The Silver Lining

Lessons & Learnings from a salesforce certified technical architect.

Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing

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/

Advertisements

Written by Wes

March 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Cloud Computing – A Programmer’s Implementation of Hardware and Software Infrastructure?

with 5 comments

Geeks - so efficient even lunch only takes half the time.

Yes, it’s a sweeping statement, and the comparison I’ll make probably doesn’t fill every nook and cranny but it’s just so darn tasty that I had to quickly knock something out. I think that the developer collective have a massive influence over the direction of software evolution, and therefore it’s underlying technologies. In times gone past the influence probably wasn’t so large (or was it Mr Turing?), but with the rise and rise of the Socially Networked era I think the effect has snowballed.

So where is my justification? Well it lies primarily in anecdote – yes yes I hear your nerdy cries you sons & daughters of empirical science, but hear me out m’kay. We, the developers, spend probably more time online than even an opposite-sex obsessed teen does on facebook (yes, I know it’s part of the internet). We search and we scrounge, getting easily bored and looking for the next interesting tidbit, that scrap of information that will make us better programmers or just entertain us. We take the weak, inefficient and uninteresting and toss it aside while rolling The Good Stuff ™ into our work thereby influencing something as small as the font-family used in the corporate intranet, to something as grand as your start-ups Next Big Idea.

I’ve waxed lyrical but I’d like to get down-right specific. Some large parallels can be drawn between the world of OOP and the advent of Cloud Computing, and it is primarily for this reason that I suspect that some developers somewhere (past or present) were key in architecting what we today call Cloud Computing. OOP is by no means the alpha-and-omega of programming philosophy but it was a fundamental and incredibly intelligent paradigm shift – as is Cloud Computing. My comparison is made by drawing parallels with 2 of the main tenets of OOP.

Encapsulation

Encapsulation can be defined as an information hiding mechanism – and I don’t mean in a Wikileaks expose kind of way. Broadly this is described as:

the internal representation of an object is generally hidden from view outside of the object’s definition. Typically, only the object’s own methods can directly inspect or manipulate its fields.

To those familiar with Cloud Computing the correlation is immediately apparent. As a customer of Cloud XYZ I expect the provider to deal with all of the infrastructure setup and maintenance while providing interfaces that let me create applications or host servers or whatever. For example, if I’m using GAE I don’t really need to know how many servers you have or the amount of RAM that each has installed, I just need to know that I can develop, build, deploy and run my application and that it will scale well.

Cloud Computing hides the implementation of the tools that you need in order to complete development whilst providing interfaces to these tools that make this possible.

Abstraction

Single Rainbow! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

For those unfamiliar with the concept it can be quite… abstract. Examples always help:

Abstraction is simplifying complex reality by modelling classes appropriate to the problem, and working at the most appropriate level of inheritance for a given aspect of the problem.
For example, Lassie the Dog may be treated as a Dog much of the time, a Collie when necessary to access Collie-specific attributes or behaviors, and as an Animal (perhaps the parent class of Dog) when counting Timmy’s pets.

All of the clouds together i.e. all those platforms ending in “aaS” can be seen to form the highest level of abstraction. If you need a platform to host your Ruby applications then you’d starting shopping for a PaaS. Once your platform is chosen then you deal with the next layer of abstraction which might be concepts/requirements such as database space, CPU time and amount of RAM. The next layer might then be the application itself and so on and so forth.

Cloud Computing takes complex systems and breaks them into easy to digest chunks. By organising these into abstracted layers (imagine zoom-levels on a map) you can concentrate on, and understand, the level of information most applicable to your situation.

It is largely accepted that there are 2 more core principles of OOP namely Inheritance and Polymorphism. While parallels with Cloud Computing can be drawn for these two concepts I don’t think they’re as revolutionary as Encapsulation and Abstraction. Perhaps you disagree and if you do I’d love to hear your explanations.

So you’ve said some stuff and now I should believe you?

Of course not, but if you’re a developer I’m going to bet my bottom dollar (pound) that this makes sense to you; and not only does it make sense but you can see how big an improvement it really is. I have the utmost respect for those bigwigs in management as well as those well-dressed consultants, but for me I cannot see this type of vision being born anywhere else except in the mind of someone who’s gotten stuck into meaty application development and application architecture. Who ever it was, and where ever they may be, I salute them (live long and prosper).

Written by Wes

February 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Announcing the Salesforce Handbook

with 6 comments

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.

%d bloggers like this: