Last Minute Thoughts for DevCon Attendees

For those of you who may not know, the start of the 2019 FileMaker Developer Conference is now just one week away. With that in mind, I’ve decided to take a break from my review of the new FileMaker 18 features that I love and assemble some DevCon-specific thoughts as I prepare to spend next week in Orlando. (Technically, we’ll all be Kissimmee, FL, but I digress.) Hopefully, you find them helpful as you get ready to travel to DevCon as well.

The Conference

Over the past few years, FileMaker DevCon has been very consistent in the quality of the sessions to be found and in the overall organization of the event. This speaks volumes to the time and effort put into planning all aspects of the event by the DevCon Committee at FileMaker, Inc. From a quick review of the schedule, I feel this year’s conference will not disappoint.

The sessions are split between four main track – Create, Share, Integrate, and Business. There is also an FBA track specifically for members of the FileMaker Business Alliance and a Sponsor track containing sessions presented by the various sponsors and exhibitors you will find at this year’s conference. And I would be remiss if I did not mention the General track, which includes the sessions presented by FileMaker, Inc. – the Opening Keynote, the Visionary Keynote, the Fireside Chat, and the Closing Session. If you want to dive even deeper into the FileMaker Platform, this conference also offers a Training Day for users of all skill levels on the Monday before the conference officially kicks off.

Before arriving at DevCon, I recommend a review of the schedule in order to plan which sessions you would like to attend. If you decide you’d rather attend a different session at a particular time, that is not a problem. There are no sign-ups or pre-registration needed to attend any of main conference sessions. You can remain flexible in your plan but it does help to have a general idea as you begin each day. (Please note that the Training Day sessions require an additional fee and the FBA sessions require membership in the FileMaker Business Alliance.)

To aide in your game planning, you will want to download your own copy of DevCon2Go here. This is a custom app optimized for FileMaker Go, and serves as your ”go to” resource for all things DevCon, including the latest schedule, sessions, and conference room updates.

As noted above, the content at this year’s conference is top notch and offers something for everyone who works with the FileMaker Platform to any degree. That said, it is very important to pace yourself. Over the course of the three days, you may find yourself trying to “drink from the firehose” in an attempt to jam every bit of knowledge into your head.

At my first DevCon, which also just happened to be in Orlando back in 2007, I recall leaving a session during the afternoon of the last day and just wondering around the exhibit hall. My brain was so full that I felt utterly dazed and confused. Since that experience, I have learned the value of pacing myself. While I still want to learn as much as I can, my goal for each session I attend is to learn one thing I didn’t know, so I can then remember it long enough to take it back to the office and incorporate it into my own FileMaker development practices. Luckily, the sessions are now recorded (I didn’t have that luxury back in the day) and you will be able to go back and review content at a later date. I have no doubt that you will certainly get the most out of your investment in attending the conference.

The Venue

I have not been here before, but I am definitely looking forward to my stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. While certainly different from the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville and the Gaylord Texan in Dallas that I have visited previously, I am expecting a number of similarities in layout and amenities. The guest rooms and atriums sit at the front of the property with the convention center and ballrooms sitting towards the back.

Based on a quick review of the schedule, it appears that the majority of activities take place on the Convention Center Ballroom Room Level (or Level #2) of the convention center space. The exceptions are the DevCon Buddy Reception on Monday and the Attendee Party on Wednesday, which simply take place on the ground floor of the convention center. Having experienced a few DevCons where the various meeting rooms and ballrooms were spread out, getting to stay on the same level will be nice. However, knowing how much food is usually available throughout the conference, the option of putting in some extra steps may not be a bad idea.

Given the size of the complex, I do recommend downloading a copy of the resort’s navigation app which is logically called Navigate Gaylord Hotels. Last year, I found I only really needed it that first day in Dallas but it was nice to have in my pocket until I learned the lay of the land. You can check it out here and see if it makes sense for you.

Ooh, Barracuda!

For the third year in a row, Cross IT can be found in the exhibitor showcase area at the FileMaker Developer Conference. It is a great opportunity to meet the members of our software development team though we prefer to be called FileMaker Jedi. After all, “That is not the spreadsheet you’re looking for.”

