Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Head for the New Trails

Head for the New Trails

Screen Shot 2015 02 03 at 17 57 15

Trailhead was launched at the Dreamforce 14 Developer keynote, and the contact has remained fairly static for the last couple of months. That all changed today with the launch of two new modules and enhancements to a number of existing challenges. In my usual selfless fashion I dived in and completed the new modules and updated challenges, so that my readers would be fully prepared to tackle them.

New Module - Data Security

The Data Security module is part of the Getting Started with the Force.com Platform trail. To my mind there are two aspects to this topic :

  • Making sure that users only see the records they need to do their job. In other words, protecting data from unauthorised or unnecessary access.
  • Making sure that users can see the records they need to do their job. Locking things down too tightly often results in duplicate records, as users don’t have access to the record that already exists.

In my experience this is one of the more difficult concepts for users, administrators and developers to grasp. Its also key, especially if you are planning to attempt any of the Salesforce certifications - understanding how to lock down and open up access to data forms part of every certification, from Administrator through to Technical Architect. A good understanding of the concepts will stand you in good stead for years to come.

New Module - Change Management

The Change Management module is part of the Intro to Visual App Development trail and covers both the processes and available tools for managing change in your Salesforce instance. Whether you are an administrator/developer for an end user or a consultant, this is an important topic to master. Defending your production instance from configuration or code that has not been fully thought through or tested will save you a lot of grief and rework in the long run, and your users will be grateful for a solid environment to work in.

Enhanced Challenges

When Trailhead originally launched, a number of challenges consisted of confirming that you had read and understood the information presented for 100 points. While there’s nothing particularly wrong with this, it does lead to easy points and is a little open to abuse. In the latest iteration these challenges have been upgraded to 500 points, but also require you to carry out configuration or development in your trailhead developer edition:

  • Visualforce Basics - these challenges now require you to build functioning Visualforce pages tied to data in your developer edition
  • Apex Testing - these challenges now require you to build working unit tests to cover code provided by the challenge. I’m particularly pleased to see this, as testing is still something that seems to confuse or scare a lot of people, judging by the cries for “help me write the test class” on the discussion boards and stack exchange

New Challenge Type

The final enhancement on the challenges front is a new type of challenge - multiple choice questions at the end of the module step to ensure you fully understand the concepts. The points on offer drop each time you try the questions and fail, and my advice would be to read the questions properly! I dropped a few points through missing the key word in a question.

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