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Salesforce: A Developers Perspective

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When an engineer is required to work on the Salesforce Platform, a typical reaction is a mixture of dread and confusion as to what Salesforce actually is.

Salesforce Development: When tasked with working on the Salesforce Platform, engineers often react with a mix of dread and confusion about what Salesforce truly entails. Historically, only SharePoint development has a worse reputation, as indicated by numerous Stack Overflow Surveys.

I have been working for a number of different clients on the platform since 2011 and witnessed firsthand how Salesforce has evolved over the years. I aim to show why Salesforce development can be agile, fast and even (whisper it) fun.

What is Salesforce?

From a product perspective, Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management solution that focuses on areas such as sales, support and marketing.  From a developer perspective, Salesforce is all about data.

You create the data structures in the back end, control access to who has access to and can modify that data, build out business logic and integrations, and ensure that end users can interpret the data correctly through UI views, reporting and analytics.  Obviously there are a lot more bells and whistles, but that’s the gist.

Revitalizing UI: Salesforce’s Lightning Response

One of the classic criticisms of Salesforce was that its UI was tired and stuck in the late 2000s.  The company responded by launching the Lightning Platform, an app-centric platform that provides typical business flows out-the-box while allowing for the possibility of heavy customization where necessary.

Development has switched from the traditional JSF model (Visualforce) that required multiple round trips to the server to a component-based, lightweight framework (Lightning) that has more in common with React and Angular.  And the recent launch of Lightning Web Components makes this even better.

Easy to code, difficult to code well

Salesforce does a great job at abstracting away some of the boilerplate that’s required in other applications.  For those who don’t have a coding background, they can get far just by using point-and-click tools.

If you are a Java developer, you can get things working in Apex right away.  Want direct access to the database from the business layer? You got it. Want to update permissions directly in the environment without worrying about pesky things like change management and version control?  No problem.

However, when the application starts to mature and feature requests build up, this lack of separation of concerns will come back to bite you.  Likewise, if you don’t pay attention to governor limits, what works in your sandbox can suddenly start failing in a production org with more data.  If you don’t get things right from the beginning, fixing it later requires far more time and resources.

I’m not slacking, my code’s compiling!”

Writing code and pushing it to an environment where you could actually see it working used to be a painful process.  I can acutely remember the days when you hit save and had to wait for ages while the Eclipse plugin compiled and pushed your code.  Even worse was when you were sharing an environment with other developers or admins and had to worry about conflicts or replicating those changes in version control.

That’s why SalesforceDX was such a massive improvement when it launched a couple of years ago.  For the first time, you had a CI-friendly, CLI-driven development process that could spin up an environment in seconds, push the code from source control, and run unit tests and UI tests to ensure you haven’t broken anything with your changes.  Unlocked packages are a great way to modularize your code and explicitly specify dependencies.

All in all, developing on the platform has been completely transformed for the better!  Now I just need to remember to fill out that survey…

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George Slater

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Vikas Krishan

Chief Digital Business Officer and Head of the EMEA region

Vikas (Vik) Krishan serves as the Chief Digital Business Officer and Head of the EMEA region for Altimetrik. He is responsible for leading and growing the company’s presence across new and existing client relationships within the region.

Vik is a seasoned executive and brings over 25 years of global experience in Financial Services, Digital, Management Consulting, Pre- and Post-deal services and large/ strategic transformational programmes, gained in a variety of senior global leadership roles at firms such as Globant, HCL, Wipro, Logica and EDS and started his career within Investment Banking. He has developed significant cross industry experience across a wide variety of verticals, with a particular focus on working with and advising the C-Suite of Financial Institutions, Private Equity firms and FinTech’s on strategy and growth, operational excellence, performance improvement and digital adoption.

He has served as the engagement lead on multiple global transactions to enable the orchestration of business, technology, and operational change to drive growth and client retention.

Vik, who is based in London, serves as a trustee for the Burma Star Memorial Fund, is a keen photographer and an avid sportsman.

Megan Farrell Herrmanns

Chief Digital Officer, US Central

Megan is a senior business executive with a passion for empowering customers to reach their highest potential. She has depth and breadth of experience working across large enterprise and commercial customers, and across technical and industry domains. With a track record of driving measurable results, she develops trusted relationships with client executives to drive organizational growth, unlock business value, and internalize the use of digital business as a differentiator.

At Altimetrik, Megan is responsible for expanding client relationships and developing new business opportunities in the US Central region. Her focus is on digital business and utilizing her experience to create high growth opportunities for clients. Moreover, she leads the company’s efforts in cultivating and enhancing our partnership with Salesforce, strategically positioning our business to capitalize on new business opportunities.

Prior to Altimetrik, Megan spent 10 years leading Customer Success at Salesforce, helping customers maximize the value of their investments across their technology stack. Prior to Salesforce, Megan spent over 15 years with Accenture, leading large transformational projects for enterprise customers.

Megan earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Marquette University. Beyond work, Megan enjoys playing sand volleyball, traveling, watching her kids soccer games, and is actively involved in a philanthropy (Advisory Council for Cradles to Crayons).

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