So there is this little thing called Dreamforce that’s rolling into town Sept 18th-21st. You might have heard of it. The Developer Evangelism team has been locked up in a super-secret bat cave (aka 1 Market Street, San Francisco) the last couple of weeks finalizing the lineup of our developer sessions for this year’s Dreamforce. And what a lineup it is. Each year, the size and diversity of the Salesforce Platform development community grows exponentially and its always a challenge to program sessions that address the wide spectrum of interests that our developers have. This year, we’ve tried a couple of new things to address that wide spectrum of technology and product interests. We have sessions with different duration (30 mins and 60 mins), type (standard room breakouts as well as open-air Theater sessions in the main Developer Zone), speaker background (mix of internal Salesforce and Force.com Developer Community speakers) and of course technology/product (Apex, Visualforce, Heroku etc). In all, 200+ technical sessions over four days means that there is hopefully something for everyone.
With so many sessions to choose from, how does an attendee maximize their Dreamforce experience (other than attending the Red Hot Chile Peppers concert) by picking the right session lineup? To help with that challenge, here are a coupe of suggested ‘learning paths’ based on your experience level with the Platform and/or technology interests. But first, before we get to the learning paths and specific sessions, make sure you read Quinton’s excellent post on ways to maximize your Dreamforce experience. In that post, you’ll find some great tips on finding and reserving Developer sessions in the Dreamforce app via Agenda Builder (Hint: set the Role=Developers and Location=Moscone West filters), balancing sessions with other great conference activities and more.
And now on to the learning paths.
Note: Be sure to scroll down to see the session details after you click on any of the session links below. Also, all sessions referenced below will be presented on the 2nd floor of Moscone West (where the Developer Zone is).
Force.com Newbie Developer
If you’re a current developer getting your feet wet with Force.com, the following sessions should get you on your way to developing apps on the Platform.
- Introduction to Force.com: Tuesday 2:30pm – 3:30pm – This session will provide you with the broadest and highest level of overview of the Force.com Platform. A good place to start before you dive deeper into specific platform technologies like Apex and Visualforce.
- Apex as a Second Language: Wednesday: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – This “for developers, by developers” session introduces the Apex programming language and draws parallels to other languages like Java and .NET that you might be more familiar with.
- Introduction to Visualforce: Wednesday: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Start developing custom UI on the Force.com Platform with an introduction to our UI developement framework – Visualforce.
- Apex Nirvana – Embracing Governor Limits / Choosing the Right Integration Strategy for Force.com: Wednesday: 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM – For a Force.com newbie developer, one of the most important development concepts to understand (and embrace) is Apex Governor Limits. Alternatively, get started with your first Salesforce integration project by attending the other session.
- A Behind the Scenes Look at the Force.com Platform: Thursday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – Join Walter Macklem, CTO of the Force.com Platform for a look at the innards of the Platform. I personally love these ‘behind the scenes’ type sessions and as a fellow technologist (ok, ok -geek), I’m betting that you will too.
Point-and-click app Developer
You’re a Salesforce Administrator who can create reports, dashboards, list views and much more in your sleep. Take your point-and-click skills to the next level by attending these sessions and learn how to build custom business apps on the Force.com Platform, all without writing a single line of code.
- Understand Force.com in 60 Minutes or Less: Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Get started with a high-level lay of the Force.com land. This session will take you on a whirlwind tour of the Platform and highlight the various point-and-click (and some coding) tools at your disposal.
- Building Business Apps: Coding Optional: Tuesday: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – The title and abstract say it all.
- Visual Workflow Overview: Tuesday: 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Visual Workflow is a powerful point-and-click process modelling tool that lets you rapidly and easily automate complex business processes. Find out more about the tool in this session.
- Introduction to Apex Triggers: Wednesday: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Remember when I said you could enhance your app building skills ‘without writing a single line of code’? Well, I lied. It is sometimes necessary to use the power of the Apex programming language to implement custom business requirements. This session is targeted at developers and non-developers alike and with a gentle introduction to Apex, will help you write your first Apex Trigger.
- Five Developer Tips Every Admin Needs To Know: Thursday: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Need I say more?
