October 15, 2019

FileMaker under the tree

Sent by Jonathan Stark on October 16th, 2019

Have you ever heard of FileMaker? It’s an old-school software development platform ideally suited to building internal applications for workgroups. 

About 15 years ago, I was a FileMaker developer and TBH I loved it. I wrote articles about it in the trade magazine, I spoke at the annual developer conference, I got certified to teach training classes, and I even wrote a book about it for SAMS. 

Back then, a new version of FileMaker would be released about every 12-18 months. For the developers, each new release was greeted with the anticipation of a five year old on Christmas morning. We couldn’t wait to run downstairs, rip off the wrapping paper, and see what Santa brought us this time!

Sometimes there were amazing new developer features that would make our lives easier and more productive, and we rejoiced! Other times, our pet feature request was ignored (yet again!) and we would gather our pitchforks and storm the forums like an angry mob. 

Here’s the thing... 

Virtually all FileMaker developers - then and now - bill for their work by the hour. 

So why would any of us cheer a new version that allowed us to do our jobs more quickly? 

If I can define fields right on a layout instead of porpoise-ing in and out of the define database modal, or if I can log script errors in the local drive instead of painstakingly trying to repoduce edge case production issues, or if I can specify a set of default fields for all tables instead of manually over and over again... then I’m going to make less money!

In other words... 

The better the software gets, the less I make if I’m billing for my time. 

We must’ve been nuts, right? I mean, we should have BOOED when the software made it easier for us to do our jobs. Enhancements that allowed us to do more faster have an instantaneous negative impact on our income. 


If you love getting productivity enhancements and eliminating repetitive tasks and automating tedious activities, you might want to think about ditching hourly. Otherwise you’ll end up automating yourself into bankruptcy.