The Silver Lining

Lessons & Learnings from a salesforce certified technical architect.

Archive for March 2011

Salesforce & LinkedIn Developer API: 401 – Unauthorized

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Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I’m not going to get into the boilerplate code you’ll need in order to get OAuth up and running as it’s pretty straight forward, but I did run into a peculiar issue which took me some time to narrow down. To reproduce these steps you’ll need to:

  1. Correctly setup OAuth between the Force.com Platform and LinkedIn
  2. Authorise access to your LinkedIn account
  3. Attempt to fetch a resource using an API endpoint such as: http://api.linkedin.com/v1/people/~/network/updates?scope=self

When attempting to make the call out in step 3 you’ll get a “401 – Unauthorized” error. So to be clear OAuth is working perfectly but a call like this one will still result in the error.

After some troubleshooting I noticed that some API endpoints didn’t result in the error e.g. http://api.linkedin.com/v1/people/id=abcdefg/network/updates?scope=self. At this point I realised the issue was probably the tilde (‘~’) character in the URI.

Grasping at straws I manually replaced the tilde with it’s URL friendly equivalent ‘%7E’ and the callout worked perfectly. Now this is strange because I am, in the course of making the callout, URL encoding all parts of the endpoint URL. It seems that for some reason the LinkedIn OAuth services needs to have the tilde encoded twice when signing the request :/

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Across the Pond with Jason Venable aka TehNrd

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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/

Written by Wes

March 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Salesforce: Force.com Sites and Google Analytics

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This is a cross-post from the Tquila blog.

My Favourite Chart Type

Not having analytics built into your public sites is much like having a Q&A site but not allowing people to answer. In this case some of the questions are:

  • Where did you come from?
  • How long did you stick around for?
  • Where did you hang out on your visit?

Now I’m not going to debate which set of analytics is best but I did come across a few quirks when setting Google Analytics (GA) up for wesnolte.com that I suspect are fairly universal.

Build a Site

This of course is quite a big step and I’m going to assume you’re just about done. To get analytics up and running though you’re going to have to do a few extra bits.

Don't hack me pls.

  1. Sign up for a GA account, create a Website Profile and you’ll receive an Analytics Code. My code has been blocked out in orange in the image alongside, your code should appear in it’s place.
  2. Insert the standard Google Analytics Visualforce component into your page.
  3. Enter the same Analytics Code as above on the Force.com Site Detail page – the field is called “Analytics Tracking Code”.

If you go back to your Analytics home page and refresh you’ll see a little warning sign that tells you something is amiss – and it is but it’s difficult to figure out just what that something is.

S.O.S

The problem in this case is that the default robots.txt file for Force.com Sites blocks all bots. This is not a bad idea but it’s not obvious when setting all this up.

Michaelforce and myself seemed to have had these pains at the same time and he posted his findings here. You’ll need to apply step 3 from his post to allow GA to peek at your site.

Now in my particular case I did all of this and GA was still not able to access my site so I threw in the towel and coded the GA JavaScript straight into my page. A few days later however I realised that the robots.txt was probably caching so I ripped out that funky ol’ JavaScript, plugged the Visualforce component back in and BHAM! It worked. Now I know that exactly 5 people visit my site per day, and that 4 of them of from the UK 😛

Some Advice

My analytics are working a charm but I’ve realised there’s a snag. Since salesforce.com doesn’t allow you access to their nameservers you have to point your root domain to your Force.com Site using URL forwarding at the domain registrar’s side i.e. I can use a CNAME to point www.wesnolte.com to my Force.com site but wesnolte.com has to bounce to my registrars forwarding server before it finally hits the real site. What this means is that – to GA – the traffic directly to wesnolte.com looks like it’s all coming from one source, that is the forwarding server. The only way that I know to work around this is to get people to only use the http://www.domain.com form of your URL – not ideal I know.

Written by Wes

March 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

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