Salesforce World Tour 2015 Boston Recap

I attended the Salesforce World Tour in Boston on April 9, 2015. It was the first Salesforce roadshow of 2015, and my first "live" Salesforce event (after watching many hours on YouTube). This was one of the best free events I've ever attended. Considering I woke up at 4:15 am in an attempt to beat the traffic, it was well worth the drive down from Maine. Salesforce definitely knows how to run a show. Last year's Dreamforce in San Franscisco had over 150,000 attendees!

Keynote

The pre-keynote was already underway in the main theatre at the Hynes Convention Center and was being hosted by Salesforce's Peter Coffee when I arrived with my team. We had to be seated in the upper level by the time we arrived due to the theatre quickly filling to capacity. There were already some great stories being shared by local charities and nonprofits who were using Salesforce for their CRM platform. I was also introduced to Salesforce's 1-1-1 program. Salesforce also showed a very moving and timely video titled: "Thank You Indiana".

Shortly after, the Dropkick Murphys (!) came out to entertain the audience - their set included Tessie, and Shipping Off To Boston. A great way to start the morning. After that rockin' performance, we were settling in for product and process demonstrations.

Salesforce's Keith Block took center stage and had "one more special guest" to introduce...

TOM BRADY

I was in the same room as TOM. SUPERBOWLMVP. BRADY.

After getting over my excitement, I was able to settle down and listen to an almost 20 minute interview with Tom and Keith. Great lessons for everyone were shared - no matter if you're on the football field or with your own team. The Patriots mantra #DOYOURJOB still carries great meaning today. Tom also mentioned his recent 40 foot cliff dive!

After the Keynote - demonstrating everything from Wave (analytics) to the Service and Marketing Cloud - I made my way into the Cloud Expo and grabbed a quick lunch.

Developer Sessions

For most of the afternoon, I camped out at the Developer Theatre. Since I've only had a few month's worth of exposure to the Salesforce Admin and Developer "ecosystem", I found these half-hour "mini" sessions informative and tactical (in terms of what to investigate further).

One of the repeating themes was the emphasis on Lightning Components (Aura). This is the framework that Salesforce uses to build the Salesforce1 mobile application and the future of Force.com custom development.

Force.com Developer Tools I joined this session a bit late; however I was able to pick up a few new "nuggets" and new (to me) tools that I'll be investigating:

Next up was Access External Data in Real-Time with Lightning Connect. A few notes from this session:

Supported External Data Sources - any data sources that can publish data in Open Data (OData) 2.0 protocol. This includes:

  • Commercial Packages

    • SAP Netweaver Gateway
    • Microsoft SQL Server, Dynamics CRM/NAV, Azure Table Services
    • IBM Websphere exTreme Scale
    • Heroku Connect External Objects
  • DIY Data Producer

    • .Net WCF Data Services
    • Java (Apache Olingo, odata4j)
    • NodeJS
  • ...and many more via partners: Dell Boomi, Jitterbit, MuleSoft, Progressive, SoftwareAG

  • Read-only access is GA in Spring '15.

  • Pilot in Spring '15:

    • Read/Write capability
    • Real-time cross-org access
    • Apex Connector library to develop custom connections
  • Future (I can hear Salesforce saying "insert Safe Harbor slide here"...)

    • OData 4.0 - support for triggers
    • Custom Reports for External Objects

Salesforce's Shannon Hale - PM Director - presented Go Faster with Lightning Process Builder.

Twitter photo courtesy @kavindrapatel

I had a chance to play with Process Builder not so long ago, and what she presented reinforced my observations. It's great for quick, automated actions, and calling out to custom Apex code. In fact, she asked us to specifically check out Quick Actions which is now on my "todo" list.

The demo was pretty compelling. She set up a process that - if I remember correctly - intercepted the status of a case. Based on that status - meeting certain conditional criteria - a text message was sent (using Twillio for integration). She entrused me with her cell phone as she changed the case status, and within a few seconds I confirmed receipt of the text message. Shannon quickly jumped into her Sublime editor and showed her SendSMS.cls source. I need to check out @InvocableMethods soon.

Consult the Which tool do I use? page in the Salesforce Process Automation Trailhead section for more information.

You may need to work around some current Process Builder limitations (formula criteria in field updates, sending outbound messages). In these cases, use an Apex class with @InvocableMethods.

Some additional Process Builder FAQs (safe harbor!):

Still giddy about seeing Tom Brady earlier in the day, I tempered my excitement enough to stay put in the Developer Theatre for the Heroku Overview. This session was a bit of a recap for me since I've been dabbling in Heroku for a few years, but still valuable. Overall concepts and topics were reinforced, and on a side note I received confirmation that using the Ghost Blogging Platform (which powers cloudchirp.com) was given an official "thumbs-up" by the speaker from Heroku. He likened Heroku adoption (from a DevOps/infrastructure perspective) to the adoption of Ghost (from a blogging point of view). Both are being adopted very quickly in their respective communities.

The last Developer session I attended was Heroku Connect: Build Apps with Salesforce & Heroku. Again, a bit of a recap as I've already been dabbling with the Nibs example application for a while. The Nibs example illustrates how to synchronize data between a customer-facing web application hosted on Heroku and Salesforce via Heroku Connect. Check it out!

Final Thoughts

After a full day of all-things-Salesforce, I left wanting to learn more. I had hoped to see some presentations on Salesforce Streaming API, WebRTC, websockets, push, etc. - as telephony is another interest of mine - but no such luck.

Overall, a great experience for a free, one day event.