Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 Year in Review - Part 1


January

2020 started quietly, like any other. The first London meetup was Einstein Analytics where the number of people doing dry January meant that there was more than enough booze to for the rest of us. The following day was the London Salesforce Developers, where 60 odd people headed over to PWC's offices to hear about Heroku and the Spring 21 release of Salesforce. London's Calling needed bios and headshots, and tickets were selling like hotcakes. 

There were also reports of a virus in the Wuhan province of China that was highly contagious - this didn't feel like something we had to worry about as (a) it was a long way away and (b) we'd seen this kind of thing before with SARS, swine flu and bird flu in the past. Towards the end of the month there were a few cases in other countries, but easily explained through international travel. On the last day of the month the UK recorded it's first case, along with fellow European countries Sweden and Spain. Again, very much a case of someone bringing it with them on holiday and easily contained.

February

Two meetups for the Developers in February. First a fireside chat with Wade Wegner at Salesforce Tower on 5th, talking about Evergreen (now Salesforce Functions) and more. Little did we know this would be the last trip to the tower of 2020.  Then on 12th we had our Dreamforce Global Gathering at Deloitte's offices in Clerkenwell Green. Little did we know (2) that this would be the last time we would meet in person. 

Spring 20 went live and I presented a release webinar with my colleague Clive Platt. Little did we know ... you get the picture. This brought the new mobile app to all users, and introduced the WITH SECURITY_ENFORCED SOQL clause and the Security.stripInaccessible() method to bolster security in Apex. What a time to be alive!

The COVID-19 virus was still around  - by Feb 6 there were 30 odd cases in Europe which led me to mention it when sending my London's Calling slide deck - a throwaway remark hoping that it didn't derail us. It still seemed a very low risk, and likely something that would level out quickly - in the UK we only had a couple of cases. Fast forward to the end of the month and we still had under 20 cases Looking over to Europe, the case count in Italy was rapidly increasing. Around this time things started to change as we realised that it was likely to be problematic, although human nature still made us expect that things wouldn't be too bad. At BrightGen we started planning for how we'd shift most/all of our workforce to remote, with a dry run day scheduled for March.

March

The London Salesforce Developers decided not to hold a meetup in March, as the London's Calling community conference was taking place and that typically consumes most of the community's energy. At BrightGen we'd had our dry run day in early March with everyone working from home and it had been pretty straightforward. Which was handy as we went completely remote the following week, although with offices still open for the odd face to face meeting. 

The Salesforce World Tour London, due the third Thursday in May, was postponed. By the end of the month TrailheaDX had gone virtual and become a half day or so event. 

As everywhere started to shut down, or operate at a much reduced capacity, I had to make a trip to a testing centre in Stratford to take my JavaScript Developer 1 exam. After a weird journey where I shared a whole carriage with about 10 other people in rush hour, I arrived at a deserted Stratford that would usually be bustling. I had an hour to spare in a ghost town where not much was open and there was nowhere for a casual visitor to sit inside with a coffee and carry out some last minute revision. So I wandered the streets while reviewing my notes and did my best to avoid going within 6 feet of anyone else. After the test I headed back home on a carriage with about 8 other people, as the London's Calling speaker drinks scheduled for that evening had been cancelled due to the ever increasing virus.

London's Calling had tried to stay in-person, but eventually gave up the battle and went all remote, with the exception of a few speakers, including myself. This involved another trip to London, this time sharing the carriage with 5 other people and arriving at an eerily quiet Liverpool Street, which typically resembles the zombie apocalypse at that time of the morning. A strange day then commenced of a group of speakers shuffling from one room to another to support each other, moving the chairs into corners of the room and generally avoiding each other while trying to network with each other. I personally had the pleasure of presenting to the cavernous and almost totally empty keynote room - this was actually a great experience as I had to still give my best even in the absence of an audience and in a somewhat uncomfortable environment. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I'm not sure the organisers would agree though, having pivoted from an in person to virtual event at a few days notice, and spending a lot of the day finding out the limitations of the various livestream event platforms! 

After a happy hour involving a live band and highly distanced drinks and dancing, I headed home sharing the carriage with 3 other people, wondering how long the trains would continue to run with so few passengers. This was also the last day that the pubs were allowed to open, in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, and they were packed both inside and out until closing time. It didn't seem like this was going to help much, and it didn't. A mere three days later we were locked down and only allowed out for an hour's exercise a day.

I'd been asked to present at the Finland Developer Group on 25th March. It was always going to be remote, but as I was preparing my talk it started to feel like a vision of my future. Short term future, though, which turned out to be all kinds of wrong!

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