From FileMaker to Xojo

Tim Dietrich came to Xojo from the FileMaker world while searching for a development tool to use for mobile apps.

Tim’s journey with programming started back when he was in middle school. Before schools had formal computer labs, a few of the math teachers started a programming class where the assignments were done using pencil and paper. As rudimentary as it was, this is when Tim’s love of programming blossomed and he ended up majoring in Computer Science in college:

“I’ve always been intrigued by the role that technology can play in making a business more efficient, so the Information System concentration was a perfect fit for me. I made my first commercial app while I was still in college. It was a DOS-based order processing, inventory management, and bookkeeping system for small electronics distribution businesses, which I wrote in a language called Clarion. That was the first time I saw how software that I had developed could have such a big, positive impact on a small business.”

Since then Tim has worked for a number of different types of companies, and in a wide range of roles. He has worked on a large number of web development projects, which also gave him experience with database design and development work.

Finding Xojo

In 2008, Tim left a job as an in-house FileMaker developer to start his own consulting firm: “It was a huge and almost instant success, and I wasn’t prepared for it. There was - and still is - so much demand for database design and development services. I knew the demand was there, but I had no idea how big the demand was.”

By fall of 2014, Tim was feeling burned out and ready for a change of pace. He felt like he was hitting a wall with the FileMaker platform and he was very interested in developing mobile apps, so he started evaluating the available development tools.

Hal Gumbert, a fellow FileMaker developer, had been using Xojo for years and suggested Tim try it out. Xojo had just added native support for iOS, so Tim added it to his list of platforms to explore.

“Xojo clicked with me right away,” Tim said. “It was comfortable and intuitive, and it felt like a tool that I had been using for years and years. The IDE and language are nice, and the overall process that you go through when developing Xojo-based solutions is logical and makes a lot of sense to me. I was hooked and excited to have found such a tool!”

Today, most of the work Tim does is with Xojo. While he originally started using it to develop iOS apps, he’s since used Xojo to develop web apps, APIs, console apps, Web bots - even content servers for Apple TV (tvOS) apps.

Xojo vs FileMaker

“I see Xojo and FileMaker as being very different tools. What you can do with them overlaps a bit, but for the most part they’re tools that complement each other. FileMaker is great for rapidly developing database solutions but depending on what you’re trying to build, scalability and licensing costs can be issues.”

“Xojo is much more powerful and significantly more flexible with regards to what you can create with it,” Tim continued. “While Xojo is a rapid application development tool, you’ve got to write code in order to build anything with it, which is very different from FileMaker. But this also gives you more power and control when developing solutions.”

“If you love programming, I think you’ll love Xojo. The Xojo language is logical, and there really isn’t much that you can’t do with it. The fact that you can use Xojo to develop so many different types of apps (desktop, web, mobile, console) for so many operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux - even Raspberry Pi) is absolutely amazing. As a developer that gets involved in such a wide range of projects, I find Xojo to be a very powerful, and indispensable, tool.”

“My investment in time spent learning Xojo has paid off significantly, and my passion for development - which had started to wane quite a bit during the years that I was doing FileMaker development - has been renewed. I truly feel that I owe that renewed passion to Xojo.”

Looking Ahead

Tim has a very full plate these days. He's working on a Luna-like framework to support micro services, and a large, complex mobile and web system for first responders. In his spare time, Tim is working on an online course to help people learn to develop iOS apps with Xojo and plans to do one for web apps after that.


This is a screenshot of “Mandala Meditations,” an Apple TV app that is powered by the Xojo-based Viewpoint application server.

These are screenshots of the Apple TV app that Tim used as a demo at XDC 2016. It, too, is powered by the Xojo-based Viewpoint application server.

These are screenshots of "ICD-10 Research 2017," an iOS app that Tim developed with Xojo. It's an iPhone app that makes it easy for healthcare professionals to locate medical diagnosis codes.

This is a screenshot of a Web app that Tim is developing for a client. This is the web component of the “first responder” app that was mentioned before. (The data shown is fake, by the way!)