The Benefits of Sending Your Developers to Dreamforce

Yes, it's that time of year again already... the period of all-out crazy as we run up to Dreamforce. With less than two months to go I sincerely hope that anybody reading this blog has already got their tickets, but if you haven't, or if you haven't bought them for your developers, then I want to highlight some of the reasons as to why it's all but optional.

Learning

It goes without saying but Dreamforce offers an incredible learning opportunity. Out of hundreds of sessions targeted at developers it is trival to find a multitude of sessions that are not only relevant to your role, but also pitched at your level of competence. The truly hard part is picking which to attend as once you get into the planning tool you'll find that your days fill up rapidly. Dreamforce is the number one place to learn about developing on the platform, and that counts for double when it comes to technologies that you may use with the platform but are not covered extensively by the standard training and documentation. If your team uses various Javascript frameworks for instance, you can guarantee that there'll be some experts on hand, leading sessions and making themselves available for general discussion.

Mixing

There is no other time or place that can match Dreamforce for networking opportunities. The Developer Zone is truly something to be hold and demonstrates that Salesforce (and their kick-ass developer evangelism team) really do understand developers; it is the perfect place to meet up with others from all over the globe, and that includes the people who build the platform that we build on. For anyone even remotely active in the online community it will be a practical impossibility to get through the week without meeting somebody that you've interacted with before arrival.

Networking is vital for developers. If, as a developer, you only ever interact with people in your own team then it's far too easy for you all to get locked into bad practices or bizarre development idioms. Meeting other developers from a diverse array of backgrounds means that from that point on you have someone else to reach out to when wondering best to go about solving a problem. I'm not talking about sharing IP, or company secrets, but all developers on the platform are fighting the same fight, and by working with each other we can all benefit.

Playing

Last but not least, software development is hard. I've noticed over the years that I tend to work it fits and starts, when I get involved in a complex problem I can spend a couple of days working through it but by the end I feel tired from thinking, and the next day there's a good chance that you'll find me doing 'softer' tasks (typically the things I need to do that aren't code).  Programming requires you to keep a whole lot of information and processes in your head at any one time, and it takes effort. To get the most out of developers it's vital to provide them with good tools and a good environment (no, a single 19" monitor and hand cramping keyboard does not cut it), and part of a good environment involves providing space and time to unwind and slow down to avoid burning out.


Randall Munroe sums up exactly how programming can feel with this particular xkcd strip.

Dreamforce may not be a place to slow down, as it's hard work and hard play in itself, but it's a different kind of work and I can guarantee that the buzz in your development teams after the event will be more than noticable.

Happy developers are productive developers, and the opposite holds true also, so send your Developers to Dreamforce: it's not an expense, but one of the best investments you can make.

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