Monday, January 23, 2017

[Salesforce / Git] git commit -m "Salesforce"

Why Salesforce developers and admins should use Git and some of the best tools to help you do so.

I'm opening this (hopefully) wonderful 2017 with a guest post about a subject I really love, that is Version Control in Salesforce.

Alex Brausewetter of Blue Canvas contributed this guest post. He is a founder of Blue Canvas - a company that makes version control and CI solutions for Salesforce developers and admins. Prior to starting Blue Canvas Alex built the Salesforce integration for Cloud9 IDE.

A Brief History of Git

Software development changed forever on a humble weekend in April 2005. Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, was getting annoyed with his the version control system he was using to work on the Linux kernel. They were using a proprietary source control management (SCM) system call Bitkeeper. Legend has it that the notoriously caustic Torvalds and the commercial company that owned Bitkeeper started feuding that spring. Eventually, Torvalds knew he could do a better job himself and went off for a marathon coding session in which he built an entirely new version control system. He named the tool Git after himself (“git” is apparently British slang for an unpleasant person).

Git didn’t catch on right away though. It took until the founding of GitHub in 2008 before it really took off. GitHub provided added value on top of Git because it created a hosted service and user interface that made Git much more accessible. The company was founded in 2008. One year later over 46,000 public repos were hosted on GitHub.

Why Developers Love Git

Today, Git isn’t just for open source projects though. Major enterprises use it regularly.

Software developers in large and small companies love Git because it’s a unique and simple source control system.

Git is very fast - it was written in C - a low level language that can move extremely quickly. Unlike previous version control systems, Git also allows you to work offline. It’s also fully distributed so no one server hosts the code.

Git and Salesforce

Probably the most popular thing about Git though is it’s collaboration tools. And it is these tools which make Git the ideal version control system for Salesforce.

Salesforce is one of the world’s great software development platforms. There is so much you can do with the platform. And you don’t have to be a traditional developer to make great applications with Salesforce. So many people can be involved with a Salesforce project: developers, Awesome Admins, business analysts, product managers, sales ops managers and so many other diverse types of roles can work together to create great applications with

Git is a great tool for helping all of these diverse groups collaborate on a code base. It prevents developers from overwriting each other’s work and handles merge conflicts. With Git you can do code reviews and have a picture of who has changed what at all times. You can even use “git blame” to see the specific ways in which a file has changed over time. Who wrote this line of code and when? It’s extremely useful for debugging.

Git also unlocks the power of CI for Salesforce developers. Git facilitates the kind of best practices that make you feel comfortable pushing code to production more frequently. This is good for users because they are getting new features more quickly. It’s also great for hiring developers because developers love seeing their work live in production as soon as possible.

Tools for Using Git

That said, Git can be challenging to use. Here are some of the best tools that make it easier to use.


SourceTree is a free tool from Atlassian that acts as a graphical user interface (GUI) for Git. Most of the time developers use Git on the command line. But many Git commands can be cumbersome and repetitive or even unintuitive. SourceTree cuts through all of that by providing a simple interface for Git commands. It allows you to push, pull, merge, fetch, clone, rebase and so many other Git commands through a simple, well-designed interface. Oh and did we mention it’s free? Many Salesforce developers are already leveraging SourceTree today to make their Git experience smoother.

GitHub, GitLab and Bitbucket: Hosted Git Services

Today it’s not uncommon to hear about GitHub before you even hear about Git itself. That’s because hosted Git solutions provide such an intuitive and wonderful way to leverage the collaborative benefits of Git. GitHub, Bitbucket and GitLab are all great tools. All provide added features like Pull Requests and commenting, as well as save you the trouble of having to host and maintain your own Git server. Which service you prefer is a matter of personal preference but all are worth looking at. GitLab and Bitbucket both also offer CI services which can be useful for Salesforce teams looking to automate their deployment pipeline.

SCM Breeze

SCM Breeze is a lesser known tool but it’s really nice. SCM Breeze is essentially a series of command line aliases for Git which make typing commands much faster and simpler. Instead of typing “git commit -m ‘my commit message’” you can simply type “gc -m ‘my commit message”.

Even better, when you are adding files you can simply type “gs” for “git status” and see a list of all files which have changed since your last commit. And instead of typing “git add ” for each file, you can for example type “ga 1-10” and it will stage all ten of your files for commit. You can even cherry pick files by typing “ga 1-4” and “ga 6” and “ga 9” for example.

Blue Canvas

Finally, there is Blue Canvas: a hosted Git implementation designed specifically for the Salesforce platform. Blue Canvas is version control for Salesforce. It automatically picks up changes that are made on your Orgs and commits them into Git. It will even pick up declarative changes so no one needs to learn Git on the command line if they don’t want to. Everything is synced in Git in real time. Developers can access their code base and refresh their local environments using “git pull”. To learn more check out:

Monday, January 16, 2017

[Salesforce / Lightning] Of the #Lightning afraid be not!

I was introduced to the Lightning world at its very beginning by Jeff Douglas when I was an active member of the Top Coder community.

At that time there were soo few standard components, no way to add a Lightning app / component in a Visualforce Page or easily integrate Lightning with your existing CRM.

Plus it was so hard to make it work, no documentation, no examples, no debugging, but you could feel the beginning of something that would have innovated the platform.

In months the set of components exploded, the posts about Lightning become more and more common, people started sharing their discoveries, trailhead modules were added and the Lightning Design System allowed developers to give their apps the right look and feel.

So what do you need to finally become an expert of this awesome technology?

If you are completely unaware of what Lightning is, start with the Lightning Tralihead Modules:

Once you have a good overview on the technology I suggest to fall into the official lightning guide (always up to date): here you will find everything about the framework.

This is were I first learnt all, well written, easy to understand, covers the whole framework...and it's free!

Have also a look to the Lightning Design System official site: I suggest you to use this library to make your components as much "Salesforcish" as possibile for a perfect UI experience.

Feeling an expert now?

The next step is to develop something unique and amazing with your new set of skills.

I've written in the past years a couple of custom Lightning components (browse here), and this is the good way to master the technology: pick a use case (it can be even a simple component like a progress bar or a related list component) and try to port it in Lightning using the Lightning Design System.

At first you'll feel a bit uncomfortable but as long as you keep coding you'll get more and more confidence with the framework and learn more and more tricks, understanding a new way of developing in your CRM.

Don't be afraid, you'll never get bored of it, I'll just get in love with it and appreciate a new and different way to think code.

If you've never developed in Javascript you can be a bit puzzled at the beginning, but I guarantee this new way of developing in the platform will increase your programming skills to a new level.

This does not mean you'll forget all about Visualforce, some customers still don't use Lightning so the marriage Visualforce + Apex will continue for years, but even if you won't have any chance to use Lightning with a customer's project, there is no reason you should not start learning and mastering it!

Next step?

Open your Tralihead account and start learning Lightning, you won't regret it ! (MVPs never lie!)