Episode 22: Trailhead Superbadges with Matheus Gonçalves
Today we are discussing Trailhead Superbadges with Technical Credential Developer at Salesforce, Matheus Gonçalves. He began his career as a Java developer and one fateful day at work, and he was ‘voluntold’ to learn Salesforce. Not long after he found and loved Trailhead, and now he gets to work on the creation of Superbadges. We talk about how Superbadges fit into the overall credentialing ecosystem and how you can leverage them to power up your career.
- Matheus’ introduction to Salesforce and later Trailhead
- Breaking down Trailhead: Projects, Trails, and Superbadges
- How Matheus and his team create Superbadges
- Superbadges test your real-world usage of your Salesforce skills
- Compared to units or projects, Superbadges operate on a whole different level
- Challenge checking Superbadges
- The link between Trailhead, Superbadges, and Web Assessors
- Matheus’ own podcasts, including the Toadcast
Matheus: Are you able to learn Salesforce? And back then Trailhead wasn’t a thing I had to learn from books from forums from Stack Exchange, things like that. And I said, Yeah, I think I can do it in there. We’re like, okay, so from now on, you are the Salesforce developer in the company
Josh: That is Matheus Gonclaves, a Technical Credential Developer at Salesforce for the Trailhead team. And there he was being somewhat voluntold to learn Salesforce during his career as a Java developer. And as he started picking up his Salesforce skills and experience, he also discovered one of our common problems, a trigger that wasn’t bulkified. It turned out to be his introduction to Trailhead,
Matheus: and people started to complain that hey, we have this process in we can only update one record at a time. Do you mind checking What’s happening here? And I noticed what was happening. Okay, this is so wrong. Let me try to fix that. But Before even touching it, do we have any good practices, any documentation on triggers? Do we have any I don’t know, trigger handler class out there or something like that. And I started to search for things online. And then I think someone sent me a link. Whoa, someone sent me a link saying, Hey, this is Trailhead is a free platform where you can learn for free, and it’s from Salesforce directly. And there’s a bunch of great content here. And I was like, Oh, that’s awesome. And I think he was a few days prior to Dreamforce if I’m not mistaken, because I think Trailhead was introduced during Dreamforce. In it was love at first time, because I love video games, and I love learning and Trailhead. It’s kind of a mix of both things you learn, and there’s some gamification process in the middle of the press. It’s like you are leveling up your own character. Yeah, it was love first time.
Josh: Eventually Matheus gets offered the chance to work with two things. He really loves Salesforce technology and Trailhead, and by that time, we’ve added super badges into the basics of content. So Trailhead has units. It’s got trails, it’s got projects, it’s got super badges. So let’s break down what all of that really means.
Matheus: So a unit and a a project, that a unit is a way that we have at Salesforce to introduce you to a concept. So we talk about the concepts and we explain the details. And a project. It’s a, I don’t know, maybe in evolution from a unit because in a project, we introduce you with the concept of requirements. So you need to use what you learned in the project in the units to develop the project, but in a way that we take you by the hand and we give you all the details, all the step by step then you go to your org or playground, and you perform all that those steps learning in the middle of the process. But one thing that Trailhead noticed was that Well, there’s a learning philosophy that you only learn when you try to implement something without anyone taking you by the hand, and four super badges. I think that’s the biggest difference. We don’t provide you the details into step by step we don’t provide you with the instructions because super badges are meant to be credentials. Same way asset certification exams, credentials, super badges are credentials. So we expect you to use everything that you learn from projects and units, where we provided you all the details and best practices and instructions. But you need to apply that in a different scenario with different requirements in you need to go ahead and develop the solution. So it’s a way for you to showcase your mastery showcase how much you learn, and it’s definitely the secret sauce of Trailhead.
Josh: So let’s talk about that scenario. Because it’s definitely core to the concept of a super badge when you’re gonna start designing a super badge. What’s the process behind defining that scenario?
Matheus: Wow, a little bit of behind scenes here. So we have a internal process to create services. In is the same process very similar process that we use to create super batches, which is usually we invite experts, let’s say apex, we gather a group of amazing Apex developers. And we sit down and start to ask them some questions. So let’s add to this list a bunch of stuff that you think it’s a minimally qualified candidate, which is a concept that we use for people that it comes up describe the person that it’s available to pass that super badge to achieve the super badge, the minimum requirements, so the minimum skills and we use this concept in using this concept we asked them say, so for this person, this persona, what kind of skills this person must have, what concepts from Apex using this example, what concepts of Apex this person must know. And using all this data, then we jump into another process which is okay, from this list of things that this person must know. But what’s the criticality, which one is priority? And using all of that, then we sit down and say, okay, there is a bunch of stuff that a Salesforce developer must know about.
