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Monday, 31 August 2015

Dreamforce 15

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Brace Yourselves - Dreamforce is Coming

Dreamforce 15 is now just over two weeks away (or has already taken place if you are reading this after September 18th 2015).

A Different Experience #1

This year Dreamforce will be a rather different experience - my company, BrightGen, has a booth (#45) in the Customer Success Zone where we’ll be showcasing our BrightMedia appcelerator for Media Ad Sales. This is the first time since 2010 that I’ve had to man a stand at Dreamforce, which means that I can’t hang out in the Dev Zone as much as I usually would.

A Different Experience #2

I’m speaking, but not in the Dev Zone. Instead I’m giving a more business focused talk on how we are using Lightning Components in the BrightMedia mobile front end - Mobilize Your Media Ad Sales with Lightning Components. This is a 9am start on Wednesday 16th and takes place in the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel, Foothill E. While this is a business focused talk, I’ll be able happy to go into detail on the technical side either after the talk or at the booth. Hopefully I’ll see a few of my regular readers there.

A Different Experience #3

The Dev Zone this year is getting a hefty dose of Trailhead. I’ve had a hand in a Quick Start or two which will hopefully make the cut, so if you are working through those see if you can spot any written in my inimitable style. 

Some Things Don’t Change

The Developer Keynote starts at 10:30 on Thursday 17th in Moscone Centre West and there’s no way I’d miss it, so I’ll be leaving the booth to the tender mercies of the Sales team for the duration. I can’t wait to hear the announcements, although they’ll have to go some to top the performance of Trailhead from last year.

  

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Certified Salesforce Platform Developer

Certified Salesforce Platform Developer

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(As always with Certification blog posts, please don’t ask for answers or post actual questions in comments etc. Doing so breaches the test taker agreement and devalues the exam for everyone)

Introduction

As a Certified Salesforce Advanced Developer, I was offered the chance to participate in the Platform Developer II Certification in July 2015. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a cert, so I jumped at the chance. 

As is the case for every beta I’ve taken part in, the beta is double the length of the regular exam both in terms of questions (120) and duration (4 hours). The basic premise is that you get more time so that you can give feedback on every question, although the fact that there are twice as many questions means that you have to be keep a close eye on the clock. Personally I take the view that its only worth providing feedback for questions that stand out, for both positive and negative reasons - saying that a question is fine doesn’t really add much or help the certification team.

Preparation

The Study Guides from the Salesforce Certification site give chapter and verse on what you need to skill up on for the exam. I focused on the Visualforce, Apex and Lightning Developer’s Guides, plus a refresher on the latest versions of the metadata and SOAP API. I made sure that I knew the order of execution like the back of my hand and the usual Apex best practice suspects of bulkification, the various aspects of unit tests and asynchronous mechanisms. I also paid special attention to oauth and the mobile SDK. 

The Exam

As always, the exam is proctored, either in person on on-line - I chose the on-line variant as I prefer to do exams from home. For the first time, I had the proctor interrupt the exam to ask me to reposition my camera, which took a few attempts and consumed some time, taking me past the four hours in the end.

What struck me about this exam compared to the original Advanced Developer certification was that it felt like I was reading  less code and evaluating more scenarios based on descriptions. That said, I wouldn’t read too much into this as it could be that the questions I received in the original exam were not overly representative but just happened to skew towards code.

Four hours is a long time to maintain focus, and the bonus of a beta exam is that you don’t receive the results immediately. Instead you have to wait a month or so until all the results and feedback have been assessed and collated. Its also difficult to call, as you don’t know which questions will make the final cut, so questions you found easy to get right might not count, whereas those that you struggled with may count against you.

Results

Obviously I passed or I wouldn’t be drawing attention to the experience with this post! As an existing Advanced Developer, passing Platform Developer II also confers Platform Developer I, so my certs count increases by two. Unfortunately, having achieved the new certs means I have to relinquish my Advanced Developer credential, so the net effect is a increase of one, taking me up to 9 x certified. As the number of certs increases its getting harder to catch them all, especially with the new Marketer credentials.

Final Thoughts

Four hours and 120 questions requires a considerable amount of effort, and wonder how useful the final hour or so actually is to the Salesforce Certification team, both in terms of the feedback (most questions will feel tough by then, due to fatigue if nothing else) and performance (I’d expect more incorrect answers towards the end, again due to fatigue). A better way to run these betas might be to break them up into two exams of two hours/60 questions. Beta candidates would still be required to answer all 120 questions, but not in one solid block. I suggested this as part of my exam feedback, so maybe something will come of this. 

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Saturday, 8 August 2015

Trailhead - Bigger, Better, Badgier

Trailhead - Bigger, Better, Badgier

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Introduction

Trailhead has received a major injection of new content in the run up to Dreamforce, and now boasts 30 projects, 7 trails and 6 projects.

If you haven’t used Trailhead yet (Seriously? What have you been doing with your free time?), take a look at my intro blog post to cover the basics.

New Trails

A number of trails have received additional content, but there are also two brand new trails to get tackle:

  • Admin Trail - CRM
    Up until now the trails tended to be focused on customisation or development of the platform side of Salesforce, but that’s no longer the case. This trail introduces the concepts of Accounts, Contacts, Leads and Opportunities, and takes you through configuring sobjects, creating records, setting up a sales process and assigning and converting leads. These are all key skills for administering a Sales Cloud implementation, so if you are thinking of taking your career in that direction its an excellent starting point
  • Dreamforce Trail
    A short trail, comprised of a single module with 3 steps. If you are going to Dreamforce for the first time this year, get the heads up on the general experience and specifics for admins and developers. I’ll be there again this year, but in a change of pace I’ll be manning a stand in the customer success zone so I won’t be able to spend the whole week in the dev zone as I usually do.

New Badges

There are 5 new badges available - 4 across the two new trails covered above, and one for the new Event Monitoring module.

Event Monitoring

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This is a new module on the Intermediate Developer Trail, this is an example of why you should check back with Trailhead regularly - just because you completed a trail a couple of months ago doesn’t mean that’s still the case!

The Event Monitoring module is a shining example of another Trailhead benefit - it gets you working on aspects of the platform you might otherwise miss out on. The event log is something I’ve read about and answered questions on when maintaining certifications, but its not something that I’ve had reason to use up to now. This module not only gets into the details, but also has you working with the event log in your developer edition via the workbench.

Quick Starts and Projects

These aren’t new, but are something that I’ve only just picked up on. The quick starts are ideal if you want to get a rapid, hands on introduction to a particular area of the platform but you only have half an hour or so to spare. The projects require a more significant investment of time, and consist of a number of modules that layer on each other to build a full blown application.

Don’t Delay

There’s a lot of content on Trailhead already. and its only going to get bigger (and badgier!), so the sooner you get started the sooner you’ll have a plethora of badges to brag about on your social media channel of choice.

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