FileMaker Training 2018-01-03T19:08:40+00:00

FileMaker Training Series

FMP14_ADVFileMaker Training Classes! 

Surefoot founder, Jim Medema, has been teaching FileMaker classes, coaching, and mentoring students on FileMaker for over 22 years from coast to coast and at the FileMaker Developer Conference. The printed version of the FileMaker Training Series (FTS) curriculum ended a long, successful run with the release of FileMaker 16. FileMaker, as a corporation, is no longer updating FTS and is instead moving much of its training to online videos. That said, there are still many budding developers for whom an in-person classroom experience provides the best results as well as an opportunity to interact with an expert instructor.

FTS still provides the core of our curriculum, though we add exercises and content specific to FileMaker 16 and, in the future v17 and v18! Coincidentally, Jim designed and built the core of the most-used example file in FTS, called “Bonsai Gardens,” and has served on the proof-reading team for the last two updates of the FTS materials.

Read the information below, or call (612-743-9527) to learn more about our FileMaker Training offerings and find out which one is best for you!

 surefoot founder teaching at devcon 2018!

Filemaker Developer Conference 2016

Marketing image for the most recent FileMaker DevCon

Surefoot founder, Jim Medema, has been a speaker and teacher at the last four Developer Conventions and will again be teaching at the 2018 Filemaker Developer Conference during the Pre-Con training day. Jim will be presenting “FileMaker Training Series: Beginner Training 101,” an all-day introduction to the broad range of skills needed for effective development in Filemaker. Registration for DevCon 2018 will open soon so stay tuned!

Jim is no stranger to attendees at the Filemaker Developer Conference. Last year he taught the full-day beginner course during Pre-Con. Two years ago, he taught the “1-day Intermediate FileMaker Workshop” highlighting all the top features and skills in Filemaker. And in 2014, he presented 2 different breakout sessions—the first session was about data modeling and the second spoke to the process of starting and growing an independent consulting business.

how we train

Surefoot founder, Jim Medema, has been teaching since 1990 and conducting FileMaker Training classes for over 20 years. During this time he has impacted 1000’s of students from nearly as many organizations. He is one of about 25 people in the world who have earned every Developer Certification and every Authorized Trainer Certification.

All trainers cover key concepts and skill-building. Surefoot stands apart by guiding an ongoing conversation in every class about  best practices – the tasks, techniques and habits that set apart the exceptional from the average. In the same way that knowing how to use a hammer and saw won’t make you a master carpenter, knowing what a FileMaker feature does won’t make you a star developer.

And for those who want more than just curriculum-based training on example files, our 5-day “Outfitter Package” offers 2 student-focused days when we focus on designing and building your solution in a workshop style format. Students who take this course have something to show the boss when they get back to work on the following Monday!

Finally, for those who love FileMaker and really want to make the most of their training so that they can fully design, build and maintain their solution and their business, Surefoot recommends the 5-day Outfitter Package followed by a flexible, customized mentoring plan that provides just the right amount of coaching right when it’s needed most.

Read more about it below!

Training Guarantee

Surefoot unequivocally guarantees that you will grow in your knowledge and skills as a developer and user! If you are not delighted with any course you have taken with Surefoot, we will fully refund your registration fee. No questions! No fine print!


  1. Review the Training Formats to see what format  best meet your needs
  2. Review the Course Descriptions to find the course that best matches your objectives
  3. Review the Course Calendar to select the dates that match your schedule
  4. Review the Training FAQ at the bottom of the page
  5. Call Surefoot with questions or to discuss mentoring or custom training
  6. Register!


This format is exactly what you’d expect from a traditional hands-on training course: curriculum-driven teaching with hands-on exercises and time for discussion. The greatest strength of this type of classes is the structured nature of the content and the deliberate intention to work through the curriculum.

Due to the sheer amount of information covered in these classes, the expectation is not necessarily a mastery of knowledge, skills and techniques. There’s simply too much. Rather, students should expect a thorough introduction on a broad range of topics that will, at minimum, be “familiar terrain” when revisiting them again in the future.

