FileMaker for Startups and Entrepreneurs 17
- 6.5 hours on-demand video
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- Access on mobile and TV
- Certificate of Completion
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- Learning the deciding factors for using FIleMaker for a vertical market app
- Learning about creating Wire Frames
- Learning About Budgeting
- Learning to Budget Bug Fixing During Development
- Learn the Deployment Options for FileMaker Apps
- Learn about Marketing Considerations and SEO Weasels
- Learn to evaluate your over all plan and needed budget
- Learn about Development Methodologies
- Learn how to evaluate and work with a Consultant; if desired
- Learn if FileMaker is right for you
- Student needs NO prerequisites, but should have an interest in building a business or product.
This video course discusses the use of the FileMaker Platform, to create a resell-able vertical app or for building internal support systems for your business. The course was created by the award winning team at RC Consulting and 28 year veteran, Richard Carlton.
Learn about decision making needed to determine if FileMaker is right for you and your business / Startup. Before launching into a project, you need to understand:
Planning and Documenting your ideas.
Understanding how FileMaker can be deployed to customers and users.
Understanding budgeting for development, and sustained marketing.
Bug Fixing and budgeting
Understanding the value of doing the work yourself or getting some outside assistance
How to Hire and communicate with a consultant.
Different methods for structuring a contract... fixed cost quotes, etc.
And We'll build... in less than one hour... a shared mobile solution...that works great on Desktop computers and iPhone, iPads and Android devices.
For maximum awesomeness... this course will reference a number of third party products, a couple of books, etc. I make NO money in these references. During this course, we will also reference the use of FM Starting Point to use as a free software... to anchor the development of your internal systems. You will be required to input your personal information to get this free software.
- This course is for: People who want to start a business, and want to pick the right software platform for their app
- This course is for: Entrepreneurs who are creating a startup
- This course is NOT for learning how to build FileMaker databases. We already have a separate course for that.
Introduction to the FileMaker for Startups and Entrepreneurs Video Training Series
Are you considering building an app for your specific field of work?
We will Discuss the following:
A vertical market vs. a horizontal market?
Benefits to you for creating your own app:
- Challenge yourself mentally
- Make a profit
Inexpensive tools available to you to develop yourself
**No need to rely on others for development
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Berber, could save your startup or small business.
3 Personas Make up a Small Business
#1 is the "Entrepreneur": Sees what could be in the future.
#2 is the "Technician": Technically proficient, but they are so busy, that they don't have time to think about fluffy stuff...like the future.
#3 is the "Manager": This is the process, procedure documenter and organizer.
Technicians cannot transfer to the job of manager well...and this can cause a business to fail.
New Hires doing receive documented training. Their training is handled verbally... via tribal knowledge.
Tribal knowledge results in poor dispersal of knowledge and procedures.
The business needs a documented, repeatable, and reliable process to follow.
This course picks up where the book leave off....as we have the magic tool for creating an backend operational system.
This tool, called FileMaker...can also be used to build vertical market applications.
FM Starting Point is a great FREE tool to use with FileMaker... to create a documented operations management system.
"FileMaker" is a software platform which is composed of numerous specific products.
"FileMaker Inc" is the company that makes the product.
FileMaker has been around for 30 years... and the terminology has evolved.
Interchangeable terms: "Solution" "App" "Template" "Solution" "Database" are interchangeable terms in the FileMaker platform.
This course is for building a vertical market app or for building internal systems for your organization.
FileMaker Platform has been around for 30 year.
FileMaker's Elevator Pitch... 30 to 120 second.
You will need a elevator pitch for your vertical market app.
Use Compelling factor to get people's interest so they come back to you later.
This is FileMaker's Zero to Sixty Demo... and it's great for blowing a lot of people's minds.
You can use this to build a mobile app... but it works great on Desktop too.
FileMaker is 30 years old.