Joining us this year is Scot Heidelbach, our Business Development Manager. As the leader of our technology services team, he is bringing three great Barracuda products to spotlight during our time in the Exhibit Hall. These products fall in the areas of Data Protection and Email Protection, which are great additions to any company regardless of size or focus.

Barracuda Backup combines storage, software, and inline deduplication, to ensure your data is protected against loss no matter what happens. It’s easy to deploy, usually in less than an hour. There are no per-application or per-agent licensing fees, and its single-pane-of-glass admin console makes management fast and easy.

Barracuda Essentials enables customers to safely, efficiently, and economically adopt Office 365 by protecting users from dangerous ransomware and phishing attacks. It minimizes downtime, ensuring compliance retention, and enabling recovery of Exchange Online, OneDrive and Sharepoint Online data giving users peace of mind and complete protection in their Office 365 environment.

Barracuda Sentinel combines artificial intelligence, deep integration with Microsoft Office 365, and brand protection into a comprehensive cloud-based solution that guards against business email compromise, account takeover, spear phishing and other cyber fraud.

Shameless Self Promotion

With our sponsorship, Cross is presenting a Vendor session on Thursday afternoon at 2:15 PM. As discussed previously, there may come a time at DevCon where you just need to take a break. This session allows you to do just that. Come visit us in the Sun Ballroom and test your trivia knowledge by playing along with host Regis Fill-In in a rousing game of “Who Wants to Be a FileMaker Developer?” You can sign up at the Cross booth if you’d like to be a contestant or simply join the “studio” audience. ()

Finally, this year’s DevCon marks the fourth time I will be attending the FileMaker Developer Conference as a speaker. I am both honored and excited to be presenting one of the Lightning Talks this year as part of the Create track. I invite you to come to Osceola 4 – 6 and check out my session on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 PM where we will “Let It Go For a While”.

What About the Coaster Credits?

The Orlando area is well known for its collection of world-class theme parks and attractions so there are plenty of things to do before and/or after DevCon. The offerings at each park range from shows to kiddie rides to thrill rides. While everything that each park offers is top-notch, as a coaster enthusiast, I am going to spotlight a few of my favorite coaster credits that you can pick up while you’re in central Florida.

While it is celebrating its twentieth year of operation, the Incredible Hulk coaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure remains one of my favorite coasters anywhere of any style. Just a short walk away in Universal Studios, you will find the Revenge of the Mummy, a great indoor roller coasters and one of my wife’s favorites. Also located at Universal Studios, Hollywood Rip Ride Rock-It is another fun ride that is one of the more unique coasters I’ve ridden. Besides, the option to choose your own soundtrack for the duration of the ride is pretty neat. I personally recommend “That’s the Way (I Like It)” by KC and the Sunshine Band or “Gimme All Your Lovin’” by ZZ Top to get the most out of your riding experience.

If your post-DevCon plans include a trip to the Walt Disney World resort, you can certainly find some thrill rides there. My two favorites are Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you’re looking for a nice collection of coasters that the whole family can enjoy, you can’t beat the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which are all found at the Magic Kingdom.

SeaWorld Orlando boasts an outstanding collection of coasters by Bolliger & Mabillard (often abbreviated simply as B&M by us enthusiasts) if you are not interested in park hopping. The coasters include Mako, a straightforward out-and-back hypercoaster, Kraken, a floorless coaster with 7 inversions, and Manta, a flying coaster with 4 inversions. Each coaster offers a slightly different ride experience for all of your thrill seeking needs.

There are also a couple small gems to be found in the Orlando area and those can be found at Fun Spot America, which has two nearby locations – one in Orlando across I-4 from Universal Studios and one in Kissimmee that just happens to be a mile and a half from our resort. Both locations have a great, unique-to-that-park wooden roller coaster, and getting to ride either one, in my humble opinion, is certainly worth the price of admission. Speaking of admission prices, I will say you can get a season pass that works for both Fun Spot America locations for less than the cost of a single day ticket to any one of the other parks I’ve mentioned above.

I hope you find all of these tips helpful as you plan your 2019 FileMaker Developer Conference experience. If you are going to be in Orlando next week, please stop by the Cross booth and say hello.

Until next time,