The “Intro to FileMaker: Newbie to Power User” and “FTS Advanced” classes follow this classic format. These are 1-day and 3-day classes, respectively, and are highly recommended for students who want a broadly focused FileMaker training experience. The 3-day “Essentials” class uses the Authorized FileMaker Training Series: Advanced (FTS Advanced) book that comprises over 700 pages of the best, most thorough curriculum available. The 1-day Intro class utilizes the Authorized FileMaker Training Series: Basics (FTS Basics) and is perfect for those who are new to FileMaker and those who want to ensure that they have a solid grounding in its usage and just a taste of basic development skills.

Intensives are a mixture of instructor-led training, guided group work and one-on-one coaching in a relaxed, workshop-like atmosphere.

Sometimes it’s just one thing, just one area that you want to dig into – deeply. The “Intensive Series” is just what you need! Surefoot knows where most growing developers struggle and offers half and full-day “Intensives” on these critical areas that can bring newer developers to a grinding halt. Whereas the multi-day, curriculum-focused courses can feel like drinking from a fire hose, Intensives concentrate on a specific topic and are focused on mastery (rather than the broad introduction of classic instruction).

One of the best things about Intensives is that students have the opportunity to work on their own solutions, instead of just example files. You will walk away from Intensives with your solution in hand, and it will be miles down the trail from where you started!

Custom training is available for groups desiring training in specific concepts and skills. You can pick and choose the concepts, topics and techniques you want to master and, if desired, you can request custom curriculum written for your specific needs. Training can be focused on using your database or we can provide example files for the course. Together we set the format for either hands-on or lecture, or a mixture of both, whichever serves your group best.

Custom training sessions can be held onsite at your offices or another convenient location, or at Surefoot’s training center in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, MN.

For users desiring one-on-one coaching/mentoring/training, Surefoot can work with you to set up the exact training experience that will benefit you most – all based on your needs. We can use standard curriculum or work together on your database at a pace and timeline that fits your schedule! Onsite and remote mentoring options are available. Call 612-743-9527 to discuss your training needs.
Lee Lukehart, founder of SavvyData and trusted Surefoot partner, is one of the names that keeps cropping up in the FileMaker world in ways both enjoyable and impressive. In addition to “stock” training, Lee offers specialty classes that you won’t find anywhere else! Surefoot is proud to support the work and training offered by SavvyData. Learn more about other SavvyData courses.
Even with the latest and greatest screen sharing technologies and the prevalence of webinars, students who are physically present in a group learning environment learn and retain a great deal more than they would in an online course. As such, Surefoot only performs online training only for one-on-one remote coaching and for short lecture-style training sessions of an hour or less. If online training looks to be the best fit for you, contact Surefoot directly to discuss your specific training needs.

a teacher that speaks “human”

Jim Medema, FileMaker TrainingOriginally trained to be an educator, Surefoot’s founder, Jim Medema, has trained over 1000 students in the art and science of relational database development using FileMaker products and related supporting applications. And there’s this added bonus: Jim’s B.A. was in English, so your chances of actually understanding the class without a geek translation device are extremely high!



This is a perfect class for users who are new to FileMaker, investigating FileMaker as a possible platform for their database, and for those who want to move towards the title of “Power User”. This course follows the classic instructional format and is a fun and full day covering all the basics of using FileMaker. We also dip our toes into the waters of development so users get a taste of what it’s like to design and develop a database using FileMaker Pro.