20 Millions copies have been installed in 15 languages.
1.5 Millions copies have been installed on iOS devices.
Many businesses have application islands... where data is not shared.
Managers spend up to 4 weeks per year tracking down missing data and documents.
This can be because of inefficient or Ad-hoc processes. 67% of missing data is due to staff blunders... which is worse than viruses.
FileMaker is a balance between shrink wrap apps... and traditional programming.
Lets build FileMaker mobile app...and share it worldwide.
Drag and dropping a Excel doc into FileMaker to create a NEW file.
FileMaker Server is important for hosting important customer solutions.
Sorting in FileMaker... does not scramble the data... like what will happen in Excel.
Layouts are "screens" created in FileMaker to display data in different ways.
Multiple clients can give changes to the same layout in REAL TIME.
Demo is using "peer to peer sharing."
FileMaker Go support all sorts of cool mobile iOS features, like photo capture, video capture, barcode scanning, and signature capture.
Data changes on one client... leads to instant updates on other clients.
Record Locking prevents 2 users from changing the same record... at the same time.
FileMaker has built in Templates for for iPhone and iPad screens, which speeds development.
iPad screen can be accessed by different clients...and are designed and setup using FileMaker Pro on Mac or Windows.
FileMaker supports different types of fields to handle the different kinds of data you might want input into it. Container fields are for images, movies or any other document.
Users who use the database do not need to know how to build or customize the solution.
Contracts and signatures can be added.
Pop up Calendars on iOS are different than desktop.
Interface elements behave different... on different platforms.
The customer can import Excel files into EXISTING FileMaker files. They can import into existing tables... or have FileMaker create a new table.
Relationships can be created between contacts and work orders.
Things to consider when you "have a great idea!"
What are the Market Conditions?
What kind of competitors will you have?
Do you have a "Natural In" into the vertical market?
Access to mailing lists/Access to Relevant Conferences/Seen as a "Thought Leader" in that Area
A great App requires good marketing
If you build it... will they come?
Do you have the funding for a runway?
3 Main Components of FileMaker.
Database Back-end - Storage of information (like excel).
Graphical User Interface (GUI) - makes the storage of the information "pretty."
Business Logic - How the database is run (workflow).
Example: FileMaker = The Home Depot
- You can find all the tools you need to build an app within FileMaker.
Ecosystem - There is a massive ecosystem, including Plugins, and Developers who can assist in giving your FileMaker App more capabilities like processing Credit Cards.
Sketch the deisgn of your application
Balsamiq Mockups - great tool for building wireframes on computer instead of physically sketching it
Things to consider
- How will the user navigate the application?
- How will the user login to the application?
The point of sketching is so you can unkink issues on paper so you don't have to build the app twice when you find out something does not work.
FM Starting Point is a FREE FileMaker Starter Solution. www.fmstartingpoint.com
Not specific to any vertical market.
Contains prebuilt layouts for desktop, iPad, iPhone, Desktop Web Browser, and Web Browser access on Android Phones.
FileMaker also publishes its own limited starter solutions. They are included with EACH install of FM Pro.
These solutions are "technology demonstrator." There is some more complex capabilities... with some more complex setup and programming in FMI's starter solutions.
FM Starting Point is designed to be understood by less experienced users and developers.
FMI Starter solutions generally have a single focus and are NOT relationally connected... like FM Starting Point.
User Interface vs. User experience.
User Interface - does the App look pretty? Is it well-designed?
User Experience - Was the app easy to use? Did it meet their expectations/needs?
80/20 rule - 80% of users will only use 20% of the application.
Beta testing - great way to get feedback on UI and UX.
Using FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Go
The differences between device requirements of creation and consumption, such as creating and animated video and watching it.
An overview of iphones and ipads and how these devices favor consumption.
An overview of macs and how these devices favor creation.
Considering the differences between creation and consumption to decide if your FileMaker solution will be primarily used in FileMaker Go or FileMaker Pro.
