So, you’ve decided to learn FileMaker? That’s certainly a great move for anyone who wants to integrate a faster development method into their workflow, and FileMaker is one of the better platforms available when it comes to rapid deployment of database applications and user interfaces that require a lot of manual input. While it can seem a bit daunting at first, the whole system is actually developed in a very intuitive way that makes perfect sense once you’ve gotten the hang of it.
Getting started is the hard part, and you need to have a well-prepared list of steps to follow during your learning.
Create a simple database
The first thing you should try as a FileMaker developer is obviously to build a small database. Don’t go too far, the important point here is to get a feeling of how databases work in the first place, what tables and fields are, and how it all ties together. There are many fine points to grasp here, so stick around as long as you feel necessary until you’re comfortable moving on. Some ideas for a database that’s simple enough include an address book, a todo list, or an employee record database. As we said above, don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be, and focus on the basic modes of interaction for now. This means that you should avoid extending things to multiple tables if possible.
Add some user interaction
Your next step should be to figure out how users can get around your menus more easily, and to add some extra navigational elements that require some more research for their implementation. Of course, try not to make things too complicated in this area either, and if you feel like you’re moving too fast, take a step back and delete your last round of changes. The good thing about FileMaker in this regard is that it’s very flexible and it’s not hard at all to reverse your recent changes if you feel like the project should have gone in a different direction.
Build a hosted application
Working with FileMaker applications locally is great up to a certain point, but sooner or later you’ll want to look into hosting them on their own dedicated servers. This can bring multiple benefits to the table, one of the most important ones being the ability to share your application with a large number of users without too much difficulty.
On the other hand, a shared FileMaker application requires some careful considerations to be made, and you’ll want to make sure that you’re paying a lot of attention to security. You can kill two birds with one stone here and familiarize yourself with FileMaker hosting in parallel with proper security practices. This is actually preferred in most cases, as you don’t want to get in touch with a hosting partner without understanding the important security implications of hosting your FileMaker apps.
Beyond the basics
Once you’re ready to move on, there are various directions you can pick for your next steps. You can learn about multi-user applications, dig deeper in the security field, or figure out how to make more intuitive interfaces that get the point across with minimal hassle. You’ll find that there is no shortage of learning materials on the Internet, and you should make full use of them as you’re advancing in your studies.
Another important thing to consider is the community around FileMaker – there are lots of people out there who would gladly help you out in your learning and will offer you their knowledge, but it’s up to you to actually reach out to them and ask some questions around. This means that you must also know what you want to ask in the first place, and that’s sometimes a bit trickier than it sounds. If you’re not sure how to formulate your question, this is often a sign that you simply need to learn a bit more than you think, as you’re still too far from your next level of knowledge. As you keep moving forward in your studies, you’ll develop a certain intuition for that, and you should find it much easier to phrase your questions in a way that makes sense – that’s a skill on its own, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t have a good grasp of it at first.