Force.com Development: 10 things that blew my mind in 2013, and what they mean for 2014

10 things that blew my mind in 2013 on the Salesforce.com platform

2013 was a great year for Force.com developers. Below are my top 10 reasons why 2013 rocked, and what they mean for the year ahead.

1) The Salesforce 1 Platform

What happened in 2013: Of course, no-one could talk about Salesforce in the past year without mentioning the all-in-one mobile ready Salesforce 1 Platform and App. When this was released at Dreamforce, I was amazed at how well executed the launch of the product was, overnight chatter mobile was magically transformed into the Salesforce 1 Mobile app.

What it means for 2014: Everything. A lot of development teams and businesses are changing their model to “mobile first”, so the quicker developers become familiar with the 1 platform, the better. In the coming year, Salesforce 1 will be enhanced with new features (safe harbour :p ) and become the first point of org contact for many users. I am really looking forward to getting stuck into building some cool mobile apps that combine the power of the Force.com platform with native mobile features.

Find out more here about the Salesforce 1 platform here.

2) Connected Devices

2013: The year “The internet of things” became “connected customers”. We were reminded that behind every device, sensor, and flashing LED is a person with a story. The Connected Devices Lab at Dreamforce was truly inspiring, giving developers a chance to build things that interact with more than a screen and keyboard. I would say that connected devices grew up this year, but I enjoyed playing the fruit piano in the CDL too much to back that up.

2014: I really feel that this year we will begin to see more emergence of practical connected systems. Up until now these systems have been largely conceptual / DIY. Expect more widespread adoption and innovation this year, with real world data directly driving systems and vice versa.

3) Elevation!!
2013: Throughout last year, Salesforce ran several ELEVATE free one day hands-on training events, designed to get people interested in the platform started, and also educating advanced developers on mobile app best practices. In November, Bristol held an ELEVATE event for the UK. I co-ran the beginner track training, and it was a fantastic experience. I was really impressed at how much the local development community embraced Salesforce as a platform, and quickly understood the key concepts and tools. It was great as an experienced Force.com dev to take a step back and appreciate the building blocks of the platform all over again.

2014: There already a number of Elevate events planned for this year, and with a new syllabus that includes the Salesforce 1 Platform, there should be something for everybody at these events. Watch this space, we could be coming to a city near you soon.

Find out more: Any upcoming Elevate event details will appear on the Developerforce calendar
4) Supercharged hackathons

2013: Last year, Salesforce hackathons hit the big time. The $1,000,000 hackathon offered developers with the opportunity to change their lives by building an application using Force.com. Mobile hack week in April, promoting the mobile capabilities of the platform, linked together the different user groups worldwide. Alongside the already popular mini-hacks, and product specific hacks, there was plenty of hacking to be had.

2014 : Expect a lot more competitions at Salesforce events, with massive participation, and suitably gargantuan prizes. At a guess I would also expect a couple of themed weeks for developer user groups. I am certainly going to be participating (and help run) some hacks this year.

Find out more about the Dreamforce hackathon here.
5) Salesforce devs embrace the Stack Exchange

2013: The Salesforce Stack Exchange is a question and answer community site for all things Force.com. The exchange has picked up a lot of momentum in the past 12 months, now boasting nearly 3500 active members. If you haven’t got an account, what are you waiting for? Sign up, sign in, and start asking and answering. The community are really quick to respond to questions, with quality answers.

2014: Even more adoption. More questions, more answers, and more badges being handed out to development community. I do also predict a slight move away from the Salesforce developer forums for developer queries, the Stack Exchange has a much more natural question and answer format.

Find out more – Salesforce Stack Exchange
6) There’s an API for that

2013: There are now 10x more APIs than there were previously available for the platform.

2014: This year there will  be many more apps that take advantage of these extra APIs, and alongside more advanced mobile integration, prepare for more development release/testing apps. The extra exposure the core elements of the platform now have will allow developers to apply greater control over their orgs and development environments.

Find out more: All the API definitions are available through the developer documentation section of developer.force.com.
7) Books and knowledge galore

2013: I was lucky enough to be asked to review two great books on the subject of Force.com development. The Salesforce CRM Admin Cookbook by Paul Goodey, which although aimed at administrators, has loads of great tips for developers too, and provided solutions to some of the common problems.

Keir Bowden’s Visualforce Development Cookbook is a book I would recommend to any Force.com developer, regardless of experience. If you have just developed your first app, or have been using the platform for 10 years, you will find some incredibly useful tips and advice.

2014: I am hopefully going to be reviewing some more books in the next 12 months. If you are in the process of writing or publishing a Force.com Development / Administration and would like a review, by all means add a comment below.

Find out more: Check out my review of the Salesforce CRM Admin Cookbook, and also have a look at the Visualforce Development Cookbook.
8) Getting certified is a journey

2013: From a personal perspective, A lot of my 2013 was centered around certification. I got my Force.com Administrator certification to go alongside my existing Force.com Developer and Force.com Advanced Developer certifications. But it wasn’t just my own certifications that were important, I made it my mission to guide others through the process. I was lucky enough to be part of a panel session at Dreamforce entitled “I passed the advanced developer certification”. I also helped 5 members of the Desynit team become certified by passing on my knowledge of the platform.

2014: Certification is always going to be important, it helps you to prove you know your Salesforce. This year, I will be helping to train more developers and administrators, and also publishing via blog/presentations my experiences of the certifications, and my recommendations to anyone undertaking an exam. Plus there is always that little matter of the Technical Architect.

Find out more here about Salesforce certification.
9) Command Line Interface tool

2013: The command line interface (CLI) tool was a major part of the developer keynote at this year’s Dreamforce. As the name suggests, it provides text command line access link to your salesforce org. You can manage objects and configuration, execute SOQL queries and even execute apex code right from a simple prompt. If you want to be able to configure an org quickly, this is the tool to use.

2014: I am really looking forward to getting hands on with the CLI tool this year. I can certainly see it being part of my org initialisation process for new projects, but that is just the start. Speed is the name of the game with the CLI, and I can really see it speeding up a lot of some of the slightly more long-winded configuration processes.

Find out more on github.
10) The developer console is gaining momentum

2013: This year the developer console became more than a nice side feature that could be used to develop Force.com code, it started to become the number one tool for developing through the web. The console moved much more towards a complete online fully fledged IDE, rather than just a tool for executing anonymous code and debugging.

2014: The developer console will continue to gain more and more traction. More features will be added throughout the year, and it will be faster. Don’t be surprised if some of the configuration and development tools start to be removed from the GUI and placed exclusively in the developer console. Of course there is still a major lean by developers to use desktop based editors such as Sublime and Eclipse, but as the console gains more features and speed, heads will definitely start to be turned.

Find out more here on Salesforce Help.

With all these innovations / new tools, 2014 is shaping up to be a great year for Force.com developers. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

What are you looking forward to this year? Add a comment below

Desynit-Feb-2016-22-Bristol
By Chris Lewis
16 January 2014
The Dev ZoneThe Good Systems Blog

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