This course is best suited for:

  • Users who are new to Filemaker
  • Users who are investigating FileMaker as a possible platform for their organization and want a solid user orientation
  • Users who want to ensure a solid foundation before attending the FTS Advanced class
  • Users wanting to dip their toes into the shallow waters of development

This is, by far, our most popular class! To prepare students for the course and to help us understand how we can ensure their success, we interview every student a week or so before the class. We want to understand more of your background, experience, and what your objectives are for attending the class.In this hands-on, exercise-intensive classroom atmosphere, we will power through a lengthy list of key development concepts in a guided, information-packed format using the best curriculum available.This course is best for students who want to get a thorough education about developing in FileMaker in the shortest possible time frame. At times it may feel like you’re “drinking from a fire hose” but trust us – you’ll love it!These classes utilize the official Authorized FileMaker Training Series: Advanced curriculum, the most-used and most comprehensive FileMaker curriculum available.Then, to wrap up your training, all students receive a complimentary 1-hour follow up consultation within a few weeks after the course. Our objective, from start to finish, is to do all we can to ensure that you learn, and learn well, the core concepts of developing with FileMaker.IMPORTANT: Remember going to a fair and seeing the signs near each ride that says “You must be THIS tall to go on this ride”? Right there on the sign was a painted line where kids would measure themselves to see if they were allowed in. In the same way, this course assumes some core knowledge and experience with FileMaker, without which a student is likely to struggle through some of the more difficult concepts in the class.If you are an active user of FileMaker and feel confident in your user skills, you should be just fine. However, for people who are really new to FileMaker, we encourage students to consider first attending the Intro to FileMaker class (“Newbie to Power User”) before registering for this class. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready for this class, give us a call and we can help you figure out what your smartest move should be.

This course is best suited for:

  • Users who want to get a broad introduction to as many core FileMaker concepts as possible
  • Users who are assuming (or want to assume) a larger role as “Developer”
  • Developers who want to kick their knowledge level up several notches
We are very excited to introduce a special new package of classes that are entirely designed to GET YOU STARTED on your project! Here’s some of what we know:

Most students who attend FileMaker training…
  • Have an actual project in mind that they need to work on when they return from training
  • Want to get started immediately on that project when they return
  • Are “full to the brim” with new knowledge after the 3-day FTS class (“overwhelmed” is a common refrain)
When the training is over, most students…
  • Get back to their workplace and are overtaken by their normal work tasks, emails, phone calls, meetings, etc.
  • Find it difficult to set aside time for development and may eventually forget how best to get started
  • Wish they could have gotten started immediately after the FTS 3-day class when everything was fresh in their mind
  • Wish they had the chance to discuss THEIR project in detail, even though they loved the training materials
  • Wish they were more confident in the data structure of this new solution they are tasked with building
  • Wish for some honest and expert guidance and feedback on the new solution they are starting
We can help! And here’s how…

We are combining into a single, comprehensive, 5-day session, everything you get in the FTS Advanced course (the pre-class interview, the 3-day FTS course, and the complimentary after-class consultation) PLUS the two most critical Intensive courses that you will need to actually start building your solution: Data Modeling and Layout Design! Here’s how the 3 courses of the Outfitter Training Package fit together:

FileMaker Training Series: Advanced (3-day)
Equips you with the technical training and skill building using the best curriculum available

Intensive: Data Modeling
In a workshop/mentoring structure we will together work to design a data model for each individual student’s personal project. Each student will then begin developing the core of the file structure of their database.

Intensive: Layout Design
In a workshop/mentoring format, together we will plan and design the core theme for each student’s personal project

NOTE: Users should have a solid understanding of Fields, Layouts and Calculations before taking this course.

Over the years we’ve worked with many clients who got “stuck” while working on solutions with seemingly needless (and endless) complexity. Many found themselves reduced to coding by trial and error. Others clients hit a ceiling where they could no longer “grow” a solution because of similar complexities. In a calmer moment they would describe it as “spaghetti code,” but other times, well…

Surprisingly often, the source of their problem involved major issues in their underlying data model. Sometimes the data model wasn’t fully conceived, and in other cases it was never really conceived at all – it kind of came along as an afterthought. Experienced developers start new solutions on the drawing board, mapping out their data model – NOT in layout mode choosing colors and fonts and adding fields as they think them up! They know that a poorly conceived data model will result in nightmares all around: relationships graph, layouts, field calculations, scripting, security…all of it!

