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Looking back on 20 years at Lesterius

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Looking back on 20 years at Lesterius

I don’t know what technology or computer language will be used in twenty years’ time, but I do know that it will still be about interaction with the customer, about looking for solutions together. Glenn Vercnocke and Koen Van Hulle have been working for Lesterius for twenty years. On the occasion of this anniversary they look back, and also ahead, to the future of workplace innovation.

Both are experts within the Claris FileMaker platform. Glenn Vercnocke is Digital Transformation Consultant, and was, in his own words, an ‘attic programmer’ 20 years ago when he started at SHpartners (the Belgian predecessor of Lesterius). Koen van Hulle is Business Unit Manager (responsible for hosting) and worked twenty years ago at a company that was taken over by SHpartners after a bankruptcy. That takeover caused the company to double from five to ten employees.
At that time, SHPartners did not even have its own offices. There was no need for that, we worked at the customers’ premises. We would meet at a car park along the motorway and drive to the client together, to work in the meeting room or so. Sometimes we had to ask the customers to move a bit, so we could sit down too,’ says Koen. Glenn adds: ‘I had a whole bag of cables for all kinds of peripheral equipment, wifi didn’t exist back then. Internet was hardly available. We could only read our mails at home’.
The projects back then were different from the projects today. It was very limited, the customer asked us to make sure he could make invoices or quotes, simple applications. It was very technical. We were the gurus, like ‘Mr Doctor’ used to be. Now it is much more of an interaction. Looking for a solution together with the customer. Technology is now more of a secondary concern.
We were pioneers. Twenty years ago, a lot of things were still done on paper. The fact that you could automate repetitive processes was not self-evident then.

Growing with customers
Customers had technological needs, such as the transition from Belgian francs to euros. That is why they came to us. And when we were at the customer’s site, soaking up the atmosphere, we were able to identify and solve their problems. We also grew as a company with our customers.
We never made hard sales. Once there is trust, the questions come naturally. A mistake that is often made in the software world is to think that a solution must be ‘finished’. That is not the case. Software must adapt over the years. Writing software is an ongoing quest. And it works well when the customer is sitting next to you, then you notice where he gets stuck.
Within Lesterius there are of course people with different profiles, one more technically oriented, the other more project oriented. For Koen and Glenn the switch from ‘technician’ to ‘consultant’ went smoothly. Glenn: ‘You just roll into it. You solve a problem, and then they ask you to solve another one. I’m right at home with my customers. I know my customers better than my colleagues, my customers are my closest colleagues. Koen: ‘I have more teams outside than inside Lesterius. It is an exciting variety. Besides, the solution to a problem is not always additional software.
This way of working of course requires from a customer a different attitude than towards ‘plug and play’ software. It is a very good exercise to have to explain your workflow to an outsider. It helps you get to know and understand it better yourself. By taking a step back, the customer sees the need for change. As an outsider, we then have an advantage. Moreover, we come into contact with everyone in a company. As a result, we sometimes even have the most knowledge of all.
The system of searching for solutions together, of ‘co-creation’, requires efforts from the customer. The rule of thumb is that the customer has to put twice as much time in the project as Lesterius puts in. To question everyone, to test, … Therefore, the customer must be given sufficient space to interpret his part.

Claris Community
Especially in the ICT world, 20 years of loyalty to the same company is rather exceptional. Glenn and Koen give two explanations: variety and impact. Variety because, as a consultant, you work for the most diverse customers, and you can take the experiences of one customer to another. Impact because you see the concrete consequences of your work, the projects lead to visible results.
Koen and Glenn have changed and grown together with Lesterius. Technology keeps changing, more becomes possible, and it also becomes more complex. Therefore it is important to be able to fall back on a broad base and competent colleagues.
The main difference between a software company and Lesterius is that they make software, where we look for a solution. I have seen enough ‘applications’ that are technologically great, but offer no real solution.

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Gütendag, wir sind Lesterius.

(Denne artikkelen er foreløpig bare tilgjengelig på engelsk)

We are excited to announce one more dot on the Lesterius map!
In fact, since April this year, we are proud to count Adrian Nier as a new Lesterius Partner. Adrian will join and represent Lesterius in Germany, based out of Nürnberg, Bavaria.

