Flying back on the plane from San Diego after attending DevCon 2010, I’m struck by a revelation that isn’t going to be moderated in a panel or find its way into a group presentation. It certainly isn’t going to show up on a FileMaker Go! list and will never be demo’ed in the closing. My thought is as simple as this; I think that FileMaker CFO Bill Epling is a metaphor for everything that is FileMaker. Or he is a cyborg. Take your pick.
I met Mr. Epling for the first time at a FileMaker Platinum Partner lunch several years ago. I was immediately drawn to his sense of humor and his down to earth mannerism. These characteristics made it easy to open up and talk to him. And talk I did. I performed the dreaded, “You know what FileMaker should do…” chorus several times during the lunch. What stood out the most to me was the fact that not only did he listen, but he pulled out a piece of paper and started taking notes. I got the sense early that he was listening and he had every intention of considering my position and researching potential actions. For the record, I told him that FileMaker should create a version for the iPad and the iPhone. OK, OK, so maybe the iPad/iPhone combo wasn’t out yet, but I still invented it. Pass that nugget on…
This initial meeting turned into several DevCons of recognition. He didn’t let the tirade affect our relationship and made it a point to call me out when he saw me walking the halls looking for a session to attend. He continued to make me feel welcome to the event.
Over the course of DevCon 2010, I had the opportunity to talk to him at some length, twice. Once at the bar and once on the drive home from the Platinum Partner dinner. The former I witnessed something that I had never seen before, the latter, I heard something I couldn’t believe.
At the bar, Mr. Epling was enjoying a drink (and I assume the company) when an attendee came up and told him that she loved the opening and thought that he was doing a great job as the FileMaker president (Dominique Goupil). He leaned over to me with a half smirk and said, “I get this all the time”. With humor as his guide, he explained to the badge holder that this was a case of mistaken identity. Incredulously, she didn’t believe him. After more light banter and Mr. Epling’s denials, I could tell that she still didn’t believe him. I offered the smoking gun proof; the lack of a French accent. I don’t know if it worked but she made her way off to her friends.
The drive home from the Platinum Partner dinner brought us in contact again. We started talking about his family and his sports background. It turns out he was the free safety on the Columbia Lions football from 1952. Kidding about the year, but I wouldn’t even begin to guess on how old he is, I don’t want him to hit me with his leather helmet. He laid two bombs on me during the conversation. The first is that he could dunk a basketball…still. The second was that back in the day he could rip off a Usain Bolt-esque 4.6 forty. Unheard of.
So what is the tie in to Mr. Epling and FileMaker? As Hammer would say, break it down:
Interface – Both the FileMaker and the Epling v1.0 interface is easy to use and draws you in. You don’t have to be a stud developer to take advantage of the features of the system. It has the simple, intuitive nature of a program that invites you in and doesn’t make too much fun of you if you do something wrong. It’s ability to run OSX, Windows, and now iOS4 makes it the most popular database in the room.
Under the hood – Both FileMaker and the Epling core (again v1.0) are not what initially meets the eye. It proves that simple to use does not mean simple. FileMaker can be very complex with features that allow it to reach up and graze the bottoms of some very large enterprise wide SQL/Oracle systems. With ESS, charting, mobility, and scripting, FileMaker, again like the Epling core, will allow you to embrace simplicity but create unbelievably intricate solutions with a minimum of effort. Unbelievable features with a minimum of effort. If you want something powerful and fast, FileMaker has to be the choice. FileMaker allows you to create back office systems in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost. If you need a business process application, it should be in the top one of your choices.
So the next time you see Dominique in the hallway, challenge him to a foot race. If you get your ass kicked, that was actually Bill. Don’t show any shame, just buy him a drink. He likes Merlot.