Babyforce 2.0

I cannot take credit for the original idea, that honor goes to Brian Kwong, aka The Wizard. His version was born in a browser before Salesforce1 (S1) and Publisher Actions (did I get it right Shannon?) were introduced. So when my youngest was born, I built Babyforce 2.0 as way to pass the time during those late nights and amuse myself by building an app my wife could easily use to track diaper changes and baby wipes. Easy, right?

Actually, yes it is. That’s the beauty of S1, anyone can build an app, no code required! In my case I had several objectives:

  1. Had to be short and sweet – no way I’m getting Wifey to use this if it’s hard
  2. Had to include only the essentials – no need to get fancy
  3. Had to be measurable – how else would I justify my experiment?

After few minutes, Babyforce was mobile! Over the first month, my lovely wife amused me by participating in my little experiment. We collectively tracked 357 “transactions” and broke them down few different ways. I give you the BabyDash!

Salesforce DashboardHere a couple of screenshots in Salesforce1 including a couple reports and the Publisher Action used to track each change.

Salesforce1 Report View

Salesforce1 Publisher Action

It was a fun way to brush up on the functionality of Salesforce1 and did not take long to create. Safe Harbor, Brian is working on Toddlerforce 1.0. Stay tuned!

 

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Community MVP

Where do I begin? Before I get to the exciting news announced yesterday, let’s rewind about a month when someone I have a ton of respect for first approached me about becoming an MVP. I was immediately humbled that one of my peers wanted to nominate me. Especially, since this individual was an MVP already. That alone was an honor.

What is an MVP you ask?  For my friends and family who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s acknowledgment from my peers in my professional community who are Salesforce.com users and advocates that I am someone who is active and supportive of members in the community.  Here’s the official (and more detailed) Salesforce MVP definition.

Fast forward to April 10, 2013 when I woke up a little early to get my day started off on the right foot. Literally, I went for a run to kickstart my day. I tend to feel more energetic throughout the day which helps me avoid “hitting the wall” later on. Perhaps, those two cups of coffee might have added an unnecessary boost, but none of these things compare to the rush of energy I got when I received an email at 10:20am EST. This is when an email with the subject “Welcome to the Salesforce MVP Program!” flashed on my screen.

Holy expletive, Batman! is the first thought I had. My excitement could not, would not be contained. Immediately, I dialed the person who first nominated me. A couple of quick calls later, I was still stuck on the first paragraph, “Congratulations!” Words can’t explain how excited I am to be included in the latest crop of MVP’s. This program wouldn’t exist without the community, to whom I am grateful for the opportunity interact with, share with and learn from. Doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or grizzled veteran in the Salesforce ecosystem, do not underestimate the power of the community!

Get involved like I did and now I’m an MVP because of it. I started a new Force.com Developer Group in my area to compliment the general user group. I’m happy to say that our first formal event will be hosting a joint Hackathon on April 27th during the upcoming (global) Mobile Developer Week with the larger user groups from Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. Get on the Answers boards to help and learn from each other. There’s always something to discuss on Twitter where I get much of news from, especially the latest and greatest from this community. These are just a few examples of how I got involved and it’s these type of activities that contributed to being named an MVP. Sharing is Caring! For my own part, I will put my best foot forward (the same way I started my early morning run) to make the community as proud as I feel right now. Absolutely humbled, but proud nonetheless! It’s still sinking in as I write these words. It is my privilege to say thank you, I won’t let you down!!

Get to know the Platform

Hands-on WorkshopThis past week I went to an all day platform workshop. One whole day dedicated to developing apps, Visualforce, Apex and more! If Salesforce comes to your town with it’s FREE day of learning, it’s worth going. Whether you’re just getting started, interested in something new or even looking to get more advanced, chances are you will find it here. Keep an eye on the developerforce calendar to find out what’s going on in your community. You will find both online and in-person events on their calendar.

Start Here banner

My workshop started with declarative (button-click) application building and went deeper into custom territory as the day went on. Our instructors were knowledgeable and took the time to answer every question thrown their way. I was most excited about moving beyond the standard point and click functionality, not because that’s the end all be all of developing a platform, but is great to see how a mix of standard and custom dev can coexist and compliment each other. Best part of all, every exercise was an extension of the last. This way, you will see how the building blocks fit together. At the end of the day you will leave with more than you came in with. More knowledge, bigger community and platform starter kit (aka box o’ goodies).

If you can’t wait for an event to come by and you’re ready to jump right in, then register a free developer account and get cracking with any of these workbooks! I got my dev certification mainly by focusing on the workbooks and this book on fundamentals, both available online for FREE! While you’re at it, bookmark these cheat sheets for reference. Happy coding!

Salesforce Certification – Where do I start?

So you use Salesforce and you want to “cert up” aka get certified, but where do you start? For starters, it doesn’t hurt to bookmark the Salesforce Certification page. Once there you will notice there are four tracks to follow.

Since the purpose of this post is to help those starting their journey towards certification, I will focus on the first two options only. The Administrator and Developer tracks are both starting points while the last two are for advanced users. Certifying as an Administrator requires you to understand the idealistic way to leverage the the core functionality of this powerful CRM application. The ADM 201 exam is the gateway and prerequisite to obtaining additional certifications that fall under the Implementation Experts track that specialize in two different areas, Sales & Service Clouds respectively (see Implementation Experts for more details). There are many community resources out there to help you study in addition to official offerings. Here are a few of them to help you prepare for ADM201

In my opinion, the Developers exam is more practical. If you’re a hands-on type of learner, then take advantage of the practice resources available to you. In the bullets below, are two main Developer workbooks that I used to prepare for the Developer exam. I was wisely told prior to starting down this path that if you “know the book, know the exam”. I started with Fundamentals and quickly followed that up with the skinnier Workbook. I strongly recommend you create an account on Developer Force and practice using these guides:

Here are a few community-based resources for DEV401

Choosing the best track for you will come down to your role and responsibilities. Another consideration is your learning style. For me, I learn best through hands-on experience. If this you and/or you don’t have much practical experience with Salesforce, then the Developer track is the way to go. As I mentioned above, there are two practice guides you can follow in your developer org. I felt great before, during and after passing developer exam because I completed both developer workbooks. If you need additional incentive, Salesforce has some swag for you just for building a simple app (details supplied at registration). A happy coincidence is that you get hands-on experience that is also relevant to Administrator track. Something that I benefited from as I recently added the Admin certification to my collection. Win-win situation! Here are more Salesforce resources to help you prepare for and maintain your skills:

Good luck with whichever certification you choose to tackle first!  Let me know in the comments if I missed a helpful resource the community would benefit from.