An in-depth view on the 3 clients of consumption (FileMaker Pro Advanced, FileMaker Go, and FileMaker Web Direct).
A brief history about each client and how they came to be created.
A detailed description of each client and how they are utilized for different purposes.
Finding out what kind of product you have and determining if you need to save it using a server.
Taking an in-depth look at how FileMaker Server works compared to FileMaker Cloud.
Looking at both options and seeing which server provides the best perks for your own database.
Determining if your database will support all the end users or if you need to have your database on multiple servers to split the work load.
If the database is being sold individually, then making them separately hosted and unique to the customer is the best way to go.
Why using multiple servers can help your database.
The Data Migration Tool and how it solved a 30 year old issue.
Addressing the issue of database updates in previous versions of FileMaker and how FileMaker fixed it.
Third Party companies create plug-ins that use the Data Migration Tool and expand on it even more.
Describes how this tool can save you time and money, while giving you more flexibility with the database you want to update.
Synchronization and why its important to clients with low to no signal.
Find out why synchronization isn’t something FileMaker takes care of and where to get it.
How Absolute Synchronization can harm your database and other options that avoid Absolute Synchronization.
There are several Third Party Vendors that make Synchronization possible and help deconflict the various data coming in.
Let's talk about the 4th client of FileMaker:
Be able to write your own front end that a user will see but still be connected to a backend database.
Find out why this fourth client can offer more customization compared to WebDirect, but at the same time the learning curve is much higher.
Look into the cost comparison from using your own public facing website versus one of the original 3 FileMaker clients.
FileMaker Apps for different sizes of customers:
Making a scalable database in the FileMaker platform means that will operate "well" for larger group of people.
Making the database scalable should be something you strive towards... early in the development process.
100's of simultaneous users on a single file on a single FileMaker Server requires crafting the database to be scalable.
Watch our Video Course to learn details of building solutions for scalability.
Best performance config: Robust FileMaker Server
Takes some skills and practice to get accurate estimates.
You need documentation BEFORE you can create an itemized check list. The check list of items is what you use to get the detailed quote.
Wire frames are needed as well as a documented deliverables list.
Professional, seasoned developers do not want to volunteer their time to document your software project.
You need to pay for developers time if you want them to do the initial documentation. You can do the documentation yourself, but someone has to do it if you want a good accurate quote.
Development methodology is either "Waterfall" or "Spiral."
Developers cannot do detailed bug testing themselves. They begin to see what they want to see.
Some projects do not need a "tight" fixed cost quote.
Fixed Cost Quote cannot be provided based upon hand waving.
Development methodology is either "Waterfall" or "Spiral."
Some customers do not want to provide tight set of deliverables in advance. There are actually good reasons to do this... but finance/budget people hate it.
Waterfall development doesn't allow for easy design and feature changing as the project progresses. Waterfall development means tightly spec'd and budgeted project... largely without room to change or fix issues which are discovered later. Changes to Waterfall projects result in "Change Orders."
Waterfall is not flexible. Not ideal to organically build and test the best product possible.
Spiral development does not allow a true fixed budget to be known at the beginning.
Constant feedback back and forth between the developers and end customer... is called an Agile Development Methodology.
With Agile, the developers will send "builds" of your project to you periodically... maybe every 3 days or weekly.
Customers can provide timely feedback that allows the developers to change course and make the app "better" in the middle of the project.
Every product manager and customer PREFERS a spiral/agile development methodology until they run out of money!
Spiral/Agile tends to make a much better product and more expensive as opposed to Waterfall.
Negative of Spiral, less budget control. Spiral gives you better product quality control and awesomeness.
Waterfall is great for budget, but less quality in the app.
Mixing methods might be the best. Get an approximate potential cost...and then build the solution with Spiral and Agile development methodologies.
Quoting sections of work or modules of work keeps things small and manageable which is awesome for spiral and agile.
Does the App actually work?
