My first Dreamforce

Joris
10 minutes reading time

“I was not sure about Salesforce but after these couple of days… damn.”

That’s quoting a homeless man who had been working as a “guard” at Dreamforce which says a lot about Salesforce as a company, in my opinion. About 9 months ago, when I started with Salesforce, I had no idea of what I was thrown into. This is definitely not your average IT/Software/Cloud company. It’s much more than that. And that is the main thing that I took from Dreamforce, the biggest IT/Software conference in the world.

So… Dreamforce? Dreamforce is a yearly event from Salesforce where they make their big announcements, and next to that it includes over 1600 sessions, several learning booths, a true festival (with the Foo Fighters this year!), possibilities to get certified, to summarize it in their words: it’s #awesome.

 


The Salesforce mascotte, called SaaSy

After only been working with Salesforce for 9 months, I already got the great opportunity to go there and check it out myself. My personal drive was of course gaining more knowledge about Salesforce and it all it embodies in general, but more specifically it was focused on becoming a better developer, learning Apex (Salesforce programming language) best practices and patterns, as well as learning to work with the new Salesforce UX (more about that later).

And as mentioned before, it was BIGGER, MORE AWESOME, and GREATER than I ever dared to dream. I got such more out of this experience: of course the developing part, but also volunteering and giving back, as cheesy as it may sound. This was hopefully not a once in a lifetime opportunity, but if so, it sure did leave a big impression on my view on Salesforce or at least on some of the people behind it and next to and the great community around it.

What do I take from this: #DFGives

I learned alot this Dreamforce. Not only about Salesforce or programming skills, but even on how a corporate structure can mean a lot for not just employees but also to a city or even to the world. Dreamforce is more than just a conference. This is something I learned mostly the last few days. It is also giving back, it is a great team building, it is networking, learning new things even such as mindfulness, and how to run your business as your own life. In the end it might all be a real great marketing stunt, but it convinced me for sure.

Below you can find a short summary per feature that interested me the most.


Marc Benioff and Parker Harris (a.k.a. Lightning man) during the main Keynote.

Lightning and thunder in the mountains: a new App Cloud

 

Salesforce App Cloud, made up of six major compononts: Force, Heroku, Appexchange, Lightning, Thunder, Trailhead

So, back to business. Dreamforce 15, what’s the fuzz about? This year, Salesforce introduced an App Cloud, which embodies much more than the “old” Salesforce platform. The App Cloud is made up of six components, of which most underwent some major changes: Force, Heroku, Appexchange, Lightning, Thunder, and Trailhead.

As you can guess from the title of this section, Lightning and Thunder are the two newest and biggest additions this year. Next to this App Cloud, there were some other major announcements such as Salesforce IQ, and some verticals such as a Health Cloud. I’ll go into some more detail for some of these topics.

Heroku

Though I personally do not use Heroku, it looks great and easy to use. Heroku is a PaaS for building, deploying, and running modern web apps. Servers, deployment, scaling, … are all taken care of by the Platform and easily configurable. Check out this video for more information on Heroku. New this year for Heroku is the following:

Private spaces (configurable network) Selectable regions (global deployment options) Integrated identity (single sign-on) Heroku Docker (develop apps locally and then deploy them to Heroku)

I’m definitively going to try out Heroku to see what the possibilities are.

Lightning

There are multiple aspects to this topic. Not only has the whole layout been redesigned, also under the hood major changes have been completed. There is the Lightning UX, Lightning Out, the Components, the Framework, and the Lightning App Builder. In short, the main benefits of the new Lightning System are a more useful and better usable UI, better integrated apps, shorter development times and reusable components.

The new Lightning UI from Salesforce. On the desktop screen, we see the new Opportunity board, to drag and drop opportunities from one stage to another. The iPad shows the new Dashboard and the iPhone shows an activity timeline.

First off, the new Lightning Experience. Available from this month on, though with limited capabilities, this is the biggest change that Salesforce has ever done. The new UI looks and feels great, intuitive, … The inspiration comes from the Salesforce1 mobile app and its underlying Lightning Framework. Besides the new look and feel, there are several new features:

an activity timeline, which tells users what happened to the account and what needs to be done next a customizable dashboard, with the possibility to add more than three columns. Also featured with the new graphical design from Analytics which looks great. and perhaps one of the most showcased: the opportunity board. Here it is possible for a user to drag and drop an opportunity from one stage to another.

This all is built on the Lightning Framework, a complete new framework that was created back when Salesforce started with the Mobile App and has been improved to include the browser version as well now. And in order to make it possible for developers to create the same look and feel in their apps, the Lightning Design System was created which gives developers access to the complete UI library, CSS framework, and design guidelines. To give you an idea how detailed it is, it goes all the way to the margins between two lines, font sizes, where a picture can be best placed, nomation of classes, …

The Lightning Framework can be used to create an App outside of Salesforce, but also to create one in Salesforce called a Component. The great thing here is that a developer can create the Component and then give the admin accessibility to that Component in the App Builder in Salesforce. This way, the admin still has the flexibility to use that Component on any page he wants, placed on any position.

And finally, Lightning Out allows a developer to use this created Component in Visualforce Pages using the Aura Integration Service. More exciting however is that it also allows a developer to include oAuth authencitation flows and cross-domain external web container exposure support.

Most of this stuff will be available from Winter ’16 release on, however I don’t think a lot of customers will be using it already. This is a huge change from Salesforce and it will require a lot of time to completely implement this. Visualforce Pages, Apps, button URL hacks, … all this will have to be redesigned to have it working on the new Lightning Experience. So if we’re in it for the long haul, it will be best to start learning on how to work with and how to write Lightning Components.



Thunder

“Welcome to the internet of customers, because behind every one of these things, behind my BMW, or my watch… is a customer.”

These days, everything is connected to each other, called the Internet of Things. Huge amounts of data are being created, but not acted upon them. Salesforce Thunder is a real-time, massively scalable event processing engine. With this, Salesforce wants to make it possible for companies to collect data from customers, analyze it, and act upon it real-time. Thunder and the IoT Cloud (powered by Thunder) is about three main things:

Capturing massive data streams (gather data, events) Execute actions with intelligence (setup rules to act upon certain parameters) Create a 1-to-1 customer engagement (act upon the data proactively through any platform)

Of course Salesforce Shield plays a huge role here, to create the Trust and Security surrounding the platform.

Example: gather data from a gamer (for example Xbox) and setup rules to send him messages through the Xbox platform or through SMS for when the user has been inactive for some time, when the user has new friends playing the game, …

For more info check out http://www.salesforce.com/platform/products/thunder/.

Though not revelant for us, getting into the IoT era the IoT Cloud from Salesforce and thus Thunder, could become a huge player here.

Trailhead

One topic that’s been mentioned in almost every session and keynote is definitely Trailhead: “The fun and new way to learn Salesforce.”. Trailhead is the new gamified learning platform of Salesforce, where you can complete different modules and earn badges for each topic. Afterwards you can share those badges and so on. It’s been introduced already in the beginning of the year, but now really being put out there. Check it out on developer.salesforce.com/trailhead.

 

Trailhead: a fun and interactive way to learn Salesforce

Up your game

Dreamforce is not only about the big announcements, there are lots of hands on training sessions and other sessions where you can learn about what’s already there. For me personally, this was focused mainly on upgrading my developer skills. For this I went to sessions regarding JavaScript for Developers, the Simple Trigger Pattern, CSS Best Practices and the Lightning Design System, Writing Visualforce Using Reusable Patterns, Defensive Apex Programming, …

For more info on such session, please contact me personally.

Thanks again C-Clear Partners for this awesome experience!

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