The Silver Lining

Lessons & Learnings from a salesforce certified technical architect.

Archive for the ‘force.com’ Category

Salesforce: Force.com Sites and Google Analytics

with 3 comments

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 šŸ˜›

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.

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Written by Wes

March 11, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Salesforce: Programmatically Populating Sample Data Post-Deployment

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I’m not sure if this concept is obvious when reading my previous post, so I thought I’d run through it with a specific example.

Rule one of packaging - Finish your bolognese first!

Let’s say that you’ve created what can only be described as an exemplary application in the form of a Managed Package. Although your user interface is beyond compare, you’d also like to populate some of your core objects with example data. Some options that immediately spring to mind are:

  1. Get the person that installs the package to call you, and you can do it post-installation.
  2. Get the person that installs the package to create sample data manually post-installation.
  3. Give the user a “Start Here” page with a call-to-action – such as a commandButton – that fetches the data from some API and parses into object data.

Option 3 is pretty excellent, especially now that you can package Remote Site Settings but I think we can do one better. And when I say better I mean simpler and with fewer potential points of failure. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

January 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Salesforce: Enhanced Custom Settings

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Okay book’s done, now where were we? Oh yes software development, right? Programming software engineering application development h4x0R-ing. Oh how I’ve missed getting my mitts dirty so without further ado…

Now this one goes right about... here!

Some time back Custom Settings were introduced on the Force.com Platform and we all star-jumped in the air, w00ting to anyone who would listen. UpĀ till this point – if you’re anything like me – you were using custom objects to hold configuration data, whether this be lists of language-codes, or operational settings such at outbound web service endpoints, usernames, passwords etc. With Custom Settings you finally had a place to put this information – a home if you will – for your lonely, orphaned Control Data.

Quite quickly however I realised there was still a gaping hole that could be filled with Custom Settings but just didn’t feel right. Lists of data (such as currency codes and descriptions) fit really well into this structure but more serious Control Data that you only need to be listed once-off (such as important URLs, flags to active/deactive modules in your application, usernames and passwords) just don’t seem like they really belong with this other crowd. A quick list of reasons highlights this:

  • Control Data is typically entered once off and creating an entire Custom Setting for a single line of data feels like a waste.
  • Custom Settings are data so they can’t be deployed with code, they must be created after the fact. Control Data should be a little more important than regular data, it needs a smarter vehicle than plain-old data entry.
  • If you’re creating packages you want as much autonomy for your clients as possible. If you use custom settings there will have to be that “Create data in Custom Setting X__c” step in each and every deployment. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

December 30, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Announcing the Salesforce Handbook

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Recently, Jeff Douglas and I saw the potential for a beginner’s book – aimed at business owners, analysts and developers, that comprehensively documents Salesforce and Force.com. There is a tonne of documentation out there and we thought “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handbook that lightly summarised the most important areas of the platforms as well as offering some best practise advice”. We mulled it over for a time, and today we’d like to announce that we’re currently writing:

The Salesforce Handbook

A newcomer’s guide to building applications on Salesforce.com and the Force.com Platform.

Hand-in-hand with the book we’ll be publishing content from the book on a WordPress site. Here you can expect to find excerpts from the book, but also content that supplements the book e.g. areas that’ll serve as best-practice hubs with links to official documentation, blog posts that rock the party, and even superb discussion forum threads.

We’d love to get your feedback on the book as it progresses, but for now you can checkout the announcement and let us know what you think of the idea.

Salesforce: Using basic email templates from Apex code

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A few weeks ago I noticed a number of questions in the forums around how to use email templates from Apex classes. I Googled a few keywords and come up with very little. I then trawled the documentation but came up empty-handed. Eventually it was Eclipse that provided the knowledge required, and I thought I’d share it with the good ol’ developer community.

One part of the process is discovering that Salesforce stores all sorts of items as records in objects; some of them being email templates, user information and even Apex class bodies (scandalous). All you have to do is query them. The other major part is finding that the method you need is missing from the Apex documentation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

May 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Force.com vs GAE + GWT

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Salesforce could be regarded as the cloud computing leader but history tells us that many-a-giant has fallen before. Apple has; Microsoft has; IBM has. I think Salesforce is still on the up ‘n up, but there are contenders out there and some of them are noteworthy; probably the most obvious of these is Google. Over the past few months I’ve dug into the Google cloud platform and I thought it was time to attempt a side-by-side comparison of my two favourite PaaS providers.

The bigger they are ...

Some quick definitions are probably in order:

Force.com is a cloud computing platform as a service offering from Salesforce, the first of its kind allowing developers to build multi tenant applications that are hosted on their servers as a service.

Google App Engine is a platform for developing and hostingĀ web applications in Google-managed data centers.

Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is an open source set of tools that allows web developers to create and maintain complex JavaScript front-end applications in Java. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

May 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Client-Side VisualForce Pagination with Pajinate

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Pajinated DataTable

Pagination is an essential, and not so easy to implement user interface device that allows the developer to break long lists of items, or one very long item into sub-pages. I love the challenge that pagination brings (who doesn’t really) when developing efficient and reusable server-side code, but this article isn’t about that. Sometimes I need things done quickly, easily, and preferably with as little compromise as possible, and that’s what client-side pagination is all about. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

April 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm

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