Forcelandia: A Salesforce Developers Mini-Dreamforce

The Portland Salesforce Developer Group recently hosted the first (of what I hope are many to come) Forcelandia event on July 23rd. This event exceeded all my expectations and felt more like a hands-on mini-Dreamforce event rather than a Salesforce Developer Group Meetup. The event attracted approximately 60 attendees, along with another 10-15 event organizers, Salesforce employees, Salesforce MVPs, and other highly visible members of the Salesforce community. The day-long event was organized into two tracks, one focused more on Salesforce administration, and the other for Salesforce development.

I stayed on the developer side of the room all day, and got to hear “pre-Dreamforce” presentations from some amazing people. The keynote was delivered by Peter Coffee, VP for Strategic Research at Salesforce, and as his title would suggest, it was visionary. He spoke about changing the way we think about business, to solve solutions to problems we don’t even know exist right now. It was the perfect setup to get us into an innovative mindset as we delved into the developer sessions.

First up for the developer sessions was Jeff Douglas (Consultant at Appirio) – a long time Salesforce MVP. He went over the various tools available to ease integration and “upscale” our development integrations with Heroku. Heroku is a PaaS provider that lets you build customer facing complex applications in a multitude of development languages at lightning (get it?) speed! Not only was Jeff informative and entertaining, but the “beer memes” he had on each slide kept us laughing throughout the entire presentation!

The next session I attended was Samantha Ready’s talk on using JavaScript in Visualforce pages. Samantha is a senior developer evangelist at Salesforce, and from her presentation everyone present could tell why. She was extremely passionate about the flexibility that the Salesforce platform allows for its Visualforce pages. From including a variety of libraries, to using integrated tools, to creating Visualforce pages on the fly, Samantha showed us exactly what it means to be a whiz at Visualforce development. Just to prove her point, she created her entire presentation (which looked like a well-polished PowerPoint) as a Visualforce page, with all of the standard controls you would find when presenting a PowerPoint demo. If that isn’t an accomplishment in itself, she also made it look easy!

Next up was my favorite speaker of the day, Dan Appleman. Dan is author of Advanced Apex Programming and is widely regarded as one of the best Apex coders out there. During his session, he talked about some new functionality that Salesforce is giving to Apex developers, and how we can best use it to its maximum potential. He then spent the second half of his presentation showing us how important testing is, as he wrote a very simple program that raced past governance limits, ignored them, and could have created quite a stir at Salesforce if he had not programmed an off switch (well done, Dan!). Dan was funny and passionate about what he does. Most importantly, he provided a new way of thinking about the tools that Salesforce gives to its developers.

Forcelandia closed out with a panel of MVPs answering questions from the community. This was particularly fun, as the range of questions went from deeply technical within Salesforce, to some amusing personal questions that helped us get to know our Salesforce MVPs better.

This “mini-Dreamforce” event was immensely successful, gathering innovative and driven people from all over the greater Northwest. A huge shout out to Angela Mahoney and Larry Latimer for putting on this fantastic event, put me down as a 100% yes RSVP to Forcelandia 2.0!

If you are interested in Salesforce and are located in the Portland area, I encourage you to join their Meetup Group.  If you are a bit farther north in Seattle, we have our own Meetup Group as well, and will be taking some pages out of Angela and Larry’s book for future meetings.

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