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While Salesforce.com prides itself on being intuitive for nondevelopers, perfecting your developer skills can help you get more out of the platform -- and your job. And as companies delve into new projects, such as building mobile apps on top of their Salesforce CRM system, it behooves customer relationship management professionals to hone their Salesforce development skills to become more marketable.
New offerings like Salesforce Lightning, a set of development tools and a framework to make it easier to develop custom applications, are user-friendly, but CRM professionals will find that the more development knowledge they have, the more ready they will be to tailor apps' functionality to the needs of their businesses beyond just point and click.
Most Salesforce administrators have probably had a request that seemed simple at the time, but then realized that it involved a nonstandard feature in Salesforce that needed a trigger (i.e., Apex code) to accomplish. With consulting firms becoming a large part of many CRM budgets, given a lack of internal resources, internal developer knowledge is invaluable.
At first, it can seem daunting to someone who has no background in computer science or Java, or even HTML, to not only learn the Apex and Visualforce language, but also to understand coding in general. But over the past few years, multiple resources have become available to admins that have opened the door to developer concepts. The resources range from videos and workbooks to hands-on tutorials and prep work for Developer certifications. Using these resources is the best way to gain a grasp of the Salesforce developer world and start tinkering in your own sandbox.
For those who wish to start this journey, here are a few of the best online resources:
- Salesforce Trailhead (beta). This new resource became available following Dreamforce 2014, and though it's new, it looks like a powerful way to learn the developer console and start building Visualforce pages and triggers. The modules connect to your free developer instance so that you get a hands-on learning experience from the outset. This fits nicely with the Force.com Workbook, which shows how to create a cloud app in a series of tutorials.
- SFDC99.com. This resource was created by David Liu, a Salesforce Most Valued Professional (MVP), who has a marketing background and taught himself Salesforce administration and development with the tips on his page. It has plenty of posts and links to resources to begin your journey to become a Salesforce advanced developer.
- YouTube.This is also a great resource for developers. Many of the first-rate training videos (from hands-on training at Salesforce) are here:
- Social media. In addition to videos, tutorials and workbooks, there are also numerous places to ask questions when you hit a roadblock. You can access sample code, generate ideas and connect with others by joining a user group, following MVPs on Twitter and, of course, becoming involved in the Salesforce Success community.
With these resources, an admin can step into the developer world. These Salesforce developer skills will open doors for any admin, even within his or her current company. And for business owners, helping admins make strides in Salesforce development can reduce consultancy costs or time spent with internal IT, a department that may not be dedicated to Salesforce all the time. Creating internal Salesforce CRM development "experts" can alleviate time drains and budget constraints.
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