Dreamforce 2016 is Upon Us

As I sit in my home office preparing to start the day, I can feel my mind wander towards what lies ahead for me in just a few short days. I’m reminded of the fact that I’ve been the three Dreamforce events in the past three years and how each has been a completely different experience. It has me looking forward to my fourth Dreamforce and wondering what is going to be different this year.

Lets review for those that don’t know me:

Dreamforce 2013 — I was very new to the platform, just six months in as developer and had met my goal of becoming certified before the event. It was all very new, but I hadn’t been “plugged in” long enough to know anything about what to expect. I was overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it all and like most newbies, I tried to do too much. My first impression, in all honest was: “I don’t get what the big deal is” but the electricity at Marc’s keynote was definitely palpable and when he introduced one of my all time favorite bands — Huey Lewis and the News — the stock of this whole thing went up a notch. While still not completely sold, I traveled home knowing that somehow I’d landed in the right place.

Dreamforce 2014 — shortly before Dreamforce 2014 I started getting plugged into the community. I started to become more and more active on twitter and interacting with the community and discovered a hash tag “ThatsWhySFDCAdminsDrink” and it inspired me to write a song about it. With a sigh of apprehension, I submitted it out to the world and it was met with positive excitement. A few short weeks before Dreamforce I received a phone call from Erica Kuhl asking me if I’d sing my song to open her keynote session. I’d never really done anything like that before on such a grand scale and stage and was scared absolutely sh*tless, but pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I accepted her request. I was thrust into the heart of the community. Opening Erica’s keynote would soon prove to be the catalyst for a life-changing experience. Adding to this already incredible experience, I wound up getting to hang out with my developer twin for most of that week and it was experience Dreamforce (and the community) with her that led me to write what has been my most visited blog entry: “It’s the Community Stupid” and I still believe every word whole-heartedly.

Dreamforce 2015 — in spring of 2015 I found myself invited to join the Salesforce MVP program. I had continued writing more Salesforce based songs, stepped up my blogging, started interacting more on the Success community, etc. I was getting involved. I was volunteering for time in the Admin zone, I was meeting more developers, interacting with anyone that I could — and you’ve all heard me say at one time or another that I am not a people person really but this community really brings it out. Here I was, on my third Dreamforce and my third completely unique Dreamforce experience. I got to open the Dreampark karaoke show with fellow MVP Sarah Deutsch where I played guitar and she sang a couple parodies I’d helped her write. I got to attend the MVP event, and met so many more awesome people that I could never replace in my life. It was here at Dreamforce 2015 that Apex & the Limits was officially formed. We got to play a number of songs for the MVP party and while they were actual covers and not parodies, (that part comes later), we found ourselves becoming fast friends. I also got to be part of the admin comedy hour and sang my “Stop Doing Sh*t In Production” song on that stage. I had a horrible case of Dreamforce flu and things didn’t go exactly as planned, but it was still an experience I’ll never forget.

Dreamforce 2016 — This year will be yet again an entirely new experience for me. I’m speaking on Wednesday at 8:30 in the morning about custom lightning components. I am NOT a public speaker, sure I’ll play guitar and sing, but speaking publicly, as a source of some sort of knowledge to a room full of very knowledgable folks is very intimidating for me. It’d be like me playing and singing before a group of Rock ‘n’ Roll legends — lets face it, I’m nervous as hell. Aside from speaking at Dreamforce this year, I will also be opening the Dreampark once again, this time with Apex & the Limits (and special guest stars) and we will be performing our parodies — something we’ve done before sure, but this time we are playing with live instruments! Seeing as how we are all from different parts of the country — and world — when you hear us at the Dreampark, will be the first time that we’ve actually heard ourselves all together in this manner. It’s been an adventure getting this far and in a few short days it will finally become a reality.

