The Spring releases of Salesforce are my favorite. They are always packed with awesome new features and people actually have the time to explore them. Everyone is refreshed from the previous year's Dreamforce and not yet too concerned about the next one. So what do we have to look forward to this year? I'm glad you asked.
Looking at the state of Salesforce and what is coming down the pike, here are 5 broad "skills" that Salesforce developers should be familiar with for 2015. It should be noted that Salesforce1 Lightning is interspersed between all of these. We are going to hear about Lightning in the same way we did Chatter a couple of years ago. Great marketers know, "Tell your audience what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Then tell them what you just told them." Brace yourself for the Lightning fire hose.
On that same note, get ready for the Salesforce1 Lighting Developer Week during the week of March 9. Over 100 Salesforce developer groups, user groups, and non-profit user groups across the globe will be holding Lighting sessions to get everyone up to speed. I'll be presenting in San Diego so make sure you get tied in with your local group.
Salesforce is making a big push into the enterprise this year with Heroku so be ready. Heroku's CEO, Tod Nielsen, is now the EVP Platform at Salesforce so we are hoping for some awesome synergistic integration.
Why build apps on Heroku when you already have Salesforce? While Salesforce is geared for employee centric apps, Heroku is perfect for customer facing and mobile apps. With Heorku you can build customer apps in virtualy any language that instantly sync with Salesforce. Trust me, Heroku isn't as scary as most Salesfoce developers think and there are tons great use cases for running apps on Heroku. Once you try Heroku you'll be as hooked as I am.
Just in time for this blog post, Salesforce kicked off their push with Heroku yesterday by making the Heroku Connect Demo Edition free for developers. I know! How awesome is that! Heroku Connect is an add-on that synchronizes data between a Heroku Postgres database and your Salesforce org. This allows developers to build apps using any Heroku supported language utilizing their normal workflows. They simpy interact with Postgres as they normally would and the data is sync'd with Salesforce behind the scenes. I'm a big fan of Heroku Connect and think it's the best way to build customer facing apps with Heroku and Salesforce.
I know that Salesforce1 Lightning is the talk of the town right now, but 2015 continutes to be the "year of Salesforce1", in one way or another. The Spring 15 release is chock-full of enhancements and new features for mobile development. Even if you lack Android and/or iOS dev skills, it's almost laughably easy to develop mobile apps for Saleforce1. You can use "clicks" to build rich, power user experiences or expose Visualforce pages to do all kinds of "fancy" stuff. Your boss will think it took you all week to build that shiny new mobile app when in actuality it was only a few hours. #bonus-time
However, if you are looking to create mobile apps that interact with the Salesforce1 platform there are mobile SDKs for native, hybrid and HTML5 apps that do the heavy lifting for you. Saleforce recently announced CocoaPods support so you can now use CocoaPods to merge Mobile SDK modules into your existing iOS apps. Earlier this month they also released a new version of the Mobile SDK with features such as SmartSync API for native and hybrid apps, multiple build systems for native apps, enhanced enterprise authentication and more. If you aren't building with the S1 platform, make a point to do so this year.
Flow has been around for awhile, getting better and better with each release, however it's lately become very interesting to me. Brian Kwong has a great post on building headless flows which allows you to kick off Flows via Apex! The new Lightning Process Builder takes this a step further by allowing anyone to build enterprise workflows and visually automate complex processes in just a few clicks. Will this replace headless flows? No, but it will make it easier to build Flows as some of the Apex needed for actions will be baked into the platform. I highly recommend you start looking at Flows if you haven't done so already.
The Customer and Parter Portal technologies have been the mainstay for Saleforce for a number of years. Let's be honest... they were becoming tired. Luckily over the last couple of releases Salesforce started to unveil it's new Customer and Partner Communities to completely revamp the way we interact socially. However, until Spring 15, Communities wasn't really ready for primetime. Now it's been released as the Community Cloud with a ton of features including a community builder, management console, template builder, analytics, content moderation and more baked into the heart of your org. Communities are social by design, hooked into Chatter and look great on mobile devices.
You can expect to see an explosion in the number of projects to convert existing portals to communities so be ready. There will be plenty of development work to go around so start spinning up test communities now!
So those are the 5 skills I think will be important for 2015? Are there any that I missed?
When you are ready to start learning, head over to Salesforce Trailhead and get started.