Things We Learned Working with Salesforce in 2016
When Alex and I started Blue Canvas, we were excited to solve a problem for Salesforce developers. We both came from DevOps and developer tooling companies - Alex from Cloud 9 IDE, Jack from Sauce Labs. We both love tools that make developers more productive. We noticed a gap in the tooling Salesforce developers had at their disposal. Our experience working with other software platforms gave us confidence that we could help. We knew we would learn a lot, but we discovered more than we ever could have imagined during our first six months in business.
The Salesforce Community is Amazing
The most interesting thing we learned was that Salesforce’s most powerful asset is it’s community. There are so many who make up the community that it can be hard to know where to start.
Of course, there are the MVPs who so generously give their time blogging and podcasting about Force.com and how to best use it. We experienced MVP generosity first hand from so many.
I was in Amsterdam just a week or so after starting Blue Canvas and cold emailed Salesforce MVP Martijn Schwärzer. Not only was he willing to meet with me and talk about challenges with Force.com development, but he spent an entire afternoon with me, guiding me around Amsterdam and acting as tour guide. It was an amazing act of kindness that we began to see as common in the Salesforce community.
Another MVP who has been so generous to us is Alex Sutherland of CRM Science. He’s been a great source of feedback for us as we iterate on our product and has given us early feedback. And he doesn’t just do it for us. He is literally the king of the Salesforce IdeaExchange.
Salesforce MVPs Anup Jadhav and Adam Olshansky were both generous enough with their time to sit down with us and be interviewed on our blog, providing tons of wisdom and insight to the entire community.
And there were countless others who took the time to talk to us, give us feedback, invite us to meetups and encouragement along the way.
Beyond the Salesforce MVP community there have been so many other wonderful Force.com developers who have joined our beta and provided feedback. They are always full of positivity and patience and have so many great ideas that they share freely with us. We could not be more grateful. It’s almost overwhelming just how friendly, thoughtful, generous and fun our beta testers have been.
Salesforce employees have also been tremendously helpful. Tooling partner Product Manager Greg Wester is always kind enough to share ideas with us. And Dreamforce is an event like no other. We were amazed at how much passion people brought to the conference. People were there to learn, to network, and to have a great time.
There are really too many people to thank and acknowledge. The community is truly unique and incredible.
Force.com is a Powerful Platform
Just before Dreamforce, Alex caused a little splash with his provocatively titled analysis of the 2015 Stack Overflow Development Survey which asked Is Salesforce Really the Worst Development Platform? We knew Force.com was a great platform, but we also knew it’s tooling left something to be desired. Still, the more we have worked with Force.com, and the more we have been amazed at what a powerful platform it is and how it empowers developers to do amazing work. The more end users we link up with, the more amazing applications of the platform we see. Yes, Force.com has it’s frustrating elements - like not having a native source control system or faster deployment capabilities. But the tool is undeniably powerful.
Salesforce is listening to it’s developer community. Salesforce DX has a chance to make major improvements to the tooling and APIs that powers Salesforce.
Source Control and CI Are Important Topics
When we started Blue Canvas, we had a hunch that we were on to something. As we talked to hundreds of Salesforce developers this year, we learned that source control and CI are real topics that are frequently discussed. Improving the speed of deployments is something that users think about frequently. ISVs care about improving the deployment pipeline for their Salesforce powered apps. Enterprises care about finally having the ability to keep track of what has changed on their Orgs over time. All Salesforce developers want the ability to rollback. Continuous Integration and DevOps are not just buzzwords for Force.com developers. People see the business value to making their software development pipeline more efficient.
Salesforce is a Great Company
When you hear about something like the 1% Pledge, you think “this is a nice little idea”. But only when you start spending more time with Salesforce developers and employees do you realize that Salesforce really does a lot for it’s community and wants to make a positive impact on the world. Partnering with nonprofits like StrideForce is but one example of how Salesforce makes community outreach part of its business model.
We also learned Salesforce is all about having fun. Events like Dreamforce are a blast but so are regional events and meetups. Salesforce employees are passionate about building great products. And they are especially passionate about making their customers successful.
When You are Passionate, Work is More Fun
It’s something of a cliche, but you can’t really feel it’s power until you experience it first hand: when you are working on something you love and feel passionate about, work is a lot more fun. Alex and I love developers and developer tooling. One of our favorite feelings in the world is getting into an uninterrupted flow while coding. Something we hate is when developer tooling (or lack thereof) makes it difficult to remain in that state of flow. To work full time on a tool that makes people more productive and able to stay in flow is a great honor and joy. We are having more fun than we ever expected coming into work. A lot of that is because of the amazing developer community that Salesforce has.
We hope anyone who has their own aspirations to work on a passion project will go and do it in 2017.