The Silver Lining

Lessons & Learnings from a salesforce certified technical architect.

Friends Romans Country[wo]men

with 24 comments

In an attempt to attend DreamForce this year – I will conquer the Atlantic! – I’ve written up a white paper on a set of tools and workflows that I’ve found superb in more ways than one. I’d be happy & ecstatic(hapstatic?) if you could take a gander at my paper and, if it tickles your fancy, give it your vote. The idea itself describes the paper, but I failed to proof read it (and shock! Horror! There is no edit capability) so I’ll post a more refined version here,

Rapid application development is one of the strongest selling points of Salesforce and Platform; one that I’ve personally experienced time and time again. However, when it comes to translating that beautiful design document into a VisualForce interface, going from the design bits

The design document built from the template

to a cross-browser, standards-compliant site prototype can be troublesome and often takes several days… and let’s be honest, potentially weeks.

This paper discusses best practices when rapidly prototyping VisualForce pages using a tool set called the 960 Grid System; a free set of design & design-translation tools that helps traditional web developers rapidly build super-slick sites. Think it sounds too good to be true? The above design document was translated into aΒ VisualForce page in less than 6 hours; is standards-compliant; and will work in most (if not all) modern browsers.

Lend me your ears, and I’ll give you the knowledge to get your quality product to market more quickly & efficiently than ever before.

I’ve also included a short screencast which touches on these points,

If it doesn’t make it into the chosen list of white papers I’ll post a tutorial and the page code here, but I’ve got my fingers crossed πŸ˜‰


Written by Wes

April 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

24 Responses

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  1. Heh, the old no edit on Idea Exchange gag. πŸ™‚

    Will vote.


    April 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm

  2. You have my vote!


    April 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

  3. Wes, I think this is an awesome idea and am glad you put something together outlining an approach. I think this is severely lacking. I wrote a Visualforce generator a year or so ago but it only worked from an existing page layout. I think this route is much superior. I voted with 7 different accounts. Hope to get you over here.

    Jeff Douglas

    April 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm

  4. You got my vote!

    Tim Inman

    April 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

  5. Voted, but should bring you over even if this isn’t selected do to all the community involvement you do; forums, blogs, etc.


    April 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    • Thanks Tehnrd, your appreciation is appreciated very much.


      April 12, 2010 at 7:00 pm

  6. Nice one Wes, ^B from me! (that’s my crude attempt at ‘thumbs up’). All your info is top notch.

    Stephen B

    April 21, 2010 at 5:28 am

  7. I voted, my family voted (and you can bet they don’t even know what Salesforce is) and all my fellow cheese eater did too.


    April 27, 2010 at 9:36 am

    • Thank you Moron Groover. Thank You Family. Thank you France in general πŸ™‚


      April 27, 2010 at 11:41 am

  8. So what happened to this? The links are broken and I can’t see a tutorial.

    I’m just looking at free sites and getting immensely frustrated – I think I probably need to buy your book but I’m in the UK.

    I’m wondering if Salesforce’s business plan is to provide a complicated product with inaccessible documentation and then make a killing on support contracts – but perhaps I’m just a cynic. It’s just I get the same feeling as when I look at Linux …. Hmm, interesting, but not quite ready for prime-time yet.


    January 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    • Yip, Sites it VERY frustrating initially. There are only a handful of gotchas really but they stand directly in the path of most (even simple) projects. If you post to the forums and send me the link I’ll try help you out.

      I live in the UK, and the book is internationally available so there shouldn’t be a problem there.

      The problem is that their system is enormous, and there are mountains of documentation. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like associated material sits together. Unfortunately this is a pain until you get a feel for where things should be.

      I think is ready for the mainstream enterprise but their consumer web offering is still quite immature, but I’ve heard from the horses mouth that they’re working on that. For now there are some projects that just don’t fit into their offering, hopefully this isn’t the case for you.

      Oh, and I gave the talk on the above topic in San Francisco. It’s available here:


      January 18, 2011 at 9:15 pm

  9. Thanks for the reply.

    I’m just trying to prove the development cycle process by transferring a simple existing site and adding some user-editable news content pages, and I’ve run into a couple of problems.

    This one is fairly major, and there doesn’t seem any way round it without moving to the IDE which I suspect will just add to my problems:

    This one is not stopping me, but it doesn’t work correctly and I don’t understand why it won’t redirect to my page on save as it should. Using the code in the ‘solution’ throws up an error:

    Thanks for the YouTube link – I’ll check out the 960gs stuff although it seemed a big jump from the wireframe to the finished site at the end!

    (Sadly I’m just about old enough to remember all 5 generations of programming …)


    January 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    • The first post is a bug, I came across it myself some time ago and reported it. Not sure when it’ll get fixed. And yes, the IDE or a knowledge of Ant will be required but if you’re in it for the long haul I’d suggest getting familiar with the IDE. It’s the only thing you’ll use to develop once you’ve got some experience under your belt.

      For the second post I link to the wiki article you’ve mentioned seems to be dead. My advice is to follow what TPD says on that page. Make sure your controller method has a different name to “save”. If you can send me a link to the code you’re referring to I can help you troubleshoot a bit more.

      There is a jump in the video from the wireframe to the final product, but it’s mostly a design (graphic design + a touch of custom CSS) jump and as such the topic is different. If you had a dedicated designer to make your images for you you’d be surprised how easy making that jump is though! I am experienced but the final touches took me less than 20 minutes πŸ™‚


      January 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm

  10. As I feared, I tried to install the IDE and just ended up with yet another problem:


    January 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    • Can’t catch a break can you? πŸ™‚ Try (if you select production/developer edition it should do this for you), and don’t forget your security token!


      January 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm

  11. Here’s the link to the blog code:-

    I tried to follow what was suggested but it just raised an error that I didn’t understand. IIRC a missing class or method or something.

    Finally got in to the production/dev edition with the token – don’t know why the sandbox doesn’t work though. Should I just be creating different projects instead of sandboxes and deploying code between one prod env and another then?

    This is all the stuff that I haven’t found in the documentation – the stuff that if you don’t figure out at the start, you’ll spend weeks down the line sorting out. Like don’t bother with a free force account because you’ll never be able to deploy it!

    I’ve ordered your book so I’m hoping it covers all of this stuff!!


    January 19, 2011 at 9:01 pm

  12. Book’s on the way, but in the meantime I’m stuck once again:-

    Frustrating …

    I’m hoping the book begins at the beginning …


    January 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    • Looks like you found a solution πŸ™‚


      January 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm

  13. Actually I’ve got a working site πŸ™‚ – OK, it’s nothing special, but it feels like a result.

    You book arrived today – good service from hulu – I’ll get stuck in.


    January 24, 2011 at 8:53 pm

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