Josh: And remember that super badges are designed to test your real world usage of your Salesforce skills. And so all of these requirements that are getting ticked off, well, they have to get wrapped into a solution based scenario.
Matheus: So we use this concepts that we gather with the experts to define what needs to be in the super badge. And once we have this package of requirements, then we start to create some scenarios around them. So some people think that super badges are created by – Let’s say someone just go and code something and then using the project you’re creating, they create the scenario around it. It’s actually the other way around. We start with all the requirements in skills that that person must have. And then from there, we create the scenario. Remember the motto keep Trailhead weird, because super badges can be very demanding. And it can be very taxing. But the team really wants to make sure that you don’t lose the fun. rewrite the scenario in the way that he has to be fun he has to be, you have to enjoy going through the whole thing and reading the requirements, he has to be something that when you read the requirements, you know what’s being tested. So there’s no catch that we don’t we’re not trying to be tricky or anything, we just want to test if you know that skill, he has to be done in a way that most of the time, there is the last possible solutions. Because what may happen is, let’s say we asked a trailblazer to do something in there are 10 different ways to meet that requirement. This is very hard for us in the background to check for all of those scenarios, all of those solutions. So we try to narrow down to one or two possible solutions. And then once we have the scenario, once we have the code or the structure, in some cases, a package in some cases, a special way work that they need to use. Like for Einstein for billing, we provide a special org to start that then we invite other experts to test it. And one of the things that we test is if that scenario is something nice to read, if they had fun, if it was something they enjoy to do over, it’s not like a metric, we don’t have a metric. So this has to be 60% fun. But it has to be fun. It’s something that we worry about. And it’s something that we add in the list. Among all the other skills that we’re testing.
Josh: Compared to units or projects, super badges really operate kind of on a whole different level. They’re a lot more complicated. They’re a lot more time consuming. And the Trailhead team uses performance metrics to really kind of make sure that that’s being balanced correctly.
Matheus: So we have some internal data that we check, using reports to check if someone I don’t know the number of trailblazers they are achieving versus the number of trailblazers that started to do that. per batch, how long they took to complete the super batch. Because let’s say someone is it took us during the test, it took us two hours to complete the super batch. And it’s taking them 30 minutes. There’s something wrong. So there are some red flags there. But yeah, we have some data to understand if something is way too easy or too hard. It’s very easy to understand if something is too hard, because we are going to receive a lot of emails and yeah, and but it’s good receiving feedback. And that’s another thing if you’re listening to this podcast, and you do super badges, please, if you see a pop up asking for feedback at the end of the super badge, please provide your feedback because we use that to make some tweaks make that super badge better for on their trailblazers. But not only that, we use those pieces of feedback to improve the future super badges as well. So we all benefit from it.
Josh: So outside of designing and developing the scenario itself. You’re also responsible for the technology and the code behind actually checking the super badge. Walk us through a little bit about what happens when somebody is actually clicking that check challenge button?
Matheus: Oh, that’s a good question. So it’s magic. (laughter) No it’s not, it’s technology. So for it depends on the kind of hands on challenge we are assessing. But in general, what happens is, we have to write some code for each one of those buttons. And when you click that button, you as a trailblazer, what we are doing on the background is we are connected to your playground, right? So we are going into your playground and we are validating the requirements against your org. Meaning let’s say we are asking you to add a few to a page layout. So on the background, we have code, requesting metadata from your org and then we are checking inside the metadata if that field was added to the page layout. Same for I don’t know some Apex class, we are querying your Apex classes using tooling API, metadata API, the same technology that you as a trailblazer as a Salesforce developer, you may use on your job. So we go to the org, we make those requests began the result, we analyze the result. And if it passes all the checks, then we go to the next we call it action. And for each one of those buttons, we may have, I don’t know, an infinite number of different checks. So that’s the reason why sometimes you click the button and you see an error message, then you go and fix it. And if you click the same button, now you’re seeing a different error message meaning we are checking for a different thing. Now, that’s how things works on a background. And we cannot just assume that the objects in there because once we query the data, this is going to blow up and show a very weird message to the Trailblazer. We don’t want that. That was something that I introduced when I joined the team, I created a document of best practice for us as technical developers to follow and one of the steps is if you are checking for data First, please check if the object in the dev org or playground, then check if the fields that you are querying, they are also there. So before even checking if the data that the Trailblazer is creating is correct or not, we are validating if the object exists if the field exists if the metadata is correct, and that there’s a slightly different way that we approach that when we compare error messages for regular modules in projects, to error messages in Super badges. And the reason is because again, supervisors are credentials, and we cannot give you the solution for projects in modules that they have hands on challenge we can straight forward say, so here’s the thing. There’s no this there’s this and that this, go ahead and fix it. For super badges. We need to be a little more careful to don’t review the solution. But we still need to make the error message helpful in to guide that Trailblazer to go ahead and find the right solution.
