Tuesday 14 January 2014

Book Review - Developing Applications with Salesforce Chatter

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(Disclaimer - I didn’t purchase this book - I was sent an e-copy to review by Packt Publishing)

This is an interesting idea for a book - Salesforce have been pushing the collaboration theme for a while, but aside from a few short papers and the Salesforce system help, there isn’t a much information out there for those that are considering enabling and extending chatter.

The book suffers from a confused first chapter that can’t make up its mind if it is selling chatter, pushing the benefits of collaboration or demonstrating how the return on investment can be calculated.  Unfortunately it ends up not doing any of them very well and if I were new to chatter I don’t think I’d have a better understanding of what it is or the benefits after reading it.

The chapters on configuring and using chatter are much better - the instructions are clear and there are plenty of examples. One minor criticism is that I’d like to have seen more scenarios that covered why it is better to do things in chatter than using other mechanisms, but that is being picky.

Later sections introduce the concepts of extending chatter functionality using Apex, Visualforce and the Chatter REST API. These sections would benefit from a clearer introduction to the concepts that will be covered.  Batch apex, for example, has a cursory couple of lines to introduce the mechanics when it would do better to either explain the concept and purpose of batch apex and then cover the mechanics, or point the reader at resources where they can learn how batch apex works before continuing.  Again, if I didn’t know batch apex before reading this section I don’t think I’d be in a position to apply the technique to other scenarios.  This might seem a little harsh as the book does state that you need some knowledge of Visualforce and Apex for this chapter, but batch is a somewhat advanced topic which would benefit from a better explanation.

In summary, this is a useful book if you want to learn how to configure and use Chatter, and perform some simple extensions/enhancements using Apex and Visualforce. However, if you want to dig deeper, while this book will give you some ideas, you probably need to be familiar with the language or platform features.

The bool is available at: https://www.packtpub.com/developing-applications-with-salesforce-chatter/book

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