Adrian combines a vast technical knowledge with a pragmatic and analytical eye. Plus, he’s a Apple man…

“In my eyes Apple products reflect a quality that amazes and inspires me every day. I also live this carefulness, determination and sustainability as a developer and human being. Since 2001, I have been crafting solutions for companies and private clients that make Apple’s devices a beloved tool and complex tasks a pure pleasure.”

Adrian and the entire Lesterius team are looking forward to meeting you in Nurnberg once the current COVID restrictions allow so.

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End of an Era

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Koen Van Hulle
Slutten på en æra...

(Denne artikkelen er foreløpig bare tilgjengelig på engelsk)

It was way back in 2007 when I saw the first glimpse of an early version of Clip Manager. Until today it is a tradition at Lesterius to have regular full day meetings with the whole team to share the latest news, techniques and trends.

It was during one of these meetings that a simple tool was demonstrated which could save the clipboard of tables, fields, scripts, script steps and layout objects. It could even store custom functions, that were scrapped from the FileMaker interface. At the time, you could not copy and paste custom functions into FileMaker. A few months later we shared it with the community.

The goal from the beginning was a search for the holy grail: reusable code and modules in FileMaker.

I joined the Clip Manager development team in 2008 to help rebuild the solution in Xojo, a cross-platform development environment. With the new design, based on iTunes, we wanted to make it easier to add reusable code to our FileMaker solutions. Over the years, we introduced new features such as search and replace, a clip analysis tool, occurrence selector, quick access to snippets, … Our baby grew into an adult with over 55000 lines of code, 450 classes and 4550 methods.

In our challenges to ease the way of building solutions in FileMaker, we experimented with new features that never made it to production:

  • Live sharing clips over the LAN via Bonjour with your colleagues
  • A pallet that analyses a layout, script or function live in FileMaker Pro
  • A visual theme builder/manager
  • Templates with placeholders: e.g. adding a new table into your solution with pre-filled fields
  • Code blocks: a way to automatically add a combination of tables, fields, custom functions and layouts to add new modules to your solution
  • And much more

The best part of building Clip Manager, is dreaming about all the possibilities that suddenly become possible.  The feedback and dreams of our users were also a great motivator to keep improving and extending the tool.

However I couldn’t help thinking “it would be nice if all this could be done within FileMaker.”

Over the years the FileMaker platform has changed and some of our dreams have come true. It started with a customizable template for new tables, all new clipboard formats in an open format, the field picker, the objects panel, the data migration tool …

During the pre-release versions of FileMaker and the new open communication of the Claris product management team, we could see a glimpse of the future: taking away the difficulties of a FileMaker developer, whether he is a no-code, low-code or pro-code developer. And we liked what we saw.

 

As the icing on the cake, Claris introduced add-ons to the FileMaker platform last year. With add-ons you can add small reusable code or complete modules to your solution with just a few clicks. And the best of all, you can easily create these add-ons yourself.

This feature ticks most of the boxes of what we and many of our customers dreamed of.

This left me with a big dilemma: continue to build on Clip Manager and make the full switch to the new ARM chip set, or put my energy into all the new possibilities that Claris offers us today.

My heart and passion lie first and foremost with the Claris platform. So the choice was quickly made.

So in that sense, the choice was an easy one.

I personally would like to thank all ClipManager users for the great feedback, inspiration and criticism we received. This was the great motivator for me to continue all these years.

The end of an era. The start of a new journey.

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(Denne artikkelen er foreløpig bare tilgjengelig på engelsk)

Our “Employee Spotlight” blog series places the spotlight on Lesterius employees who tell us about why they decided to join Lesterius and what they do here. At Lesterius, we want employees to look back at their time here and say they did the work of their life at Lesterius. This week we sat down with Adrian Pellus to learn more about his career.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? About Adrian Pellus Quesada when he is not working.
I like to spend time with my family. If I need some headspace, we take short family trips together. We like to go hiking or visit museums and feed our curiosity. Being a curious person, that’s vital to me.

