Friday, July 4, 2014

Salesforce Summer '14: Four Wins For Developers

One of the great things about working on the Salesforce1 platform is that there are three releases a year, and you can be sure your customers will be running the latest release because they don't get a choice! The upshot of this is developers never have to wait long for new features to come along, and even when they're smaller and incremental fixes, they're always worth their weight in gold. So here four features currently on the horizon that I'm particularly excited about.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Introducing Code Coverage: The Podcast for Developers

The ecosystem has always been well served by the community with innumerable blogs, articles and podcasts around to help others learn more about the platform. One hole that has been evident though is the lack of a podcast aimed at developers, so I'm proud to say that four weeks ago Steven Herod and myself launched Code Coverage, which is our humble attempt to begin filling that hole.

The Goal

In essence the plan is to produce content that's of interest to developers by talking to developers, both well known in the community and those who aren't so public, in a bid to learn what people are doing with the platform, what they love about it, and what tools they use. Since the scope of the platform is so large these days it seems like everybody has a different experience of working with it, and the number of different technologies available seems to increase on a daily basis. In short, we want people to tell their stories (with a healthy serving of technical detail), because we always find them interesting and we hope others will too.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Why The & Microsoft Partnership Excites Me

Generally I aim to stick to a fortnightly schedule on this blog, but from time to time breaking news dictates that I throw that structure out the window, and this is one of those occasions. and Microsoft have announced "a strategic partnership to create new solutions that connect’s customer relationship management (CRM) apps and platform to Microsoft Office and Windows so customers can be more productive".

Why I Care

I'm a Windows Phone user. People who meet me face to face tend to know this, because I can't help but mention how good I think is. I'm not a massive Microsoft fan and I use a Mac day to day because I prefer *nix environments and for the most part things just work, but I do have a Windows 8.1 hybrid machine and I find it enjoyable to use for the most part, a few quirks aside.

Windows Phone 8.1 (not to be confused with Windows 8.1) is, in my opinion, a top-class mobile operating system. I've always found iOS to be a bit too simplified for my liking, and personally I find the latest style changes to be horrendous. I used to use Android phones but switched to a Lumia 920 out of mere curiosity when I needed to get a new contract, and I fell for it straight away. I'm now on my second Lumia (the 1020) and I can't get enough of it; the camera is simply astonishing and if you're into photography I really don't know why you'd pick something else. I recently used it as my only camera on holiday in India (I left the DSLR at home) and was not disappointed.

Hand-held, low lighting conditions are not an issue with the Lumia 1020.

There seem to be plenty of people who write off Windows Phone without a second thought, usually spouting something along the lines of "it doesn't have any apps", and it drives me kind of crazy. I've got nearly all the apps I need, I use Evernote, Expensify and Spotify and many more on a regular basis.

Nearly All The Apps?

There has been one app missing from my phone, and that is Salesforce1. This is about to change.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Advanced Developer Certification Experience (501) - Boris Bachovski

Today's post is a guest post from Boris Bachovski (Twitter handle @Bachovski), a good friend of mine, an ex-colleague, and a great developer is a regular fixture at the Melbourne Developer User Group. Boris has recently run the gauntlet that is the Advanced Developer Certification, and given that developers are always on the look out for more information on the certification I thought it'd be great to get some further insight on the topic.

The Advanced Developer Certification (501)

I'm sure you've already read many blog posts at this stage regarding getting DEV501 certified, but according to the stats on other blogs it looks like that this kind of blog posts have the highest number of visits, which tells me that there is a lot of interest around it... Having said that, I decided to write up a post and share some thoughts based on my personal experience while going through the certification process itself.

At this point in time, I have completed and submitted all 3 parts of the exam and I am waiting on judges to evaluate it, score it and communicate through the results to me, which unfortunately takes a while (around 8 weeks since there is really a lot to be reviewed and the high demand of registered users).

Let's just quickly recap the components of the exam as a whole. There are 3 parts essentially:
  1. Multiple choice exam
  2. Programming assignment
  3. Essay

Friday, May 9, 2014

Visualforce Fun: Two Handy Tips

I've been doing a fair bit of Visualforce work recently and have been trying to leverage standard controllers as much as possible. To that end I came up with a neat way of dealing with multiple record creation, but I'll save that for another day so that I can flesh it out some more in the meantime. Right now however, I'd like to highlight two quirks that have tripped me up in the last week, and present a couple of work arounds.

