At the Claris Engage Beyond 2021 event, Chief Executive Officer Brad Freitag and Vice President of Engineering Peter Nelson sat down for an Executive Q&A session to discuss the changes shaping the future of Claris and its core FileMaker™ offering. Together they were able to provide transparency and insight into how Claris is ramping up to meet their core market, supporting and enabling Citizen Developers (CDs) in meeting the challenges of today’s businesses.
Professional Low-Code and The Claris FileMaker Community
Professional Low-code exists for using intuitive, highly visual methods, where users can drag-and-drop their way to building applications. This unique segment is where “Citizen Developers” and domain owners/managers can access high-value, innovative tools with minimal time investment.
“Our focus remains on people who earn their living on our platform and who identify as Claris developers,” Freitag said. Projected to grow 23 percent by the end of 2021, Low-Code represents a $13.8 billion market. Ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic have increasingly validated the importance and value of solutions designed to lead in this market segment.
“Our intention is to improve the experience in such a way that we reach a wider audience than we previously have,” says Freitag. “We’re prioritizing improved value for that critical customer set we described and once we’ve nailed that, only then we will look to expand markets.”
Looking forward, Claris leaders and engineers are keeping a sharp focus on how FileMaker will evolve with customers to solve unique business problems and provide unlimited functionality.
The Evolution of Claris FileMaker and Professional Low-Code
As Claris FileMaker and its core customers grow and develop, the larger vision remains solid.
“Our ‘North Star’ is creating accessible solutions for low-code developers,” said Nelson. “What’s changing now is our focus on shoring up infrastructure and building workflow automation.” This includes focusing on and investing in a suite of tools capable of relatively inexpensive web deployments, along with web direct tools that allow applications to run on any mobile platform.
This includes an upcoming Mongo-backed solution Claris is currently developing. Nelson explained how this new environment will allow users to take existing FileMaker applications and the data within them and push it into a containerized Mongo backend, behind the scenes. Doing so will allow current FileMaker applications to function just as they do now, and support access to the same schema and data from a new web-based environment that is still early in development.
“This will allow users to use new Claris user interfaces, elements, and constructs while running pre-existing applications in the background without change,” he said.
Improving Simplicity, Creating Elegance
Another highlight of this Executive Q&A session was the focus Claris has put on creating greater simplicity – and elegance – across the licensing, packaging, and pricing aspects of FileMaker and other products.
“We want to make this one simple package for customers,” Freitag said. “Beginners have to be able to enter the platform and become developers, and we have to be able to reach a wider audience, so we’re doing that by creating a simplified process.”
“You have to build basic before you can build complex,” said Nelson. “As we are standing up new stuff on our end, we want to make sure that it is accessible by its very nature.” Claris intends to achieve this through overall user experience, offering approachable and consumable solutions for developers who do not have a professional-level understanding of coding language and coding platforms.
Important Investments on the Horizon
On the topic of future investments brought up during the session, Freitag and Nelson were able to assuage any questions about FileMaker’s ultimate future.
“We absolutely intend to continue investing in FileMaker,” said Freitag. “We see the continued value of it, it has decades of durability, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.” It’s a true-to-Claris design and development tenet that Nelson echoes.
“Good design of data carries the day,” said Nelson. “I’m fixated on making sure that what we do works seamlessly together and is intuitive.”
Emphasizing new stacks and tools currently behind the development curtain, Freitag outlined key investment elements that included new FileMaker functions and scripts across the full library of current and future offerings. “We intend to continue evolving those and adding to them,” said Freitag.
New Database Systems, Marked by Greater Transparency
As the Claris community looks toward the future, the theme of transparency that popped up throughout the session came back around – this time acknowledging the continued challenges of promoting the platform with new clients and addressing how new Claris technologies will accelerate and simplify that process.
“I’m a huge proponent of making sure the onboarding experience is much better and more seamless,” said Nelson. “This is about making sure the joy of using the product the first time is more intuitive and pleasant. We’re looking at a much better onboarding experience.”
Another area of improvement includes a new database system with improved functionality.
“We have a host of goals, and eventually we’d like the ability to deploy in a multi-tenant world,” Nelson said, hearkening back to his earlier comments about added functionality for core users. “This is where our open source, Mongo-backed solution comes into play. With Mongo, that’s what we’re going to be able to do through containerization and more modern processors.”
Cultivating Community and Creating a Harmonious Ecosystem
Claris has started this journey by running a series of pilots to research and validate Claris’ core beliefs about how to best onboard and enable new users to the platform.
“We want to create that harmonious ecosystem where regardless of if they’re trained professional developers or otherwise, the user’s confidence increases and they feel that they’re part of a community,” said Freitag. “The notion that they’re alone as a first-time developer figuring out the platform is what we want to do away with.”
With trained experts and resources available globally, the team at Claris looks toward elevating user experience and simplicity to create “stickiness” and long-term value when it comes to customer retention.
“Having more trained developers available is critical for us,” says Freitag. “It’s essential for creating a true community within the ecosystem of our users.”
Looking Forward for FileMaker and the Claris Community
Nelson and Freitag acknowledged the full-circle importance of creating energy and enthusiasm in the developer community, while also offering transparency on areas where Claris FileMaker is experiencing growth and investment for the future of its community.
“We have this incredibly vital, respectful community of developers and we are really looking to harness the energy of our customers,” Freitag concluded. “As we process through new investments and tying the old stuff into the new stuff, this community is really the core of our mission.”
Danielle makes things happen, driving opportunities for Codence by facilitating cross-functional marketing, branding, and growth initiatives. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Marketing from San Francisco State University. On her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and English bulldog. (Danielle is an Independent Contractor working with Codence.)