You, Ms. / Mr. FileMaker developer can be a JavaScript developer as well. You can learn JavaScript and use it in your daily work.

FileMaker folks are suited for JavaScript. Though we may have stumbled into the FileMaker platform, we have enough knowledge and conceptual understanding to program also in JavaScript. There are many reasons why we can learn and why we should learn JavaScript. Let’s examine them.

Can Learn

A simple & powerful language

JavaScript was designed to be a beginner’s language. Like the Dick & Jane books or Sesame Street, JS’s structure and language is simple. It uses normal words and and a straightforward syntax. I bet you could figure out what this JS function does:

function sum (){
var a = 3, b = 5;
return a + b;
};

(answer: this is a function called “sum” that assigns values to two variables and then returns the sum).

This simple language is appealing. That’s not to say the language is impotent in any way. It is incredibly powerful.  Complex powerful applications that are used by billions of people around the world, like QuickBooks Online, and Facebook are built with JavaScript.

FileMaker knowledge

Our FileMaker knowledge can help us to learn JavaScript faster. We already have an understanding of such things as variables, variable scope, functions ( scripts and FM functions), and parameters. We can leverage what we know about FileMaker to help us learn JavaScript better.

The VAST community

On the recent StackOverflow survey, 62% of respondents said JS was their favorite language. People devote their career to working in JavaScript, so there’s a plethora of resources out there from which to learn and ask questions.

I learned it

Though I’m still plugging away, I feel pretty confident in my JavaScript knowledge. I played around with the language a lot and built countless FileMaker and html filles and watch hundreds of hours of video, but I learned it. You can too.

There are many reasons we can learn JavaScript. Let’s take a look at why we should learn the language.

Should Learn

Native FileMaker

We should learn JavaScript because it is a native part of FileMaker. It is supported on every part of the platform: FileMaker Pro and FileMaker Go runs JS in a web viewer, and FileMaker Server 16 includes node.js ( a JavaScript framework) in the install. Even WebDirect can run JavaScript in a limited way.

Since it is part of the platform, it behooves us to spend time with it and learn it. We can use JS to solve some vexing UI and scripting problems we occasionally encounter in normal FileMaker development. If your client wants a portal to have columns that sort in whatever combination she wants, a JavaScript library can solve this problem in much less time than it takes to develop it using FileMaker buttons and scripts.

If we have our way, FileMaker functions one day will call JavaScript functions. Right now we can do that with some small workaround (and will show that very soon). GoDraw3 uses this FileMaker-calling-JS-functions idea (check it out and download the unlocked trial version).

‘Tis the future

JavaScript will be around a long time:

  • JavaScript ranks number 1 in a survey of favorite languages or languages in use.
  • JavaScript is a cross-platform language.
  • The JS community invests tons of time in creating libraries
  • JS runs both on the client (in the browser) and server-side (using node.js).

If you do not learn it, your competitor will

Some day, some client will come to you with a use case to solve using their FileMaker custom app. Without the multi-tool capabilities of JS in your belt, the problem cannot be solved easily, and your client will find someone that can solve it.

Moonlighting

I know you’re not looking, but knowing JS can open up other job possibilities. JS developers are few, and the jobs are abundant. It’s a developer’s market.

So what’s your excuse?

Answer: there is none. It is important for FileMaker developers to see beyond just scripts and layout objects and view what’s possible and the tools that make those possible. So learn it.

Okay, I thought of an excuse: timing / familiarity. Folks think they don’t have the time to learn something that looks scary. Learning FileMaker is a full-time job, they say. These folks do not recognize their brains are primed for this language. It’s scary to jump into something new.

Join me at DevCon & Learn JavaScript

At FileMaker DevCon 2018, I will do my best to help folks learn JavaScript concepts and some techniques, taking away the scary and unfamiliar nature of it. We will spend a half-day training session learning the syntax and JS concepts, and will spend lots of time coding. We’ll start with FileMaker and use our knowledge of that platform to learn JavaScript. My training session is on Monday, just before the full conference starts.

Learning objectives

We have specific learning objectives. You’ll walk away with a lot of knowledge:

By the end of the session, FMDWBAT*:

  • Write JavaScript apps using the FileMaker web viewer and a text field
  • Pass FileMaker data to a JavaScript function
  • Retrieve the result of a JavaScript function to FileMaker
  • Customize an integration of popular JavaScript libraries
  • Use FileMaker scripts to call JavaScript functions (passing data to and retrieving data from the JS function).

*FMDWBT = “FileMaker Developers will be able to” –a derivation of a phrase I wrote on my classroom chalkboard/ whiteboard / smartboard everyday that proceeded that day’s objectives.

Complete documentation

Because I’m a teacher, you will be given lots of materials with which to participate during the session and continue your study afterwards. Here’s what will be available during and after the training:

  • The similarities between FileMaker and JavaScript
  • JavaScript use cases of varying levels
  • A playground in which to try out our JS code.
  • Videos of yours truly demonstrating a JS app for your repeated viewing at your own pace.
  • Great differentiated help.
  • Extensions: tasks and learning materials continuing through the week. Who needs the pool when you can continue to solidly your knowledge of JS.

Welcome anyone of any level

Join me and learn JavaScript as painlessly as possible no matter where you’re at in your FileMaker development path.

I’m a teacher at heart, so I’m there to guide and redirect and support anyone. We will work together to bring JavaScript more into the community so that we can talk about it from the FileMaker perspective just as often in the community as we talk about SSL or ExecuteSQL.

Feel free to shoot me any questions about the training. I’m happy to answer them: jeremy@geistinteractive.com.

See you in just three months!

 

 


Also published on Medium.

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