like. In the US we saw them everywhere including on the front of shops in the mall: so you can just point your phone at the shop and Twitter or Facebook a link right there.