Dependant Picklists, Child Without The Parent

Everybody's used these, and 99 times out of a hundred you're going to want the controlling field and the controlled (child) field on the page together, but in the particular scenario I was dealing with the parent field was to always have a fixed value, meaning it made no sense to display it. There was a requirement to have the child field on the page, and that can't be done without having the parent field there as well.

You have gathered from me saying "display it", but the work around here is to simply make the parent field invisible using a tiny CSS class.

<style type="text/css">
  display: none;

<!-- snip! -->

<apex:inputField value="{!obj.Parent_Field__c}" styleClass="hidden"/>

So not exactly rocket science, but useful nonetheless!

Making jQuery UI Play Nice

This cost me a couple of hours, and I still didn't find the time to investigate why the problem happens, though I suspect it's down to the order that scripts are included in a page. Basically if you have issues with jQuery UI with messages like "xyz is not a function", then check to see how you're including the source in your page. I was trying to use the UI dialog box, the source files were being loaded without problems, but some of the methods just weren't defined for some reason.

I was including the script using the standard tag (and using the same for jQuery itself):

<apex:includeScript value="//"/>

and eventually I tried swapping that out for a regular script tag, like so:

<script src="//"></script>

at which point, everything started working. Perhaps jQuery UI was binding to the '$' used by the platform (I was using noConflict() and that's supposed to flow through to jQuery UI) or perhaps it is to do with the way the files are included and in what order (I did always have UI second), but doing this worked. The odd part is that jQuery itself can be included either way without issue, it's only the UI library that seems to break down. If anybody has done more investigation into this I'd love to hear the results!

Friday, April 18, 2014

OzForce: Celebrating Australian Salesforce Innovation

Today's  post is a quick one as I'm in the middle of coding and slowly but surely trying to move this blog away from Blogger and onto Ghost... all fun and games but hopefully it won't take too much longer.

As I alluded to in a previous post, Australia has a thriving Salesforce community and is also a hotbed of innovation, with some incredibly powerful and comprehensive apps being built for the platform by local ISV partners. I feel privileged to be a part of this community and have made more than a few friends within it, so I'm proud to say I'll be presenting along side some super smart people at OzForce.

 OzForce - Sydney, May 1st, 2014.

What is OzForce?

I think this phrase from the OzForce website sums it up best, as an event which is: 

Bringing together a collection of Australian cloud applications 
developed on the Salesforce1 platform. A celebration of local innovation, 
thought leadership and community.

No less than eight local companies will be performing elevator pitches of their apps, followed by longer demonstrations in a break-out fashion with a dedicated room for each to go into more detail; my only complaint is that I won't be able to see the other demonstrations myself. I'm familiar with a few of the apps on show (we actually use Dashcord at S. P. Keasey) and would love to see all them in action. The companies taking part are sponsoring the event, so if you're a customer, and you're around Sydney on the May 1st then please come along to learn about some amazing apps and have a chat over a drink or two. 

There's more information available on the OzForce website which includes a registration form; be sure to register early to secure a spot!

Related Posts

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Two Points On Understanding StackExchange Culture

StackExchange sites tend to have two reputations. The first reputation is that they're the best place to go when you're stuck with something, because if the answer's not there already then you know you'll get a good once quickly. The other reputation is for being unfriendly (even tending towards hostile) with respect to newcomers; there's a question on Quora about it and StackExchange themselves even did some research into the friendliness of comments on their sites (read The Hunting of Snark by developer hero Joel Spolsky). This is my attempt to help explain why SE sites can give an impression of being unfriendly despite being filled with some amazing people. 

What Makes It Seem Unfriendly?

Generally (as the research SE performed) comments etc. are neutral in their voice and more are friendly than not, so it's not really a case of what's being said: it's what's being done. Oftentimes a newcomer's question will quickly be closed, or their answer deleted, and unless a useful comment is left (moderators are warned if a post is closed/deleted without comment) they might be left wondering why. In essence it comes down to rules.