Blazing my own path on Salesforce Trailhead

Salesforce Trailhead!I’ve always been into puzzles and word games. I guess that’s one of the things that I like about the coding that I’ve done in the past. I have about 10 years (on and off…mostly off these days) experience with CFML and SQL, so code logic isnt’ new to me, even if Object Oriented Programming is. So when shortly after Dreamforce, Salesforce announced Trailhead I was thrilled! I just now finished my first trail and thought I’d write a wee post to tell you all about it.

First, I love the challenges. They’re not too hard, but they’re not a step-by-step, so I had to really read what they were asking me to do. There is something super satisfying about pushing the button to check your code and getting a reward when you get it right. I now have five badges and 4700 points! Woo hooo!

Once, way back when I was a newbie supervisor I went to one of those day-long trainings on, “How to Be a Great Supervisor!”  I learned a bunch of stuff that I think made my poor staff look at me strange (and made me seem waaaaaay to earnest). But I did discover one thing that has always stuck with me. We did an exercise where we ranked a list of “rewards” by what motivated me the most. Turns out that I’m not as motivated by some of the things as I thought I would be; like money and fancy titles (not that I don’t like them!). I was more motivated by getting things done, and recognition from others.

Now, I don’t want to paint myself as some wacked-out, co-dependent type. But I do know that I love checking things off lists and seeing my name on a leaderboard. I’ve been known to write a task on my to-do list just so I can get that little thrill of crossing it off. Whatever works man! At least I did the task and I’m sure that wee bit of endorphin isn’t going to hurt me. Right? Whatever!

Get to the point girl!

But I’m rambling and I haven’t even gotten to the main topic of this post (and it isn’t really the “wee” post I promised). Back on track! Focus! Ok!

I just finished the first Salesforce Trailhead on the developer community site and I have to say that while it was a little dry in the beginning (a lot of reading and no challenges) it pretty quickly got more interesting. As a self-taught Salesforce Admin, I found I had a few holes in my knowledge that I was happy to plug.

While I knew a lot of this stuff, I haven’t had the need to use all the setup tasks in my own org. While I’ve created a ton of views and modified many page layouts, I’d never created a custom button, and I hate to admit it, but this is the first time I really got when you would use a Lookup relationship vs a Master-Detail. I also liked the section on importing data, because while I mostly use DemandTools (which have I mentioned today that I LOVE, and no they don’t pay me to say that!), I like knowing what’s available and it’s a nice interface!

Did I also mention that I got FIVE BADGES! Yep… so satisfying!!
Check, check, check, check and check!

Me and my five shiny new Salesforce Trailhead badges!

A map to Trailhead

There are currently three trails available, some of which are more complete than others, with more “coming soon.” The trail I just finished was Getting Started with the Platform, which included five no-coding-needed modules:

  • Basics — Introduction, navigating setup, and intro to the developer console
  • Data Modeling — Standard objects, custom objects, custom fields, relationships, and Schema Builder
  • Data Management — Importing and exporting data
  • Formulas & Validations — Using formula fields, roll-up summaries, and validation rules
  • UI Customizations — Creating custom buttons and links, modifying page layouts, and creating lit views

Each module has between two and four “steps,” which included some reading and then completing a challenge (with between 100 and 500 points when you get them right!). You will need a developer org to complete the challenges, but don’t be intimidated because the first module walks you through signing up, and from there it’s all point-and-click admin stuff.

Even if you’ve been an admin for a while (like me) you may learn something and it also looks like it might be a good refresher resource for anyone studying for their Admin Certification exam (like I am). Also, it’s a good prep to starting to learn Apex. Both the Basics and the Data Modeling  modules were great introductions to stuff you’ll use all over the place in Apex coding.

Be forewarned that this is still in Beta, so there are some things that they’ll probably do a little differently (like the “Create a button” challenge had me create a button to a Google page, but the url wasn’t correct, so while I passed the challenge my button went to a 404 page), that’s what Beta is for, right!

Final thoughts…

So my final conclusion so far I’ve found this a great resource that makes learning fun and entertaining, even though I mostly knew the topics. I recommend it as an interactive way to get oriented to Salesforce. And who doesn’t love to solve challenges…right?!

Kudos to the Salesforce Developer Support team!