Can you feel it yet? It’s impossible to miss if you’re anywhere near 1 Market San Francisco, but even if you’re not, you can probably hear the faint yet ever louder rumbling in the background – it’s Dreamforce 2011! The numbers are pretty staggering – over 30,000 attendees and over 400 sessions (>90 Developer sessions alone). As an attendee trying to build a conference agenda, it is however easy to get a little lost and even intimidated with all this content. How do you dive deeper into technologies of specific interest to you (Apex, Database.com, Heroku, all of the above?) while still leaving some time for sessions that challenge your assumptions and expose you to new technologies and features (Node.js anyone? Play framework for Java?).
My friend Quinton has been trying to address this issue by highlighting some of the Developer sessions that you might otherwise overlook at Dreamforce 2011. Check out his posts here and here. I thought I would take a slightly different road to the same destination. I’m going to highlight some of the sessions that might be of interest to specific Developer ‘personas’ or profiles (George Lucas – your royalty check is in the mail). Depending on your own experience level and interests, pick a persona and see if you already have these sessions on your hit list. The personas that I picked mirror my own journey with Salesforce over the last three years and so here goes.
Note: Following Quinton’s lead, the session links below require a login to the public Dreamforce app.
Padawan (the newbie developer): If you’re a Java, .Net etc. developer who is new to Force.com, Heroku or Database.com (or a Salesforce.com Admin looking to get your feet wet with the programmatic side of the house), this section is for you.
- The best way to learn any technology is to gets hands-on with it. I would therefore recommend attending some of the Hands-On sessions at Dreamforce (look for session titles that start with ‘Hands-On’). There are ones for Visualforce, Apex, the SOAP and REST APIs and many more. Check them out.
- In addition to the Hands-On sessions, we also have other developer sessions that introduce you to Apex, Visualforce, Ruby etc. Some examples include Introduction to Programming with Force.com Code (Apex) and Introduction to Heroku and Creating Databases on Force.com.
- Finally, if you need to integrate with Salesforce.com and don’t know where to start, check out Integrating with Force.com. That session will give a great overview of all the integration options you have at your disposal and which option/API to pick based on your integration use case.
Jedi (the experienced developer) : You’ve been doing Apex/VF development for a while and know the current API version better than your wife’s birthday (shame on you for that btw). As you look to take your Force.com skills to the next level, do you have these sessions on your list?
- Mobile is the next frontier for enterprise apps. This is another example of how enterprise software is catching up with a trend that originally started in the consumer space (like how SAAS followed Amazon.com lead with e-commerce and how Chatter followed the path blazed by Facebook, Twitter etc.). We have several Mobile focused sessions at Dreamforce and so make sure you attend at least one of them. Conflict of interest notwithstanding (I’m one of the speakers), I would recommend the Developing Mobile Apps for Force.com and Database.com session if you want to get a broad lay-of-the-land for Force.com/DB.com mobile development. There are also specific sessions for iOS, Android and Hybrid mobile development that you should check out.
- Speaking of taking your Force.com skills to the next level, Apex Design Patterns and Best Practices and Blazing Fast Visualforce Pages should be on your list. In addition to learning some advanced patterns and techniques, these type of sessions are also a great place to network with other experienced Force.com developers and swap war stories.
- Now for some less obvious recommendations. Need to integrate Force.com with other Cloud providers like Azure, Google App Engine or Amazon Web Services? Check out Connect Your Clouds with Force.com. Heard of/used/passionately love Git, but not sure how it fits in with Force.com development? Check out Source Code Control in Force.com Using Git. And finally, wondering how Jigsaw and high-quality data in general can make your application better? Try Secret Sauce: Powering Your Apps with Jigsaw Data.
Obi Wan Kenobi: Mastered have you the Force.com/Heroku platform(s). You’re looking for the next ‘big thing’ – a cool new technology or feature that you may vaguely know of, but never had time to truly check out. These session titles speak for themselves and so I’ll just list some of the interesting sessions that I personally am looking forward to and hopefully Obi Wan Kenobi will join me for some of them. Introducing Play! Framework: Painless Java and Scala Web Applications, Using Node.js on Heroku and Opening the Door on Clojure.
And finally, my ‘finally’ block (pardon the geek humor). These sessions/activities are recommended for all attendees – participate in a Salesforce.com Foundation volunteer activity, hack your way through the Developer Hackathon and try out your best Alex Trebek impression at Cloud Trivia. No matter what sessions you end up attending though, I hope you have a informative, inspiring and fun Dreamforce. See ya’ll there!