So what am I looking forward to most? Opening the Dreampark, speaking at my session — these are all very cool things and I am both humbled and honored to be selected for doing either. What I’m most excited about however is getting to spend time interacting with the community that I’ve become so passionate about. Hanging out with my band family, my fellow devs and admins, and all of the amazing people in this community. I used to be a wallflower and to some extent I still am. Its VERY hard for me to strike up conversations with people I’ve never met, even when we have something in common. If I’m honest, I’m selfishly hoping that I’m somewhat recognizable now and that other will initiate said conversations just to make it easier, maybe I will wear the cowboy hat the whole time? Anyway regardless of who initiates what, I hope to meet more people from this awesome community this year, so if you wanna meet up at some point, find me on Twitter (it’s where I’m most active)! And with that, my DF16 experience begin very early Sunday morning so I’ve got some resting to do!


Lightning, Are You Ready?

Salesforce.com’s new UI (and design paradigm) Lightning Experience (LEX for short), has been making impressions since it was announced. Admins & user’s alike have had over a year now to poke and prod at it with a stick. I even know of a few folks that claim to have LEX turned on in their production orgs for all users.

I get asked all the time, what’s it going to take for us to switch over to LEX in “our org?” And more often my response has been: “It’s not really a question of if you are ready for LEX but is LEX ready for you?”

I don’t say that to bash LEX in anyway — however I feel at times there are many that feel jaded by it. It’s not the most performant thing yet, and yes there are many items that now take more clicks than we as admins and users are used to. To those folks I say, consider this:

Regarding performance: We are asking a “page” to do so, so, so much more than a page has done in the past. I’ve been in IT for over 20 years. Its a vicious circle. There was the mainframe and dumb terminals, then it all moved to desktop apps, then over to client server (a rehash of dumb terminals, if you will), then onto more of a hybrid, then onto web applications, and now we are in the app world, and demanding more of our web experience to behave more like our apps. I daresay it will come around yet again in some evolution and we’ll be off the client and back to the dumb-terminal to server architecture at some point. For now however, we are in some sort of thick client like architecture where much of our heavy lifting happening behind our web pages is now happening in javascript, on our devices when it used to happen at the server and simply show us the results of said backend work. As consumers of technology we begin to demand more and more from what is available and while technology moves at the speed of light, our expectations seem to move even faster — and that is okay! THAT my friends is how things progress. The caveat here is, we need to be patient. It. Will. Get. Better.

Regarding more clicks: As a developer there are times when I think to myself: “How can users be any lazier? Complaining about an extra click or two? After all, data is king and having it organized and clean is worth the extra clicks.” It takes me awhile to snap out of that line of thinking and look at things from the perspective of a user. Our jobs get more and more demanding everyday. “Do more, with less, and do it faster!” so efficiency is king to a user. I get that. Here we are squaring off and being the service oriented people we are, we ease the end-user’s life even when it makes our life a bit more difficult. Eventually we come around and meet somewhere in the middle. This whole thing is a process, it will take time to get things to the point where performing tasks in LEX will be just as efficient in LEX as they are in classic. There are millions of us users, and we all have feedback and opinions, etc. It takes time to process all that collective feedback and jump the technical hurdles currently blocking the way to some of this efficiency, but it will come.

Overall, LEX is indeed not ready for most existing clients. Change is never easy and perhaps the hardest element to overcome is the human element. However, LEX WILL BE ready, perhaps not as fast as many would like, certainly not as fast as Salesforce.com would probably like — but its a paradigm shift.

It reminds me of my last “Corporate America” job 14 years ago. I had been a linux user since 1995. I loved it, was way more productive using that than using Windows. As a server architecture, particularly for web apps it just made much more sense to me. I made the mistake of preaching its virtue’s to my Microsoft embedded colleagues who never let me hear the end of it (ultimately why I was happy to leave that job — being a pilgrim in an unholy land took its toll on me). “Your toy operating system will never go anywhere, why waste time on such things” — a few short years later, linux in that environment was a constant. It took time for that to make its way, but it certainly made its way.

Rome wasn’t built in a day — LEX will be ready.