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Q&A with Jeff Williams

by Danielle Borges - Marketing Director

Jeff was introduced to FileMaker in 2004 when he joined his family’s school, sport, and event photography company. His diverse background includes experience in Education, IT, Photography, Printing, Manufacturing, and Insurance. He has a passion for Process Improvement and LEAN business tools. During the pandemic in 2020, he formed TEK Collaborative, a nonprofit focused on digital equity and closing the digital divide. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, working with his daughter on her softball skills, and tinkering with his 1967 Camaro.

What is your role and what drew you to Codence originally?

My primary role at Codence is Project Manager, however, I assist with the development and IT when needed.

Your professional journey is unique, can you share how you got involved with Claris FileMaker?

Early in my professional career I was doing some development work with databases using Microsoft Access and SQL. I moved to Massachusetts in 2004 when I met my wife and joined their family business as a systems administrator. They were using a FileMaker system that was built by a former employee and it was in need of upgrades and updates. The fundamentals of FileMaker are similar to other types of relational databases, so I felt confident I could learn what was needed to take over the system they were using. I took a few FileMaker training courses, and the rest, as they say is history.

During the pandemic, you founded a nonprofit, Tek Collaborative. What is that all about?

I was working from home in the fall of 2020 and our daughter was participating in remote learning. Our daughter’s desk was setup next to mine so I could keep tabs on her progress. What I witnessed really surprised me. Students and teachers were struggling to stay connected, and many lacked an adequate device to support remote learning. Our daughter was lucky, her dad loves technology, so she had everything she needed to be successful. In the moment, I felt compelled to try to help the students and teachers that were struggling. I created a GoFundMe page and started campaigning for donations. Every dollar that I collected was used to acquire a device that was given free of charge to anyone that needed it. It has been about 2 years, we have raised almost $75,000.00 and have distributed close to 2000 devices to at risk communities throughout New England.

What’s the most challenging aspect of working in FileMaker?

There are so many possible ways to create and leverage FileMaker solutions that sometimes projects can turn into a runaway train. Once people realize how capable and flexible FileMaker is, it opens their eyes to possibilities they never realized. Keeping a balance between needs and wants is a major key to successfully delivering on a project.

What is the ONE feature you would add to FileMaker if you could?

I would love to see a way to deploy database changes and UI changes separately. Many times as developers we are asked to work on a client’s “live” system, the ability to separate the UI from the database would add another layer of flexibility that doesn’t currently exist.

How would you address the legitimate point a developer might make: that estimating a task is impossible prior to build a given feature because we often solve and design as we go. It’s impossible to know how long something will take until we get into it?

While that point may be somewhat legitimate, as a developer you should be able to draw from past experience and formulate a possible range of time something may take. Every developer has standards they follow, but will usually add some of their own style. When breaking down a task it’s important to focus on what is known and to use that to create the “bones” of a timeline. Once done you can then shift to the unknowns, and yes, you will need to make some assumptions. However, those assumptions are based off of what is known and not just blindly pulled from a hat.

What book are you currently reading?

The author Esquire Rushnell has a series of books that are based on what he calls, “God Winks”. The fundamental principle is that there is no such thing as coincidence, there is a higher power that if we pay close enough attention, we will see the bread crumbs that influence the decisions we make in life.

Any favorite line from a movie?

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – “I’m Marry Poppins Y’all”. I laugh every time no matter how many times I see it.

What’s one of your favorite memories from the past year?

When my nonprofit, TEK Collaborative, received a grant for $50,000.00. I am still blown away.

What’s something you saw recently that made you smile?

Watching my daughter pitch in her first softball tournament. I was so very proud of her.

Danielle Borges

Marketing Director

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.)

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