Today's blog post was written by Troy Oliveira, Principal Developer at Sonoma Partners.
After Dreamforce, I can’t wait for next year…
Having spent most of my life in the Midwest, I can be sure of a couple of things. One, I am always looking towards what is coming next (and used to being just a little discontent in the moment). In the summer, all we can think about is how hot and humid it is and that we cannot wait until it cools off.
In the winter, we complain endlessly about the cold and snow. Unfortunately, this is also a fact of life in how we view our daily work. I have always found the Salesforce platform to be feature rich and developer-friendly, but that doesn’t stop me from complaining about things like API limits and tools. Nor does it keep me from constantly looking for any hint of what is coming in the next release. Second, as an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs, I am very used to having to “wait 'til next year.” That is why I couldn't have been any more excited to go to Dreamforce and glimpse of what's coming in the upcoming releases.
Going into Dreamforce last week, I didn’t know what to expect. This was my first Dreamforce, and despite all of the suggestions and disclaimers from those who had attended Dreamforce several times, I still wanted to see it all. Obviously, this isn't possible. Especially when you approach the conference through the looking glass of a consultant. Every session holds a treasure chest of knowledge and could lead to the next big breakthrough for one of your customers. It is all at once exciting and daunting at the same time.
Welcome to Trailhead
Being a developer by trade, I wanted to maximize my time and soak in as much as I could. This led me into the Trailblazer Forest (the whole conference was National Parks themed). I found this to be a great place to ask questions and see what was new in the ecosphere of Salesforce development.
Before digging into a couple of very specific things that I found to be of most interest, I would be greatly remiss without discussing a couple odds and ends.
The Lightning Design System is destined be one of the most powerful and underrated platform features. There, I said it. While today it may seem very trivial and strike many people as just being a way to make their custom development “look” like Salesforce, it is much more than that. By using the SLDS, developers will automatically get access to the ever-changing look and feel that is the Lightning Experience. Talking with some of the SLDS folks, looking at things like extended brand customization (beyond primary/secondary colors!) and a dark theme (up-vote that Idea here), it is evident that the roll-your-own styles are a thing of the past, or at least should be.
The Salesforce development tooling game in the community is strong. At Sonoma, we are partial to using Illuminated Cloud, but tools like The Welkin Suite, Salesforce DX (which I’ll talk about more below), and a redesigned Force.com IDE are all pushing each other. When that happens, all Salesforce Developers benefit.
Bulk API v2
The Bulk API is being completely re-imagined. While we won’t be able to see the true benefits and how it all shapes up in Spring ’17, I find it incredibly encouraging to know that Salesforce has recognized some of the pain points.
Doubling the number of bulk job batches from 5K to 10K in Winter ’17 was a great step forward. But wait, there’s more. While increasing the batch limit is great, it still doesn’t help the scenario in which I need to use a small batch size in order to keep a job from taking too long to complete, but this will soon be a thing of the past. As they roll out v2 of the Bulk API, the focus will be on records, not batches, and we will be able to process up instead.
In Spring ’17 and beyond, look for ability to do bulk SOQL queries with relationships (no more manually correlating related data).
All of these improvements are going to make a huge impact on data migrations and large scale integrations.
Two words…Command-line Interface. Not enough? Okay, fine. Let’s talk.
Having tools like the Force.com IDE, Illuminated Cloud, and heck, even the Developer Console, are great tools, they are just that, tools. They’re built on top of the platform and require a human to interact with the tool to deploy the code to an already existing environment. Salesforce DX changes all of this.
What does this mean? First and foremost, it means that continuous integration just got a lot easier. No longer do we need to write our own tools to extract or push metadata, to run tests, or even the need to manually create data. This will all be able to be done via command-line scripting. That means that regardless of whether you have a full-blown continuous integration environment, or if you lean more towards a series of batch files, you can automate your development. This also means that you can use whatever development tools that you like to edit your Force.com code.
Not good enough? How about the ability to create new temporary orgs on the fly? That’s what you get with scratch orgs. Imagine being able to create a new org, push the latest metadata and code, run your unit tests, and then upload a full data set to be able to demo the new whiz-bang application you just built. Now imagine all of that being 100% automated with the push of a button. That’s why this is revolutionary.
Of course, Salesforce DX is definitely in the “coming soon” stage, but if you can’t tell, I am really excited.
Lightning Component Builder
Lighting Base Components will allow developers to take advantage of some of the same controls that Salesforce uses to build the UI (no more re-creating picklist or text field functionality), and the Lightning Data Service will reduce the need for custom APEX as well as allowing for much faster page loads by sharing cached data.
While this is all great and good, the upcoming Lightning Component Builder takes it a step further. At Sonoma Partners, we have a fantastic group of individuals to direct our user experience development and quite often they are able to give us the full HTML look and feel, meaning that the developer only needs to wire up the data to existing HTML and run with it.
Dreamforce was awesome. These are just snapshot of the great new things that are coming your way as a Salesforce customer and developer. I have made some pretty bold statements in this post. I stand by them.
This is some pretty revolutionary stuff, not because features like this are earth-shattering or have never been done before, but because all of these features make the job of extending the Force.com platform easier.
When the “how” becomes easier and less time consuming, you can turn more of your attention to “what,” and the “what” is the thing that makes each Salesforce.com implementation unique and powerful for your users.