Pause on Error is an annual gathering of FileMaker developers to learn and share experiences. This year felt extra special since the previous St. Louis Pause on Error conference had been cancelled due to COVID, as were most other FileMaker gatherings and events. Even the last 2 Claris Engage events ended up being purely virtual. So this was special because it was the first time 85 people with a common passion were able to get together in person for quite some time.

The event was held in a remote mountain camp Kaplan Mitchell Retreat Center – Camp Ramah Darom near Clayton, Georgia. The setting was beautiful.

The cabins and hotels were comfortable and the camp staff was amazing. The weather was mostly constant rain, but didn’t interfere greatly with the events due to the capable facilities. Primary activities were held in the covered basketball/theater outside and the main dining building. And, as is a mark of all great conferences, the (kosher) food was delicious.

Despite this being a gathering of all technical people, there was a nudge to go analog at the conference. Our first devices were a white board and pen that required no power.

Among other things, Pause on Error allowed us to refuel in many ways: connect with others, generate ideas, learn new things, escape the busy world, relax a bit, live fully, and plan for the future. Overall it was a great way to reset and recharge.

One of the most unexpected but refueling occurrences was the loss of power throughout the camp. Being in the remote mountains, we were already experiencing nearly zero mobile cell phone service (everyone relied on the camp internet wifi… even for phone calls). When the power went out, we suddenly had absolutely no contact with the outside world. While the camp staff did an amazing job helping to make everyone comfortable, the blackout forced us all to live offline for a while. What a peaceful break! We all found life to be calm and quiet for quite some time – disturbance free.

Many of the sessions presented at Pause will be or are now available at local FMPUG or FileMaker Meetups. Here is a list of several of the interactive sessions that went on at Pause on Error, along with some high level summaries and links to the information source:

Keeping the Fun in UX Design – Makah Encarnacao
Makah discussed some ideas on how and when you might include fun interface choices in your FileMaker solution. Our LuminFire crew was able to contribute some fun UI examples of things we have done with a FileMaker solution used for registration check ins. Here’s the sound file example.

JSON and FileMaker – Oliver Reid
Free tools on FMPConnect.com – jsonValidator, jsonReconstructor, jsonNormalFormulator, Smart JSON Editor, JSON Helper, etc.

Abstraction in FileMaker – Mike Ross
Abstraction is everywhere in code. Learning the difference between abstracting for efficiency vs being “clever” can save future developers (including yourself) some major headaches.
DRY – Don’t Repeat Yourself
WET – Write Everything Twice
Some great side conversations from this session included the “sunk cost fallacy” – where old code is viewed as precious, when it should really be trimmed or replaced. Edge case proliferations – don’t get caught up in the “what ifs” and go down rabbit holes. If your code is hard to understand, it is easy to forget how it works.

Tension and Resolution – Don Leven
You (the developer) are not Luke… you are Obi Wan or Yoda. Tell a story where the user is the hero. Become a Jedi vs. join me. Developer “flow” – working in the upper ⅓ of your ability, keeping yourself challenged, but not so difficult that it causes anxiety. Bad tension – Lack of feedback. Give status updates regularly, even if there is nothing to report… stating that there’s nothing to report is better than no news at all. Remember that launch time is exciting, but it means change for end users. Recorded here.

FileMaker and Ransomware – Chris Moyer, Heidi Porter, Wim Decorte
This session puts a proper fear into everyone to know that you should address security in your FileMaker server environment. They provided some positive steps you can take to make your solutions safer from hackers. Some of this was also discussed at the recent Claris Engage security session. The most recent recording is here starting at 1 hour 15 minute in at the last November 2021 FMDISC meeting.

Logging like a Lumberjack – Joe Ranne and John Newhoff of Portage Bay Solutions
The group discussed the issues around audit logging. Why are logging? What are you trying to capture? Various industry compliance issues, like financial, education, health care (HIPAA), etc.
Different options for logging in FileMaker, and the pros and cons. Record level vs layout level. Auto-Enter calculations vs script triggers. Where to store the log: in a text or container field on the record vs a separate table, or a separate database, or even outside of FileMaker. Storing as columnar data vs a JSON object. Various current and past audit logging products, plug-ins, add-ons, etc. UltraLog and PBS Logging add-on

JavaScript Dev Environment – Jeremy Brown
Jeremy described how to create the best workflow for integrating JavaScript libraries in FileMaker. Code your JavaScript in Visual Studio Code and view the results immediately in your FileMaker app. This session was repeated at the FMPUG-MN November 11, 2021.

Bring it to the Browser and Beyond – Michael Layne
Michael talked real world examples using the FileMaker Data API, AWS S3, Visual Studio, Insomnia API, PHP, Vue, etc. Michael will be presenting this info again at the DIGFM meeting on November 11, 2021 and will be posted on the DIGFM YouTube channel following.

Learning from Writing a FileMaker JavaScript Game – Leland Long
Leland took on the task of writing Space Invaders and PacMan in FileMaker using JavaScript. Through his journey he found how JavaScript can do certain things much faster than FileMaker scripting and he was able to use this knowledge in a business application to speed up certain tasks significantly.

Each Pause is different. This was well organized with adequate “white space” to let sessions and discussion happen naturally. Seeing so many incredible people together again with common interests was good for the soul. A special thank you goes out to the organizers of Pause Krissy Ferris and Martha Zink who did a wonderful job of making the event so relaxing and valuable.

Three of our team members from LuminFire attended this Pause, and it was a great time to talk, learn, and increase our team bond together through shared experiences. It was great having several representatives directly from Claris at the event too. Having extended time to talk with them and discuss the future was a great opportunity.

Bonus Photos:

A beautiful waterfall on the property via short hike was an added bonus.

The many reminders at the camp of the symbols of Jewish Faith added a special ambiance to the serenity of the surroundings.

Tim Cimbura – CEO and Software Engineer

Tim is an expert in creating custom business solutions that make businesses more effective, productive, and profitable. He specializes in rapid application development with FileMaker (certified in all versions) for macOS, Windows, iPad/iPhone and web app integration with WordPress. He also knows Apple technology inside and out.