TCG App visits the LAUG

Oh my, that was a blast! Last night I was allowed to run a data model design session at the London Admins’ Trailblazer Community group, and I for one think it was a great success. The idea of the session was to give a brief introduction to the TCG (Trailblazer Community Group) App and then chair a group discussion on how a data model might evolve from the requirements (and assumptions), and I can just say it far exceeded my expectations.

We walked through the various factors that go into making decisions around forming a data model, and how in some instances there isn’t one-clear right answer. We spoke about lookup vs master-detail relationships, chatted through reporting restrictions, mulled over standard vs custom objects, and spent quite some time going over the use of junction objects.

I do hope the session brought some value to the attendees, as I for one made many notes on things to read-up on, and not only in terms of the objects, but also regarding some requirements, and the next steps.

Here, in all their rough glory, are the notes I’ve made.

  • Support for Virtual venue
  • Master -> Detail – restrictions on types/number of relationships based upon object (types)
  • Standard Event – has auto archive rules and other things to be aware of
  • Event types
    • Meetup style
    • Conference
  • Look into campaign standard object – where would/could we use this?
  • Look into OppContactRoles
  • Use of Opportunity instead of EventSponsor
  • Use OppContactRoles to assign Sponsor contact / Venue Contact etc
  • Use of parent accounts; Don’t have a venue, use accounts
  • ACRs – know which contact to need for venue/sponsor (could be same or different)
  • Would let us have a Sponsor (Account) contact also related to a Venue Account
  • Log who (people in the ecosystem) knows about about specific stuff, who CGLs have asked to speak, and about X?
  • What replaces tags? (Gemma: in the Architects Club they have an object for skills) – Poss use NPSP, as they have this – or now topics?
  • Assets library (recordings, decks, etc)
  • Communities access – talk submissions/feedback
  • Think about a single instance for all CGLs to use – would mean one org, but more licenses, can we approach SF about this. Would mean a super-admin, some folk running this
    Would mean sharing available of talks / sponsors / contacts
  • What about the Events mngmt app from Salesforce Labs – more aimed towards conferences?
  • Also been approached about Open Commons from .org… very exciting
  • Next Steps
    • Look into NPSP, feedback from other CGLs on chatter / twitter
    • Rework ERD
    • Perhaps an open vid call to have input from other CGLs
    • Prob should write a V2MOM – perhaps use github wiki for this?
    • Think about KPIs, metrics, and designs

As you can see, I have quite a few next steps… and I’ve also been approached by a few folk in the success community to chat too.

Introducing the Trailblazer Community Group Salesforce App

As a long time leader of the London Developers’ Trailblazer group, and co-organiser of London’s Calling – the annual Salesforce Community Conference held in London – I’m only two aware of the features and benefits of the Salesforce platform (and ecosystem), and it therefore leaves a bitter taste in my mouth every time I open up a spreadsheet or other non-Salesforce tool to perform some management task for these events.

On speaking to other CGLs (community group leaders) I know that the London Developer group isn’t the only one to use a plethora of spreadsheets to help organise themselves, and I also know that a few folk/groups have built their own solutions on the Salesforce platform too. This bespoke and non-Salesforce tool-set only strengthens the bitter taste, especially when a platform like Salesforce is an obvious choice if you wanted to answer the requirements that are put forward CGLs.

And it’s the bitter taste that’s started me on the drive to create a Salesforce app targeted at helping community group leaders and community conference organisers alike in running their events.

I’m really looking forward to getting rid of this bitter taste, hopefully by drinking our own champagne

Tell me more

The vision I have for the app is based upon a few fundamental principles, which I hope promote and facilitate an inclusive and valuable project;

  1. Fully Open – Not just in terms of the finished project (code + declarative) but also in terms of how the project moves forward with regards to decision making, features, discussions etc
  2. Embrace the Platform – The project shall look to highlight the OOTB features and functions of the Salesforce platform (and keep up with it, as much as possible)
  3. Ease of Consumption – Distributed via a managed package(s) so as to reduce barriers of installation and support a known upgrade mechanism along with adhering to a strict backwards compatibility methodology
  4. Best Practices – This means testing all the things and following industry and platform specific best practices.

Where’s the project currently at?

Two answers to this… firstly the project has a github repo and the current thinking is that this can be used to also house documentation, issues etc, and maybe even use github’s discussion feature too.

