September 30, 2011
The treasure chest that is the AppExchange. I’ve been holding this post on the back-burner for awhile, mostly because I was having trouble writing it. But something incredible happened this week that spurred me into finishing it. The AppExchange hit the million-mile mark – 1,000,000 installed AppExchange apps!
But what do apps mean for the Dabbing Developer? A lot actually. I’m about to let you in on one of the biggest secrets to learning code – borrowing it from others! When you just have the basics, it’s too daunting to try & code something completely from scratch. But taking a chunk of code that you know works, and tweaking it to solve your business problem is completely within your reach.
You might be asking, “OK, but still, what does this have to do with the AppExchange?” (Drumroll please…) Force.com Labs! These are the apps added to the AppExchange by Salesforce employees. They are free & plug in seamlessly to your org. And the best part is there is tons of great code in there that you can (for the most part) view and use. While some of their more popular offerings are their pre-built dashboards (which are also cool and very popular), there are some very slick apps out there that will provide some great code for you to read through.
As a place to get started, here are some of the apps that I’ve tried messing around with: Account News, Inline Account Hierarchy, and Milestones.
And if you want some of my overall app picks, check out my post on the Salesforce blog or my Dreamforce session on marketing apps.
September 23, 2011
Just two days out of summer, and here I am getting excited about Winter. Yes, the holidays are nice, but that’s not what I’m excited about. I’m talking about the Winter 12 release from Salesforce. For the first time in awhile, this release is jam-packed with some really neat stuff (and a few not so neat things). It would be impossible to cover the entire release with any detail, and I certainly don’t know enough about the developer stuff to get too excited about that either. Instead, I want to share some of the highlights (and lowlights) that I found while reading the release notes. Strap in!
In past releases, changes tend to be focused on the end user experience, but the Winter 12 release contains tons of huge goodies for all us devs and admins (I know you’ve missed it in these past weeks, so I’m bring back the bulleted lists!):
- First up – the scheme builder! It a drag-and-drop UI (although it’s read-only) that shows the objects, all their fields & the relationships between your objects. Pretty neat stuff, especially if you have a lot of custom objects floating around your org.
- Another huge one is permission sets. Think back to a time where you had to clone a profile just to give one user access to an object, or some system permission. No longer!! This can now be done using permission sets, on a user-by-user basis. The only downside to this is that I have now tasked myself with doing some profile cleanup work, and that’s going to be a pain – all for the greater good!
- One that seems small, but I know will be a huge time-saver is that reports now appear in recent items. Only issue here is that I have yet to see it work in either my pre-release or sandbox, so keeping my fingers crossed on this one.
- While on the subject of analytics, the reports tab will now be the home to managing all your reports AND dashboards. As an administrator, I think this is fantastic. Salesforce is calling this the Enhanced Reports Tab – not a stellar name. If you agree, my I suggest voting on this idea to rename it ‘Analytics’.
- Sticking with the analytics vein – they’ve also announced Dashboard Filters, which is the ability to include a drop-down filter on the dashboard. First use case that comes to mind is a manager drilling into each member of their team. I’m sure I’ll think of hundreds of ways that we use this functionality though. Pretty cool stuff.
- Changes are coming to Chatter too! Far too many to get too detailed on, but some of my favorites are private messages in Chatter & customers in private Chatter groups (goes directly to Benioff’s keynote on engagement!) Imagine the possibilities if you can collaborate in real-time with your customers on issues, deals or meetings.
- Another neat Chatter feature is that the standard hover details that we are used to seeing for CRM objects are coming to Chatter objects as well.
- One that the dabbling dev in me know is awesome – higher governor limits. Yippie!
So that was a bit rapid-fire, and I know that I didn’t cover even a fraction of what’s to come in the next few weeks. This release is jam-packed and I can’t wait for Winter!
UPDATE – I totally forgot to talk about the not-so-neat thing that I mentioned at the beginning of the post. Content Presentation Assembly has been discontinued! What a bummer.
September 16, 2011
Totally kidding. I’m talking about Keep It Simple Stupid, and I have to say that this is one of the best bits of advice – not just for customizing Salesforce, but for life in general. While this isn’t the place to delve into all that, I think this is an extremely important lesson to remember when thinking about modifying your Salesforce org. And to prove it to you, I’ve got a little story to share…
Once upon a time, a beautiful but quirky Salesforce enchantress was tasked with forcing opportunity creation every time a lead got converted. She thought to herself, “Gee…this seems pretty simple,” and set off to investigate a solution. But what she thought would be a simple afternoon’s adventure soon turned into a very difficult journey. She tried every trick in her magical powers – workflow rules, validation rules, approval processes – but nothing seemed to work. She decided that much more powerful ‘automagic’ needed to be used, and began looking at triggers or some custom visualforce. Eventually, she decided that whatever the solution was, it was beyond her skill set & called in the help of a more powerful wizard.
This more powerful wizard tried all the tricks in his book too – testing lots of different combinations of code. He even got very close to a solution. But very close wasn’t quite good enough for what the enchantress needed. One day, after trying another one of the powerful wizards methods out, the enchantress grew concerned and frustrated. She cried out, “Isn’t there any other way?!?” Just then, a knight but the name of Sir Nik was riding by & heard her plea. “Why yes dear, there is. Let’s me show you!” And with one simple validation rule (the syntax of which had just narrowly escaped our dear enchantress), Sir Nik had saved the day!
And the moral of the story? K.I.S.S. Sometimes the best solution is the most simple one of all, and just because the simple solution might be hard to find, that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
UPDATE — Nik posted the validation rule over on his blog!
September 9, 2011
What the difference a year makes (or not quite a year, as the case may be). The very first post on this blog was my Dreamforce Debrief last year, and now it’s time for me to do it all over again. To be honest, there was a ton to digest & I’m sure that there was plenty that I missed. With a conference of that size, there is no way to do and see everything. On top of that, there were tons of product announcements, and I’m going to cover those in a separate post (especially since a lot of it is coming in Winter ’12!!).
This year’s Dreamforce was all about Social, Mobile and Open. “Welcome to the Social Enterprise!” And yes, there are product offerings that play into this nicely, but for me, this year was more about direction than product. People and events, products and businesses — we’re all moving toward being more social, more mobile. We use Facebook & Twitter to communicate with brands, products and even celebrities that we like (or maybe even dislike). Now, more than even before, we are willing to share our opinions — Mark Zuckerberg got the whole world to “Like” things, which started the ball rolling on two-way engagement.
And now Marc Benioff and Salesforce have brought that conversation to the enterprise. The true message of Dreamforce was to get companies to understand that Twitter isn’t just a fad, and Facebook isn’t just for teenagers. Your customers are here & they are talking about you (and TO you), and be it good or bad, you better join the conversation.
To sum up Dreamforce ’11 in one word: ENGAGEMENT!
September 2, 2011
Sorry folks. I’m too busy learning & sharing ideas at Dreamforce, so there will be no new content this week.
I just want to say a huge thank you to all who came out to support me in my sessions at Dreamforce. I’m so thrilled that I got to meet some of you, and bummed I missed others. This community is really what makes this product so great & I truly appreciate the support of my readers.
Have a great holiday weekend (for those in the States), and we’ll resume our regular schedule next week!
Becka Presenting in Moving From Clicks to Code