Josh: Okay, so we’ve said many times now that super badges are credentialing. So then, what is the link between Trailhead and super badges and web assessors? What web assessor’s role in what we’ve traditionally thought of as a certificate exam.
Josh: Yeah, that’s also a question that I heard from many trailblazers out there during Dreamforce and TrailheaDX. And we have a connection, we have some integration between the database we use for Super badges and the database or the system for we use for a web assessor. And the biggest reason is that, let’s say for a platform developer to which is one of the certifications we have, in order to achieve this certification, in order to get the certification, you need to pass the exam, the platform developer to exam and you need to achieve four different developer super badges. Once you have all of that then you receive your certificate. And in order to have this connection, we have to integrate both plants. forms. And with this mixture of projects, trail mixes and super badges and credentials, what’s good advice for having a perspective on approaching Trailhead in order to get credentials? My personal perspective here, because again, I am a trailblazer. I was the Salesforce developer. So my approach was always to go to the super badges first, because by doing the super badge by achieving that supervised learning in the middle of the process, and even if the super badges not at all related to this certification exam to certification, I’m trying to achieve let’s say platform developer, one, you don’t need a super bench to platform developer one certified. That’s not a requirement. But by achieving the apex especially super badge, this is helping me get prepared for the exam. And there’s a bunch of stuff you can do on Trailhead to get prepared for that we have a trail mix called prepare for platform developer one, we have a trail and that’s a new thing. I think it’s worth saying. We have a trail called study for the platform developer one exam. And we have something new like flashcards. That’s something new on Trailhead, and this trail is going to help you get more prepared for the exam but completing the answer to your question, always start with the super batch first because I learned about new concepts or I don’t know, practice, did those concepts. And when I go to the exam, I’m more prepared.
Josh: …and that’s our show. So head on over to Trailhead, find those trail mixes and the trails and get started on your credentialing journey. Now, before we go, whenever I have the chance, I do like to be able to give a shout out to other podcasts out there, including the Tituss who has a couple of side projects outside working with Trailhead.
Matheus: I have two podcasts, both of them are in Brazilian Portuguese, but I love them. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. One it’s about technology. So I write about technology in Brazil for a website called techno blog, Techno blog com.br Because it’s in Brazil, and we have a podcast called techno cast. And in this podcast we talk about technology in general, new things are happening right now. new releases, phones, TVs, even electric cars. Sometimes it can get a little conversation can go to a philosophical way sometimes. But we basically talk about technology in news in my personal podcast, which is Toadcast, Toadcast is a podcast where I talk about I have some friends, I received some guests to talk about, first, about immigration about how he’s living in the US or Canada, or in Europe living abroad. But I think the biggest part of the podcast is the questions we answered about science. So we receive questions from our audience, usually questions, they are interesting or funny, and we try to answer them in a very simple way but using scientific facts. So some examples like Why the human eye? Maybe colorful, or I don’t know why our planets round why different animals leave more in or leave less than the others, things like that. And we have five minutes to insert those questions. So sometimes is very, very hard. And the idea is to share scientific knowledge and he has to be fun. So it’s always a very crazy conversation. We laugh a lot, and we try to be informative and entertaining at the same time.
Josh: As always, we will have more information in our show notes including links to the relevant trails and trail mixes and Matheus’ other podcasts. Thank you for listening. If you want to learn more about this podcast, head on over to developer salesforce.com slash Podcast, where you can hear old episodes, transcripts, and also links to your favorite podcast service. Thanks again and I’ll talk to you next week.