Secondly, in terms of where the project is regards design/development, the answer is very young. As part of the desire to make this a community project I haven’t really started working on it until I get this post out, and get input from the wider community. As you can see there is a brief requirements listing on the git repo that comes from just my own thoughts, and I welcome github issues or PRs to add/edit this. I’m also wondering about creating a quip doc for this, to reduce any friction for folk who aren’t so familiar with github.

I’m absolutely sure that other CGLs have put together apps on dev orgs and the like, so it’d be great to get some input from them too.

How do I get involved?

If you have thoughts on the project please reach out to me on twitter (@toddhalfpenny) or raise an issue on the git repo.

What’s next?

I’m actually presenting the project as a data-model discussion case study at tonight’s London Admin’s Trailblazer group, where I’ll chat through some of the base requirements I’ve already put together and hopefully provoke some thoughtful conversations about how, and why, a data model in Salesforce might be designed in a particular way. RSVPs for this event are still open.

I’m also in the process of sharing the project within the CGL community to gather thoughts and hopefully expand and refine the project’s v0.0.1 requirements and a road-map going forward.

So yeah… I’m really looking forward to getting rid of this bitter taste, hopefully by drinking our own champagne.

SFignore: Visual Studio Code Extension for .forceignore files

Last week I published another SFDX plugin, sfignore. This plugin is designed to help Salesforce developers with the (ever so slightly pedantic) .forceignore file. And now, to make developers workflow even more seamless I’ve published the SFignore Visual Studio Code extension.

The extension is essentially just a wrapper to the SFDX plugin, and as such installation of SFDX plugin is a pre-requisite.

Screenshot of the vscode SFignore extension in action
vscode SFignore extension

The extension exposes the “Add to forceignore” command to the command palette.

This is my first vscode extension, and I hope you find it useful. It is available in the Visual Studio Code marketplace.

SFignore: The .forceignore Salesforce SFDX Plugin

Salesforce SFDX projects are a great way to build both declaratively and through code for the Salesforce platform. It’s very common to want to ignore particular files from being pushed or pulled between Orgs and your local project, and this is achieved through .forceignore file. The file has some odd (and undocumented) syntax however, and the process is also known to have a few bugs, and getting the right entries in the file can be hard… and that’s where the SFignore SFDX plugin comes in.

The .forceignore file and the process behind it is sprinkled with black magic – Todd Halfpenny, 2020

I’ve created the SFignore plugin initially through an internal need for the work I’ve been doing with the Caddify project at MobileCaddy. A lot of this work has been around using Salesforce 2GP (second generation packaging) tools to create packages for our new product. Our workflow includes pushing, pulling, deploying to many different shape orgs and includes a fair bit of code and metadata that is used solely for non-production scenarios (test setup, demo data, org cleaning, etc) and we want to make sure that nothing accidentally gets put into our managed package releases. The .forceignore file that is used by the SFDX CLI tooling and tracking allows us to do this – or most of it at least… but it’s syntax is nuanced and is lacking in documentation.

The SFignore plugin gives me an easier way to add entries to the .forceignore file, by taking away the guessing of syntax and the need to remember the correct suffixes for the different metadata types. This is useful, as would you know (or remember) if the correct suffix for a SiteDotCom entry should be SiteDotCom, siteDotCom, or site? And what about AppMenu? Would you know whether to use appMenu, AppMenu, Menu, menu? Only one of these is right, and the syntax differs further depending on whether the change is local or remote. Oh you also need to encode (some) special characters too… if you didn’t know that then this could be why your entry for “Custom: Sales Profile.profile” isn’t working as you expected.

The initial release only supports entries for remote changes, and only a subset of metadata types that I’ve had to use so far… but the roadmap for it includes;

  • Support for local syntax
  • Wildcarding – currently only supports specific entries
  • An extension for vscode.

Here’s an example of using the plugin, where we’re wanting to add an entry to ignore pulls for the profile Custom: Sales Profile.

sfdx sfignore:add -n "Custom: Sales Profile" -m Profile

This results in the following entry being added;

Custom%3A Sales Profile.profile

The -m flag specifies the metadata type, and the valid values should match those as seen on Salesforce’s metadata coverage report and the output of a sfdx force:source:status command.

It should also be noted that something’s appear to be impossible to achieve with the .forceignore file, including;

  • Adding some tests – yeah, sorry
  • Specifying specific custom fields
  • Specifying specific custom metadata
  • Specifying specific record types

If you know how to achieve the above I’d be very happy to hear about it.

You can find the source for SFignore SFDX plugin on github, and you can download it from the npm registry too

sfdx plugins:install sfignore

If you use the plugin and need more metadata types added then please raise an issue on github, or even better fork the repo and create a PR.