How did you become interested in this field and what do you find unique in your professional field?
At first I only saw a job opportunity because FileMaker is a technology to develop applications like any other (or at least that’s what I thought) but as I got deeper into the development of solutions with FileMaker I could see the versatility and scalability that it offered me allowing me to do very fast work in an intuitive way. And have fun along the way! The flexibility that the Claris platform brings is something I have never seen in any other technology. It allows me and my team to create simple solutions to complex problems in the most creative way!

What jobs and experiences have led you to your current position?
I have created and supported so many solutions and businesses, hard to keep track. From small applications for a freelancer who was selling bread in his van and could manage his sales and customers to large enterprise-level applications such as a franchise of museums around the world that could control their sales, online shopping, logistics, etc. All the projects I have worked on have made me acquire both broad and specific experiences and these have always helped me to solve problems in the following projects. This yearlong experience together with my strong desire to make an impact have led me to join Lesterius.

What the best part of working with Lesterius?
I am obsessed with tweaking and optimising applications. Out of necessity, I had to make applications where optimisation was key to the success of the program because it handled large amounts of data. Implementing unconventional optimisations to increase the overall performance is what I love.

How do you and your team prepare for a new project?
Every new project is a challenge not only at the development level but also at the organisational level. Before tackling a new project, our team meets to explain the objectives of the project, then we carefully analyse each point of the project and assign the most suitable person to solve each point. These meetings and workshops also help us to detect any lack of information or any inconsistency in the project in order to anticipate any problem, which sometimes even helps us to propose improvements to the client based on our experiences and thus be able to provide a better service with the highest quality and speed.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?
Life will throw you some challenges and obstacles. Persist, learn and listen. Doing this will help you grow as a person.

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Gent i Belgia | 27. februar 2020

Lesterius blir en viktig aktør i FileMaker-baserte løsninger for bedrifter

I dag går Lesterius og Atatiki, to store IT-selskaper, sammen. Den nye gruppen blir den største europeiske partneren som leverer løsninger for selskaper, basert på Claris FileMaker-teknologi, den ledende innovasjonsplattformen for arbeidsplasser. Det nye Lesterius har nå datterselskaper i 8 europeiske land (Belgia, Frankrike, Nederland, Norge, Portugal, Spania, Sverige og Storbritannia).

Lesterius har en historie som strekker seg mer enn 20 år tilbake og er Platinum Partner med Claris, selskapet som skapte FileMaker-plattformen. Lesterius er et team av kreative konsulenter innen IT, som hjelper bedrifter i deres digitale reise ved å skapte FileMaker-baserte løsninger i fellesskap. Vi optimaliserer forretningsprosesser sammen med kundene, med IT-løsninger som svarer direkte på de spesifikke behovene til brukerne og som enkelt kan implementeres. Dessuten tilbyr Lesterius opplæring og vertstjenester relatert til alle aspekter av FileMaker.

Kombinasjonen av Lesterius og Atatiki skaper en av de største designerne av FileMaker-baserte løsninger i verden. Hvorfor er dette bra for kundene våre? «Behovet for løsningene våre vokser raskt. Markedet endrer seg også i et tempo som aldri er blitt sett før. Derfor er det nødvendig med et større og sterkere selskap for alltid å kunne tilby den beste kunnskapen innen digital transformasjon. Lesterius kan nå støtte et bredt spekter av selskaper som ønsker høyere effektivitet og konkurranseevne, sier Olivier Devriese, salgs- og markedssjef i Lesterius.

Det er logisk at Lesterius og Atatiki har valgt å slå seg sammen. Begge er eksperter på FileMaker-baserte løsninger, og er til stede i forskjellige land. Vi kan nå tilby tjenester over hele Europa, med over femti spesialiserte konsulenter, som er broen mellom kundenes behov og de beste teknologiske mulighetene. Dette er det vi mener med samskaping: Konsulentene våre samarbeider med klienten for å sikre at løsningene våre er tilpasset formålet.

Journalister kan be om mer informasjon fra:
Frank Steyaert, adm. dir.,
Olivier Devriese, salgs- og markedssjef.

For mer informasjon om Lesterius, vennligst besøk vår hjemmeside www.lesterius.com
Also www.claris.com

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