- Workbench: The API Swiss Army Knife: Tuesday: 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM – Did you know about the free browser based tool that you can use to query, modify and migrate data and metadata in your Salesforce Org? Attend this session to find out more about this magical tool (aka Workbench).
You’ve been developing in Apex and Visualforce for a while and use the term ‘bulkify’ in polite company. Here are a couple of interesting sessions to challenge and simulate your mind.
- The 10-Year Evolution of Developers and Salesforce.com: Tuesday: 10:45 AM – 11:15 AM – In order to truly understand who you are, you need to know where you came from. My failed attempt at profundity notwithstanding, this session is a great way to vicariously live though the 10 year journey of the Force.com Platform.
- Apex Design Patterns / Apex Unit Testing in the Real World: Tuesday: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – If the term ‘Gang of Four’ means anything to you, attend the Design Patterns session (one of the most popular sessions from last year). Alternatively, you can attend Dan’s session to get a fascinating perspective on why there is an economic benefit to having good Apex test coverage.
- Advanced Application Lifecycle Management on Force.com: Tuesday: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM / Enterprise Source and Release Management using StratoSource : Wednesday: 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM – Any enterprise-scale Force.com project very quickly grows out of the single Sandbox–>Production development paradigm. These two sessions are among several that we have this year that address the challenge of managing the development lifecycle of large scale Force.com projects.
- Test Driven Development Fundamentals on Force.com: Tuesday: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – You’ve read the TDD articles. Now see how (and why) you can use TDD principles to develop on Force.com. Extra bonus – this session will feature references to the Big Lebowski movie.
- Creating and Using Visualforce Mobile Components: Wednesday: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Did you know about the open-source library of cross-platform HTML5 Visualforce components that run out-of-the-box on smartphones and tablets? No? That’s why we have this session this year.
- Performance Tuning for Visualforce and Apex: Wednesday: 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM – No further explanation required.
- Build the Internet of Things with Force.com / MavensMate: An Open Source Alternative to the Force.com IDE: Friday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM: You can never go wrong with the words ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘Force.com’ in the same sentence. Alternatively, if you develop on a Mac, you want to know about MavensMate – a Force.com plugin for TextMate and Submine Text.
- Code Talk sessions: We have four Code Talk sessions this year for various Platform topics like Apex and Visualforce. These are free-form Q&A sessions that are a great opportunity to ask the respective Product Managers and R&D engineers your most pressing Platform questions. Drop by and try and ‘Stump the Chumps’.
Current or future Mobile developer
We’re living in a mobile-first world and enterprises everywhere are having to adapt to that reality. If you represent one of those enterprises and would like to know more about developing mobile applications on the Force.com/Database.com platforms, here are a couple of suggestions for you.
- Understanding Native, Hybrid and Web Mobile Architectures: Wednesday: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Start your learning path with a high-level overview of the three basic mobile architecture options, the respective pros and cons of each approach and some demos of apps built using each of the three architectures.
- Introduction to the Salesforce Mobile SDK for iOS: Tuesday: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM / Introduction to the Salesforce Mobile SDK for Android: Wednesday: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM / Introduction to Visualforce for Mobile Devices: Thursday: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM / Developing Hybrid Apps with the Salesforce Mobile SDK: Tuesday: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Once you’ve picked a mobile architecture, you can get a deep dive into how to develop Native (iOS or Android), Web (using Visualforce) or Hybrid (basically Web++) mobile apps on the Platform. I hear that the speaker for the Hybrid session is pretty kickass.
- Native-like Apps with PhoneGap: Wednesday: 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM / Building Cross-platform Mobile Apps with Force.com and PhoneGap: Thursday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – If you’re interested in PhoneGap based hybrid apps in particular, these two sessions are highly recommended for an advanced look at building beautiful, intuitive mobile apps.
- How Xactly Built a Native iOS Application for Force.com: Wednesday: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM – There is nothing like a ‘from the trenches’ perspective on developing a production mobile app on the Force.com Platform.
- Security Best Practices for Mobile Development: Wednesday: 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM – Security is one of the top requirements that enterprise mobile apps have to address. This session will address that topic from the Force.com perspective.
- How We Built Touch – A Behind-The-Scenes Look: Thursday: 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – Want to know how we built the next generation HTML5 mobile app for Salesforce from scratch? Of course you do. Hence this session.