The Silver Lining

Lessons & Learnings from a salesforce certified technical architect.

Across the Pond with Jason Venable aka TehNrd

with 5 comments

The face of TehNrd

Today I start a series of posts that’ll appear here and on the Tquila blog. The series will be in the format of Q&A with some of the finest Salesforce.com and Force.com evangelists, admins and developers. I’m starting with Jason Venable aka TehNrd and I’ll let him introduce himself.

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. How long have you worked with the CRM vs the Force.com Platform? Were you always a developer?

A: My name is Jason Venable. I am 27 years old. I live in Seattle, Washington, USA. Oh, wait, you want something more interesting, got it. I’ve been working with salesforce.com CRM for a little over 4 years. Three of these years have also been working with force.com. All of this time has been administering and developing for a large enterprise salesforce.com deployment at F5 Networks. A lot of what I do is merging the two worlds of salesforce.com and force.com to meet business needs. This includes using all of the features force.com has to offer including, custom objects, validation rules, Apex code triggers, Visualforce pages, and web services to enhance and improve our companies use of salesforce.com.

Have I always been a developer? Heck no! If you told me I’d be doing coding and web app development 4 years ago I would have laughed at you. College classes that had me coding in notepad and some not so great experiences with the now dead s-controls left a bad taste in my mouth when it came to development. Then salesforce.com released Apex code and I saw how it could solve some of the problems we where facing. I taught myself the basics and the rest is history.

I also have a little blog related to all sorts of force.com goodness at tehnrd.com and some people follow around @TehNrd in Twitterland.

Q: What is your favourite type of development on the platform? What piece of work are you most proud of?

A: Databases design, triggers, and workflow are all cool but what I really like is building snazzy web apps. This has become even funner after jumping on the jQuery and jQueryUI bandwagon (disclaimer: I am a major jQuery fanboy). These JavaScript libraries allow you to make rich web apps with animations, drag & drop, and all sorts of other slick effects with minimal code. Pair this with Visualforce and the force.com database and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some great awesomesauce applications.

I think the coolest thing I’ve ever built on force.com was Gameforce. If anyone from salesforce.com reads this please don’t sue me for stealing your naming convention. Gameforce is a site built with force.com where you can play games. There is a single player black jack card game but what I think is even cooler is multiplayer Connect 4 and what I mean by multiplayer is two people on separate computers anywhere in the world. What I’m really proud of is this site is pure force.com. There is no flash, JavaScript, or any other tricks to handle the multiplayer game. You can check it out here.

Q: Where do you think “The Cloud” is headed?

A: I won’t even pretend to be the first person to say or think this, you talked about it here: http://tquilamockingbird.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/salesforce-com-crm-vs-oracle-ondemand/

But I really believe the younger generation will push adoption of the cloud to the next level. The CTOs and CEOs of today pick “the cloud” because it’s easy to manage, cheaper, and scalable. The CTOs and CEOs of tomorrow will choose cloud solutions for these same reasons but also because they know nothing else. Kids today use “the cloud” every day but don’t even realize it. Webmail, google docs, and mobile me to name a few. How many people under 20 use a local web client to check their personal mail, probably 3. How many people under 20 upload every picture they take to Flickr or Facebook and then don’t worry about the local copy, a lot. When it is time for these kids to choose solutions that solve business problems they will look to “the cloud” without even realizing “the cloud” is something new and useful. To them it will be their norm and the way things have always been.

Q: Which of the Spice Girls do you most closely identify with?

A: Of course the one living in UK has to work in a Spice Girls question. A secret fan you are perhaps? I’m not that scary and I’m not a baby. I don’t have red hair and I haven’t played organized sports in over 9 years. So in some strange way I think I just identified myself as relating the closest to Posh spice. Oh boy, I’m not going to be able to live this one down. I’m definitely not snobby or upscale but the other day someone said I had cool shoes so I guess that makes me stylish and poshy? Posh Dev!

Q: What advice do you have for beginners on the Force.com platform?

A: For beginners the Force.com Workbooks are a great resource. http://wiki.developerforce.com/index.php/Forcedotcomworkbook I am super jealous these didn’t exist when I first started. They are clear, concise, and walk you through the steps of building a full blown application. I also hear pretty good things about the Salesforce Handbook. apparently two guys that know a thing or two about salesforce.com and force.com development wrote it. The forums at developer.force.com are also a great place to hang out. When I first started doing force.com development the forums where the only resource available and the community helped me solve problems that ranged from the “simple face palm I can’t believe it was that easy” problems to the “holy smokes there is no way on earth I would have ever figured this out on my own” problems.

Q: Do you by any chance know of a better way to peel an orange?

A: Funny you ask because I actually do know the most superior method in the entire universe on how to consume an orange… http://www.tehnrd.com/the-best-way-to-eat-an-orange/

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Written by Wes

March 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I am 27 as well, and have been working with Salesforce.com for about 5 years now. I started out by migrating multiple legacy databases into Salesforce. Since then, I have been customizing Salesforce to simplify the work of our Sales people, and enforce our business rules so that reporting is as tight as possible.

    A lot of the development that I have done within Salesforce has been S-controls, and only a few APEX pages, but i hope to get some time to catch up and learn. I also have built several external .NET applications that integrate with Salesforce.com data.

    What opportunities have you been exposed to because of a SFDC Developer Certification?

    Thanks again for sharing,
    Sean
    Follow me @spdoran22

    Sean Doran

    March 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    • Hi Sean, is this a question for Jason? He won’t get an alert on this comment but I can let him know if you’d like.

      Wes

      March 16, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      • It was an open questions, but directed towards him i guess. I’d like to know anyones opinion on how the certification has influenced their lives. Whether it is reputable or just a resume filler.

        Sean Doran

        March 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    • Courses are an excellent place to learn if you are a beginner or feel your knowledge is weak in any one area. It’s also really good to have the certs if you’re a contractor, consultant or belong to a consultancy because of the credibility it lends. There are certain items of work that you can’t get without them.

      In terms of the opportunities you might be exposed to, I think that although the certifications can help, if you work hard enough you can make your own opportunities. I don’t have any certifications (although I’ll start soon) but I’ve written a book about salesforce.com and the force.com platform, won developer challenges and developer hero awards and was most recently elected into the MVP program. These factors have allowed me to get jobs with awesome companies, my most recent job being the best of all.

      tldr; if you’re looking for opportunities certifications aren’t necessary but I’d get them because of other benefits they bring.

      Wes

      March 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

  2. [...] the Pond” is a series of Q&A blog posts where I interview some of the salesforce.com and Force.com Platform‘s brightest stars. Most [...]


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