The Silver Lining

Lessons & Learnings from a salesforce certified technical architect.

Posts Tagged ‘VisualForce

Salesforce: JavaScript Remoting – a different way of thinking

with 6 comments


Remoting is awesome.

JavaScript Remoting for Apex operates in a very different paradigm from what you might be used to i.e. Visualforce pages have controllers and the two interact through action methods – where this might be a full form submission or some neat AJAX functionality. Remoting also calls controller methods but there is a gaping maw in terms of how the two work under the hood.

I’ve seen a few great articles on the syntax and example usage of JavaScript Remoting for Apex but when I started using it I came across a number domain differences that weren’t documented anywhere. Hopefully my list here will help you in the learning process. The best way to describe the new way of thinking is to examine the features set in contrast to “normal” Apex and Visualforce.

How JavaScript Remoting Differs

  • Pass parameters naturally i.e. the call matches the method signature syntactically instead of requiring <apex:param/>.
  • Action methods when called in “normal” Visualforce can only return NULL or a PageReference. Remoting allows you to return a wider range of data types, even objects and collections.
  • Remoting methods have no access to the view state e.g. if a static variable is initialised to some value (outside the remoting method) a remoting method will see this as NULL unless it is re-initialised in that method! Conversely if a remoting method sets a state variable value the scope of that value is only within that method.
  • It’s much faster. I’m building an application at the moment that is 95% backed by JS Remoting and when I show it to other developers they are struck dumb for at least 3 hours because of the speed.
  • Neater debugging info in the browser console. Salesforce has done a great job of providing feedback directly to the browser’s console log.
  • Each method call gets its own executional/transactional context i.e. fresh governor limits per call!

If I’ve missed anything please let me know and I’ll add it. Viva la knowledge crowdsourcing!


Written by Wes

February 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Salesforce: A better way to work with jQuery selectors and Visualforce Component Ids

with 24 comments

Irregular Expressions

I get very sad when discussing this particular topic. There are a variety of ways of get Visualforce component Ids and using them in JavaScript but all of them keep me awake at night. Srsly. A commenter on one of my posts got me thinking about how we can do this better and I’ve come up with a way that I think is great. Hopefully you’ll agree.

This post means that my older posts here and here are now retired in favour of this method.

If the world was on the brink of nuclear war with no clear path to peace what could you count on to save the day? Regular Expressions of course. If a meteor the size of Pluto was about to crash into Earth and Bruce Willis was too old to land on it and blow it up what could we count on to rid us of the troublesome rock. Yes that’s right, Regular Expressions. I think you can guess where I’m going with this.

jQuery has the ability to understand very simple regular expressions in it’s attribute selectors. The full documentation can be found here.

To solve our particular problem however the code is simple:


        <script src=""></script>


                   console.log('The following element was found when looking for an id of \'output1\':');
                   console.log($('[id$=output1]')); /* Here's where we're grabbing the element. */


  <apex:outputText value="She sells seashells by the seashore." id="output1"/>
  <apex:outputText value="Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers." id="output2"/>

  <a href="" id="btn">Click me.</a>


The important part here is the selector $(‘[id$=output1]’) which says, “Find the id value that ends with ‘output1′”. This comes with a warning though! Do not duplicate the Visualforce Id that you give to your elements otherwise this piece of code will find all of them.

When I first wrote this post I used a selector extension library that gives you the full power of JavaScript-based regular expression but Ryan Fritts has rightly shown that the above will deal with 99% of use cases and is simpler. For those of you that need to deal with the extra 1% I’ve implemented a wrapper to regex selector as an example. It does exactly what jQuery is doing above and gives you access to the regex flags as documented here.

Thanks again Ryan!

Written by Wes

June 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Client-Side VisualForce Pagination with Pajinate

with 9 comments

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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

April 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Formatting – PageBlockSectionItem, InputField & OutPutField

with 4 comments

There are a collection of forum posts asking why VisualForce formatting isn’t being applied correctly to PageBlockSectionItems and/or InputFields, and the answer isn’t immediately obvious so let’s see what we can throw together. Read the rest of this entry »

Salesforce Form Validation Enhanced

with 56 comments

I have a dream, and in this dream form-validation is not a chore. All the nasty work is done client-side, and we – the developers – control what an error message says and where it says it! Server-side validation?! Pah, I spit in it’s general direction (but only if no ladies are present). I don’t need or want client-server round-trips.. I want speed, I want beauty, I want control; and I think you do too.

Our end goal: A neat, realtime, client-side validation technique for VisualForce.

Using either inputFields, Apex exception handling and/or the ‘required’ attribute in VisualForce, we have a number of mechanisms to deal with form-validation, but if we’re honest with ourselves, they’re the ten-thousands-spoons when all we need is a knife. I know you’ve heard me singing it’s praise from the rooftops, but yet again, jQuery is here to save the day. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

March 2, 2010 at 11:44 am

VisualForce Element Ids in jQuery selectors

with 19 comments

I have retired this approach in favour of a much neater solution that can be found here.

This tricky topic had me puzzled for some time and in earlier posts I went the way of using CSS classes to identify DOM elements; but was always a touch dissatisfied with the solution. Not only is it less efficient – valid XHTML pages should only have one element with any Id, although CSS classes can be shared by many elements – but it also feels all hacky ‘n stuff. I’m a bit older now, a bit more experienced and I RTFM. Without further ado, here is why it’s tricky, and how to fix it. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wes

February 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm

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