“Of all the classes that Surefoot offers, this is the one that every serious student of database development must take, because the sad truth is this: If you get your data model wrong, it won’t matter how talented a developer you are. You will go down in flames.”

This course is about getting it right! The morning will start with instruction in core concepts as a group. We will then transition to working in teams to construct a data model for each student based on the needs and requirements of their solution. For the remainder of our time, students will work in FileMaker and create a working Relationships Graph using Tables and fields based on their data model. Whether you arrive with an existing database or have ideas on the back of a napkin, you will leave with a data model and FileMaker file in hand and the knowledge of how to build, or rebuild, a solid foundation for your solution.

This course is best suited for:

  • New and growing developers who have a vested interest in getting it right the first time (low tolerance for rework)
  • Developers in the planning stages for a new database for themselves or their company
  • Developers struggling to support organically grown systems created over time by several people who each had their own ideas about doing things •Developers who have hit a “complexity ceiling” and can no longer grow their solution as required
  • Experienced developers who are still a little fuzzy about data modeling and ERDs
  • Anyone who wants to develop databases but isn’t yet adept at this critical, must-have, do-or-die skill

NOTE: Students should have a solid understanding of fields, data modeling, calculations and scripts before attending this workshop.

OK, the Data Modeling Intensive is one of our most critical classes and even though we have a good time in that course, this class blows the fun factor out of the water! Surefoot predicts that FileMaker 13 will be known in years to come as “the Big Design Release” because of all the great new layout design features. What makes this class so great is that after learning the FileMaker tools for layout design, we will spend the rest of our time learning the other tools!

There are several FREE, extremely useful tools and websites that we will explore in our quest to learn how to fully customize a layout and give it that professional touch that makes your UI (User Interface) sizzle and shine. We will clue you into our favorite tools and websites and show you what you need to know. NOTE: Attendees will receive a special gift of one of the best books we’ve found on user interface design!

This course is best suited for:

  • Developers who have no creative skill whatsoever (welcome!)
  • Developers who want a power boost to grab all the latest and greatest FM13 design features
  • Developers who are bored with their own layout design and whose users, unfortunately agree
  • Developers who want to know how to get the most out of the sweet new features
  • Developers who are dissatisfied with the time it takes them to create and manage their layouts

NOTE: Users should have a solid understanding of Fields, Data Modeling, Layouts and Calculations before taking this course.

If you remember the old television show “Name that Tune” and the phrase “I can name that tune in 2 notes” you were probably born before 1984. You also will easily get the gist of where we’re heading here: Reduce the quantity of notes (end user steps) from many to one. The goal of every script is to automate multi-step processes and thereby reduce the effort required of the end user. The very attainable objective is to make the whole thing work with the click of a single button or, in many cases, no buttons at all! Build a solution with many automations (scripts) and that, my friends, is where you can start seeing massive end user productivity increases!

This automation is accomplished by writing a script, or automation routine. Once it’s written and tested, we can trigger that script to run whenever we want using buttons and other triggering techniques.

The first half of the day we will cover the key concepts of writing clear, effective, efficient scripts. After lunch we move into full workshop mode as students get to plan and implement scripts in their own solutions! Students who don’t have a solution to work on will be provided with files to work on and common scripting scenarios. A team approach to the afternoon ensures that we consider “What’s the best way to do this?” before students grab their keyboards and start coding. Every part of the day will be bathed (of course!) in best practices.

This course is best suited for:

  • Developers who are still fairly new to scripting (warning: once you start scripting, you’ll never stop)
  • Developers who know their company would benefit from automation, but they just don’t know how make it happen
  • Developers whose current solutions are flat and require manual entry for pretty much everything •Developers interested in boosting productivity of their users by a factor of X, Y or even Z!
  • Developers who want to their business title changed to “Data Magician”

Required Hardware: Users must provide their own iPad or iPhone and have installed FileMaker Go from the iTunes App Store before class. FileMaker Go is FREE!

NOTE: The class requires work in FM13, so students who want to use their own laptops should take them AND have FM13 Advanced installed before they come. Surefoot can provide students with workstations upon request.

IMPORTANT: Students attending this course should have a solid understanding of fields, data modeling, layouts, calculations, scripts, reporting, portals and script triggers before taking this course.

We will start the day learning the essential techniques, concepts and considerations of using and designing for FileMaker Go via both teaching and exercise files. During the later part of the day, students will work on their own solutions or example files in a workshop format. We will work as a group to formulate a preliminary plan for each student’s project needs, after which students will have work time to begin or continue their development with FileMaker Go.

This course is best suited for:

  • Developers who need to learn the “In’s and Out’s” of designing and deploying a data solution to iOS users
  • Developers interested in learning what they can and cannot do from a FileMaker Go platform
  • Developers who want to learn what work an FMGo deployment will require of them on existing solutions
  • Developers who want the fast track to deployment and want to be “leading edge”, but not “bleeding edge”

“I live in Mississippi and traveled to Minnesota for the Surefoot 3-day Advanced training session, followed by 2 days of intensive training, and it was worth every mile of the trip. There were all levels of FileMaker developers in my class, which allowed us to learn from each others’ varied experiences. In spite of the immense amount of material we worked through, I never felt stressed or overwhelmed because Jim made the classroom setting so comfortable and laid back. I am also working with Jim now via the Remote (online) Training and cannot believe how much more I’ve learned and have been able to accomplish with Jim’s help and guidance. I give this course a 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone working on developing a FileMaker solution, no matter what your skill level.”

Karie Sorrells, eKnowledge Curator, Hybrid Plastics Inc. - Hattiesburg, MS

Training FAQ

Most students take their own laptops to the class and you are welcome to do so. With the exception of “Intro to FileMaker” class which only requires the standard version of FileMaker Pro 15, ALL CLASSES REQUIRE STUDENTS TO USE FILEMAKER PRO 15 ADVANCED. If you are taking your own computer, the appropriate FileMaker software must be installed and tested before class.

Yes, Surefoot will gladly provide workstations for users who do not take their own laptops. We normally require at least 4 days notice to prep workstations. If you do not yet have FMP Advanced, there are a dozen reasons why everyone doing regular FileMaker development should! Click here to Compare FileMaker Pro with FileMaker Pro Advanced.

Review FMP and FMPA
Surefoot’s primary training location is at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, MN, a first tier western suburb of Minneapolis just 10-minutes west of downtown. In addition to a being a great facility, there are dozens of restaurants within walking distance and several hotels within a few miles. If you are traveling to Minneapolis and want ideas of great things to see and do, let us know! The street address is 7520 Golden Valley Rd, Golden Valley, MN 55427.


Surefoot regularly provides custom training for clients in all of the following formats:

      • One-one-one and small team coaching/mentoring sessions (in-person and remotely via screen sharing)
      • Design and development of custom training materials and quick-guides (double-sided “cheat sheets”)
      • Small and large group training based on client’s requested areas of focus
      • Onsite training at client sites or another desired location

We have found that students who attend a training course before starting a coaching/mentoring relationship are more successful in building and supporting their databases.

Student Cancellations: Students who must cancel a class must contact Surefoot at least 7 days before the class begins. Please note that other students may be traveling long distance for the class and may have already paid for flights, etc. Late cancellations can have a significant impact on other students if a class must be cancelled due to insufficient enrollment.

Surefoot Class Cancellations: Surefoot reserves the right to cancel classes due to insufficient enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances. If your class is cancelled due to insufficient enrollment, we will notify you as soon as possible, but at least 5 days before the class start date. You may then transfer your registration to another scheduled class, or receive a full refund.

We know that learning new technologies can be overwhelming when it comes all at once (“drinking from a fire hose”). You may retake any of our courses for only $99 per day. Please note that retakes are on a space-available basis.