Bug Testing is fundamentally part of the software development process.
Some bug reports might not be bugs... but more of a UX problem.
You should expect to spend the same amount of time it took to build the app on chasing down and fixing bugs.
Have testers ready to test bugs prior to completing the app.
You cannot just take a app you use internally... and just magically sell it to other companies.
An app that is "good enough" for your internal use is most likely not good enough for commercial use.
People will use tribal knowledge... to training various workers... how to work around a solution that is "good enough" ... to get the job done.
Getting an app ready to be sold commercially may take up to 3 times the amount of time it took to build the initial app.
With commercial sales there is no tribal knowledge transfer between the internal users of the solution, and the people who bought the App.
Things you'll need to budget for
- Planning the app
- Building the app
- Bug Testing
- Maintenance of the app (10% of development time)
- Marketing the app
- Internal database (CRM) for managing your customers
- Your website
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Tips for Producing Videos
Producing videos takes a lot of time and money.
Good video content will include:
- "talking head"
- Screen capture
Post production takes more time than that actual shooting of the video.
Always have an outline of your major talking points.
You must be an expert on the content if you are going to make a video on it.
This video course has an "industrial or corporate" level of quality... and not TV broadcast quality.
We produce at 720P... 1280 x 720. 1080 is not a necessity yet.
Our video production team uses Apple Macs.
We use Camtasia for video editing. It works cross platform and has good support.
I don't use Camtasia for recording, but you could, its good. I use iShowU HD for Mac.
Recording mobile device screens wirelessly is painful... and the quality is lower.
On Mac, I use Quick time in 10.10.5 to capture iOS devices... via a USB cord.
Use Mobius on Mac to record Android devices with USB cable.
We have used final cut for masking and extra special effects.
I use a Planetronics Gamecom 780 headset.
The microphone is nice... but has limited flexibility.
Acoustic tiles minimize sound reflection.
Acoustic Tiles do NOT provide sound proofing from other rooms.
Sound is cleaned up with Adobe Audition. We use this to minimize pops, etc, and to ALSO normalize the volume between the videos.
Too much sound pop filtering will cause weird audio volume changes like a sound wave.
Diffuse lighting and backlights for the backgrounds to provide even lighting.
How to sell your app - work out your product delivery mechanism.
Annual renewals make revenue predictable.
Sell individual copies of your app to each customer. Not a single copy shared between 2 different businesses.
If you find a bug, then you might have to fix the bug manually in each customer's copy of the app.
Perpetual License, means you buy or sell it ONCE.
Quoting your product pricing, consider providing a "monthly cost" to allow for easy comparison between other competing products.
Always get opinions from multiple experts.
Pay for people's time as you interview them.
Interview several different candidates... with certifications. Lack of certification indicates developers who do not take their job seriously.
Don't waste your time with developers who are not using the latest version of FileMaker.
Look for people with a good rounded set of experience.
7-8 years make a senior staff.
Work with a developers.... where you actually talk to the developer doing the coding.
Take a developer for a "test drive"... have them build out a module or a small section of your project.
Mutual respect is needed.
The relationship needs to be a win/win for both parties. Trying to "nickel and dime:" the best deal possible... may be off-putting to the developer if your primary focus is development cost.
Developer must communicate well.
Does the developer send frequent and timely updates via email or by phone?
Interview with Jeff Hough, lots of out sourcing experience... overseas to India
Why you might want to outsource:
- You currently don't have the capacity to build a project.
- You currently don't have the knowledge or skillset to build the app.
Jeff works with 50 or 60 outsourced staff... not all of which are building in FileMaker.
Make sure to quiz the outsourced team as to Exactly what kind of App they are building in terms of the "Platform Used."
External recourses in India typically need a VERY HIGH degree of documentation, wireframes - with exact details. Some senior programers in the US do not require this.
When talking with the remote staff, frequently they won't understand what you asking... when trying to have a collaborative conversation. NOT a language barrier.
