From Dwayne Wright PMP, PMI-ACP, CSM
Certified FileMaker Developer
There are a number of guidelines that will help you make an artful solution regardless of your artistic skills. First and foremost among them is Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) or its kissing cousin of Keep It Simple Smart Guy/Gal (KISSG). This is should be your foremost thought with the 1.0 version of your solution. There are a number of reasons to keep 1.0 simple this and since we are at it … why not list them?
- it is easier to add new features than to take them away and clean up after yourself
- you will want to reap the rewards of later and more robust versions that have new features available
- your users will likely tell you what enhancements would be best for the next version
- you don’t want your first version to scare or intimidate people
- you spend weeks perfecting a feature that upon rollout many users decide not to use
- your customers may pay you a hourly consulting rate to roll a feature in, which you may be able to put into the next upgrade
- Microsoft does it that way, ever notice how the 1.0 version of their stuff is a little wimpy? Somewhere around version 3.0, it starts shaping up to be a pretty decent package.
HOW COMPLEX SHOULD YOU MAKE YOUR SOLUTION?
This is an age old question in the software development world. In fact, I’m certain FileMaker Inc. has struggled or is struggling with this question themselves. How far do you want to go, to be all things to all people? Is going after a niche market more attractive to you?
Do you feel the more features, the merrier? Perhaps you feel that some applications are loaded with features you don’t know or care about. You would rather have a smaller and more nimble application at a reasonable price.
More features ( good ) ... equal more productivity
More features ( not so good ) ... more demand for a more powerful computer, more interface controls, higher investment from customer to purchase, higher investment for each user to learn how to use all the features or find the features they really need.
Some people think that more complex application has to be superior to its less complex counterparts. I’m not sure that I would agree with that statement. There are other database programs more complex than FileMaker. Why are you still using FileMaker? I can only speak for myself, but for me it is because FileMaker is very powerful, flexible and does what I need to do very well.
One key advantage to a solution that is based upon a FileMaker engine is that, you can always add more complex, work specific features after the sale. Many FileMaker products are sold totally open, so the customer can make their own modifications. There are some risks for the developer involved in doing in selling open solutions (piracy) but customers really love them. Customer love to purchase open FileMaker framework applications because the majority of heavy lifting programming is already done for them. They can also tweak the application to include just the features they want or their users need!
Another possible drawback of making a complex and feature rich software application is supporting it. The more features you put into a solution, turns into more things that can go wrong or need training for users to properly access them. A good example of this is security options. Any increase in added security in a FileMaker solution has the almost certain effect of making it less flexible and more difficult to support. However, almost every workgroup needs to have security added to their database to protect the data and the business behind it.
More info about the author and FileMaker in general, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 - Dwayne Wright - dwaynewright.com
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