Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking to Kevin Poorman, a Salesforce Developer Evangelist, to find out how Admins and Devs can work together more productively to build great apps.
More about this Insights session: tips for Admins working with Devs, why every conversation needs to be centered on the users first, how to decide between declarative and programmatic solution, and tips for when you first start with a Developer.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kevin Poorman and Gillian Bruce.
A Developer and Admin collaboration for life
Kevin is a particularly great guest to talk to about working with Salesforce Admins because his wife, Stephanie, is one. “The two of us work together in a nonprofit org called Pets for Patriots,” Kevin says, which helps veterans and current military personnel adopt companion pets from shelters. There’s a lot that comes up when you’re helping a nonprofit, “Everything from year-end reporting to custom processes and Apex work that has to be done, so my wife and I live out this Admin and Developer relationship pretty much every day. We do everything but manage our household in Salesforce.”
When Kevin thinks about how he and Stephanie work together, the key thing is that “we have to keep our users first and foremost in our mind.” Despite their many diverse talents, not every Pets for Patriots employee is particularly tech savvy, “so keeping things simple has got to be at the center of what we’re doing.” Whenever they run into a problem, Kevin says, “we have to not only come up with a solution that works but a solution that works for our users.”
Deciding between code and declarative solutions
One of the keys to working together as an Admin and Dev pair is to solution things together. For Kevin, it starts with a simple question: “Is there a clean declarative way of solving this problem?” It can be a hard question to answer because there are lots of things you can do in a declarative way that aren’t necessarily simple or easy to maintain.
Maintenance is super important because you’re not always going to be around forever. While you don’t need to know code in order to manage declarative solutions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to maintain. A classic example would be choosing between process builder, workflow rules, or a trigger. “That question can almost always be solved with process builder,” Kevin says, “but sometimes writing it as a trigger is beneficial.” If you’ve inherited an org with existing triggers, for example, it makes sense to put all of the logic in a trigger, but other times you’ll want to handle it in a process.
When you’re thinking about flows versus verses Visualforce or Lightning components for something like a wizard, the decision between who should build something come to the forefront. Kevin’s wife will want to solve it with a flow, but Kevin will be thinking about using Visualforce or Lightning Components. “To be honest with you, I don’t always know why because flow is often the cleaner way of doing it,” Kevin says, “I think it’s just my ingrained developer-ness.”
The amazing power of Lightning Out
Gillian put a question to Kevin that should be on the front of every Admin’s mind when working with Devs, “What is a Lightning Component that isn’t built yet but should be a standard component?” Kevin slightly twists the question to focus on Lightning Out, which he’d want to use to build a Gmail plugin that brought bits and pieces of Lightning and Records into Gmail.
Imagine a side panel where, when you open an email from someone @company.com, and it shows the company.com account and their contact on the sidebar through Lightning and you had a component there that would let you update or edit the account record from there. “Lightning Out is my favorite under-utilized portion of Lightning,” Kevin says, “it gives you the ability to load Lightning components and apps external to Salesforce.” You can do things like put a lead component on your website that will go straight into the org, instead of web-to-lead.
A tip for starting with a new Dev
For Admins that are just beginning to cultivate their relationship with their developer, Kevin has a big tip: ask to do code reviews with them. “As you’re starting to with a developer, ask if you can do code reviews of the code that they’re writing so you have an understanding or how it’s happening and how it works,” he says. That lets you start a conversation about solutioning, and really have that back and forth about which things you should do declaratively and which should be solved with code.
- Developer Beginner Trail
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