Cultural differences will cause junior staff or "Freshers" to not want to quiz "Senior" staff if they do not understand something.
You can hear it in their voices and statements when they do not understand. This is not unique to out sourced developers. But it seemed that out sourced developers need to be tightly managed.
Cass system can create a hostile work environment.
Plan on having a daily management meeting between yourself and remote out-sourced staff.
"Freshers" are someone who is just out of college. College degrees are not strictly equivalent to US level colleges.
Freshers have a hard time directly engaging with seniors when they are confused and need guidance.
Watch for interactions in meetings that tell you the remote developer "doesn't get it."
Press the remote developers to make sure they "get it."
When interviewing remote staff make sure the engineers doing the work have the actual skill and that your project doesn't get handed off to a more junior staff.
Out sourcing pt. 2
Limited US capacity really leads to outsourcing to India.
Our Projects are running behind.
Consulting Firms in India might charge $20/hr, the individual developer doesn't make $20/hr.
Does the low hourly rate make up for the issues. The decision depends upon how much you want to manage.
- If your a daily hands on person, then out sourcing to India will occur.
- If your a hi-strung person who get excited easily, then this might not be for you.
Note from RC: Jeff is a very mellow, even keel type guy. He is not easily excited.
2 Different Vertical market Apps... one for animals (Vets)... and one for humans (Doctors)
The staff from InfoMatrix have previously used Oracle, and C++, "Big Iron", etc. They have made apps for many thousands of people at the same time. They have hundreds of developers because of the size and complexity of Oracle and C++.
InfoMatrix has been using FileMaker since Version 5.5. Their first serious vertical App was written in FileMaker 7.
They have huge productivity gains (productivity, development, testing, reliability, etc.) in using FileMaker over using Oracle and C++.
New versions of FileMaker continue to expands the scale for which it can be deployed. More and More simultaneous users.
Early iPads sucked... but the iPad Air 2... is 80x faster. iPad Air 2 is great.
Printopia... which turns a Mac into AirPrint Server is fantastic.
Feature creep with our vertical market apps is problematic.
FileMaker doesn't provide help to developers. FMI is not equipped to help. InfoMatrix monitors 5 different online forums where other developers can talk about these issues.
Same code base between desktop and iPad App.
FileMaker Go cannot use Plugins.
Clairvoyance ...i.e. Type-a-head ...i.e. Auto-Complete... doesn't work in Go.
InfoMatrix loves Video training produced by www.learningfilemaker.com
Where did the ideas for their vertical App come from: Well they met someone and ended up jumping into the veterinary business.
Have customers lined up before you go crazy with developing an app. Just hoping for customers doesn't work.
Take long-term view of the plan. Don't discount. Don't devalue your own work. It hard to back out of the Freemium model.
InfoMatrix's apps have mandatory annual support that the customers pay for both our products and also the FileMaker license. If not, the customers are voided and terminated.
This is so customers cannot complain that their software doesn't work when they're using 7 year old software that doesn't work. If the customer had up-to-date software, their software would work great!
Vertical Market companies need to set the expectation that annual support is required UP FRONT.
VetFM's main competitor - an industry leader was getting beat up online because people were using OLD versions of the software and not upgrading.
InfoMatrix requires customer stay up to date or they are tossed.
Annual subscription - provides ongoing support and maintenance funding to run the company.
InfoMatrix sells the FileMaker licenses by buying FileMaker software at a volume discount through FileMaker's "Solution Bundle Agreement" (SBA) Program.
Competitors may use Free Open source tools. Their cost of getting that technology is low or zero. We have huge productivity gains because of using FileMaker; so we're money ahead. SBA program allows us to get copies of FileMaker Pro HIGHLY discounted, but we have to buy in blocks of 50 copies at a time.
Development is done to a Database Server in the cloud.
Customers are deployed to a server in the Cloud.
