Webinar FAQ: Introduction to Force.com

The following is the FAQ for the May 2012 Introduction to Force.com webinar presented by Adam Torman (@atorman) and Josh Kaplan (@joshsfdc).

The recording is now available at the webinar page.

Editions and Features

Q: Do these features come standard with all editions of salesforce.com?
A: The edition being shown here is the Enterprise Edtion. Edition comparison details are here: Edition Comparison Page.

Q: All this is in the "Spring 12" release, correct?
A: Every org is in Spring '12. You can't run a production org in a different edition. All customers will be migrated to Summer '12 in a few months.

Q: Do you have ROI benchmarks over traditional platforms/on premise apps?
A: Please see the following independent case study: Nucleus Research State Department Case Study.

What is Database.com? How is it different from Force.com?
A: Database.com is an edition and a license type that allows just API access to custom objects and fields. It is useful when you want the power or our user management and sharing capabilities, but do not need to use the more visual elements of the Force.com platform, like Visualforce.

Q: Will this webinar discuss cost at all?
A: Basic costs are available on our Web site - Edition Pricing. For more detailed pricing, give us a call at 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE – 1-800-667-6389, or click the contact form at salesforce.com.

Q: Is there a sandbox available to develop an app, and can you build out the entire app before being charged? In other words, is there an ability to test drive with full functionality?
A: Yes, you can get a free Developer org. At the end, you'll see links for that.

Q: Where can I find a list of third party tools?
A: Our Tools page and the AppExchange.

Workbooks and Samples

Q: Any chance of Josh and Adam creating a workbook with this app?
A: We're glad you liked our app and use case. We already have an existing series of workbooks that take you through the same basic features and more: Force.com Workbook.

Q: Can we get the sample webservice that has been used here?
A: Thanks for your question. You can download the Force.com Workbook for samples, and also find samples on the boards: Developer Boards.

Formulas and Fields

Q: By creating a relationship, does that allow you to report on fields from different objects?
A: Yes.

Q: Any advice for newbies on learning more about Excel-like formulas and HTML-like format code?
A: Check out: An Introduction to Formulas.

Q: I want to add an image and don't know how to do this. Can you show how images can be shown on the page layout?
A: You would create a formula field with the IMAGE() function and add that field to the page layout. Please see this guide: Image Formula Fields Customization Guide.

Q: How can I determine which standard object is inline editable or not?
A: We have info on which objects are inline editable in the Inline Editing Guide.

Q: The contact object doesn't have a name field. Can you explain why?
A: The contact object has a compound name field made up of "First Name" and "Last Name."

Q: Does every object have a unique ID and Name field?
A: Yes.


Q: Can I invoke external systems from Flow, like JMS, MQ, or ESB?
A: Flow can call Apex classes, and those classes can call Web Services.

Q: Does Flow support combining two screen inputs into a single field on the object record?
A: Yes, because few screens collect data, and then you do the data manipulation.

Schema Management

Q: Can the Schema Builder be used offline?
A: Everything happens in the cloud, so you must be connected.

Q: Is there a solution for building the schema offline and then uploading it?
A: Some customers have used SchemaSpy to build schemas for use offline: Schema Spy. You can also use the Force.com IDE to build the schema offline and then deploy it when you are connected again.

Q: How do we get to the Schema Builder again?
A: It is available in all editions. You can access it from the Setup menu under Customize.

Q: Which ORM (Object Relationship Management) software did you show?
A: That is the Schema Builder inside of salesforce.com.

Web Services and WSDL

Q: Can you recommend a good online resource for learning more about accessing Web Services and using the WSDL tool?
A: Here's a great article on the Force.com wiki: Apex Web Services and Callouts.

Apex, API, and Pages

Q: How can I dynamically edit page sections based on query strings or another method?
A: This can be done easily in Visualforce and Apex.

Q: Can I use query strings to query Visualforce data objects?
A: Yes. For more information: API Calls Query.

Q: Using these triggers, does this look like a good way to write data normalization rules: if State = "California," make it "CA?" Is this a normal use of Apex coding?
A: You could do that in Workflows or Apex to change the data, or Validation Rules to prevent the user from entering the information.

Q: With Visualforce, how can I render a page as PDF and also let users download an Excel file on same page?
A: <apex:page renderAs="pdf" >

Profile and Permissions

Q: Does changing the layout like you just did, change it for just your user, or all users?
A: Page layouts are assigned to profiles. Each user has a profile.

Q: Will granting "reporting" rights to the object allow all fields within the object to be available for a report?
A: Field Permissions is a granular access control that allows you to access fields. It's assigned through a user's profile or layered with their permission sets. It allows you to finely control the fields that a user can access on a layout, through search, in lists, in reports, through the API, or anywhere else in Force.com.

Migration and Deployment

Q: How can I copy one application from one organization to another organization?
A: There are many different options: Change Sets, Force.com Migration Tool, and Force.com IDE, Packaging, and Metadata API. Packaging allows you to install applications created in another organization. Change Sets allows you to migrate applications created in a sandbox to a production environment.

Q: How does the software development cycle work? How do I make tools in DEV, send to QA, and then release after appproval to PROD?
A: We have an entire application lifecycle management solution. For more detail, check out the Development Lifecycle Guide


Q: What feature protects our client data? For some applications, we might collect confidential information like SSN, credit card numbers, etc.
A: We have highly secure computing environments (ISO 27001, SAS70, PCI). At the database level, you have the option to encrypt fields of your choice. For more detailed information, check out: An Overview of Force.com Security


Q: Where can I get affordable Force.com training?
A: Free online training is available here: Online Training.


Q: What is this tool name that just showed for Site Builder?
A: Site.com

Recommended Learning Path

  1. Sign up for a FREE Developer Edition org.
  2. Complete the tutorials in the Force.com Workbook (~ four hours total).
  3. Complete the tutorials in the Force.com Fundamentals book (comprehensive).
  4. Read Jason Oullette's book, Development with the Force.com Platform: Building Business Applications in the Cloud.

Related Force.com Resources

Praise and Kind Words

Q: These guys are awesome. They need to do every webinar.
A: We Agree!!! Be sure to follow them on twitter at @atorman and @joshsfdc.