InfoMatrix developers are Mac people, but they support customers who are on PC's IF they are switching to Mac within 2 years. (Note from RC... this is an interesting plan.).
InfoMatrix is Mac only, because the Macs are 1/2 the cost to support, easy of use, and little to no viruses, etc.
Customers love their Macs.
They only run their solutions in a SHARED SOLUTION, hosted on a FileMaker Server. So each customer gets their own copy of our software/App and it is shared with their employees.
VetFM file is a single file, not multiple files.
The separation model is not used. Separation Model was used in Oracle and C++, etc. Yuk.
Most VetFM customers who use Macs do NOT have IT staff.
We do not use Remote Containers. (Editors Note, I have concerns about this. - RC).
SSD drives are required since it radically helps solutions run MUCH faster especially the FileMaker Server.
Recovering a crashed database from an SSD can be 20x faster.
Some of the main 3rd Party plugins that InfoMatrix uses: Inspecor by Beezwax, 2empower, Troi File
They use to use a lot more plugins, but we tried to get this list as small as possible and only list the main ones.
They also use FileMaker Runtime to build installers. Why learn another installer language? (Editors note, I am not clear on how they do this. -RC )
FileMaker Runtime is a copy of Pro that runs a single LOCAL solution that is not shared. Once you create a runtime you can give it away for free, forever.
FileMaker Runtime is not a revenue generator for FileMaker Inc. FileMaker is talking about killing this feature since it costs money to maintain, but FMI doesn't make money.
Using Runtime for Pro is a bad idea because FileMaker is thinking about killing this feature. If you build a business plan on FileMaker's runtime your asking for trouble.
You must keep reinvesting in your product and continually improving.
Is FileMaker right for you???
FileMaker provides a front end and a "tightly coupled" database engine.
LiveCode (RCC has used this). No database engine, but it allows for apps to be put up in the Apple and Google App stores. This usually takes much longer to build in than FileMaker.
Servoy - a tool with a loosely coupled database engine. Some people report 10x development time over FileMaker.
Xojo, is essentially "Real Basic," but it is not tightly connected to database engine.
Omni - 4D - They don't stay up to date. They lag behind operating system release. You have to use old operating systems to run the software which means buying old computers on eBay.
Swift - Hardcore programming language, that takes way more time to develop a vertical market app.
Training the customer is important. InfoMatrix doesn't have the time to do customer training; so there is video training embedded in the App.
Videos stream down from the internet.
They like to use Pet Pictures because our customer wants photos and maps too.
Make good use of Icons for buttons.
Check Box functions will input data into a text field in the order the check boxes are clicked.
Each record is tracked on how it is created, date and time, plus the same info is tracked when someone edits the record.
Reflector is wireless iPad screen display, but it acts flakey sometimes. RC recommends using QuickTime and a USB cord.
Apps running on at least the iPad Air 2 are fast.
Jesse from N2O Solutions gives advice for Vertical Market Solutions.
Stiletto is a platform that manages all aspects of a promotional staff agency.
When building an app, it is important to understand the business case and have the best solution to an existing problem in that market.
Generating demand for an app starts with happy customers.
“Necessity is the mother of invention”
One person can’t do everything, so think of ways to scale an app early on.
Plan to delegate some development.
The new Data Migration Tool is great for instance upgrades.
It’s really important to get feedback from the market. Does the app meet the needs and fill in the gaps of the market?
Assess the customer’s needs; an app might need to be customized for specific customers.
Give users the opportunity to provide feedback.
Why it's important to document your business workflow.
How documenting your business processes improves efficiency.
How documenting your business processes improves company morale.
Where to start when building your internal system.
When to seek outside help with building your internal system.
Find out who Ricard Carlton is and what makes him qualified to train people in FileMaker.
Giving thanks to all the people and customers that support us with their viewership and everyone that gives us feedback.
Recognizing the talented production team that works hard to get all the videos out to you.