Sunday 18 November 2018

Wrapping the Salesforce CLI

Wrapping the Salesforce CLI



(This post is aimed at beginners to the command line and scripting - all of the examples in this post are for MacOS)

Anyone who has read my blog or attended my recent talks at the London Salesforce Developers or Dreamforce will know I’m a big fan of the Salesforce CLI. I use it for pretty much everything I do around metadata and testing on Salesforce, and increasingly for things that don’t involve directly interacting with Salesforce. I think everyone should use it, but I also realise that not everyone is that comfortable with the command line, especially if their career didn’t start with it!

The range of commands and number of options can be daunting, for example to deploy local metadata to production and execute local tests, waiting for up to 2 minutes for the command to complete:

sfdx force:mdapi:deploy -d src -w 2 -u keir.bowden@sfdx.deploy -l RunLocalTests

If you are a developer chances are you’ll be executing commands like this fairly regularly, but for infrequent use, it’s quite a bit to remember. If you have colleagues that need to do this, consider creating a wrapper script so that they don’t have to care about the detail.

Wrapper Script

A wrapper script typically encapsulates a command and a set of parameters,  simplifying the invocation and easing the burden of remembering the correct sequence.A wrapper script for the Salesforce CLI can be written in any language that supports executing commands - I find that the easiest to get started with is bash, as it’s built in to MacOS.

A Bash wrapper script to simplify the deploy command is as follows:


echo "Deploying to production as user $1"

sfdx force:mdapi:deploy -d src -w 2 -u $1 -l RunLocalTests

Taking the script a line at a time:


This is known as a shebang - it tells the interpreter to execute the '/bin/bash' command, passing the wrapper script as a parameter.

echo "Deploying to production as user $1"

This outputs a message to the user, telling them the action that is about to be taken. The ‘$’ character access the positional parameters, or arguments, passed to the script. ‘$0' is set to the name that the script is executed with, '$1' is the first argument, ‘$2' the second and so on. The script expects the ‘targetusername' for the deployment to be passed as the first argument, and wastes no time checking if this is the case or not :)

sfdx force:mdapi:deploy -d src -w 2 -u $1 -l RunLocalTests

This executes the embedded Salesforce CLI command, once again accessing the parameter at position 1 via ‘$1' to set the ‘targetusername’ of the command.

Executing the Wrapper Script

The script assumes it is being executed from the project directory (the parent directory of src), so I’ve put it there, named as ‘deployprod’.

To execute the script, I type ‘./deployprod’ in the terminal - the ‘./‘ prefix simply tells the interpreter that the command is located in the local directory.

Attempting to execute the script after I create it shows there is still some work to do:

> ./deployprod keir.bowden@sfdx.deploy
-bash: ./deployprod: Permission denied

In order to allow the wrapper script to be as a command, I need to make it executable, via the chmod command:

> chmod +x deployprod

Re-running the command then produces the expected output:

> ./deployprod keir.bowden@sfdx.deploy

Deploying to production as user keir.bowden@sfdx.deploy
2884 bytes written to /var/folders/tn/q5mzq6n53blbszymdmtqkflc0000gs/T/ using 60.938ms
Deploying /var/folders/tn/q5mzq6n53blbszymdmtqkflc0000gs/T/


So in future, when the user wants to deploy to production, they simply type:

./deployprod keir.bowden@sfdx.deploy

rather than

sfdx force:mdapi:deploy -d src -w 2 -u keir.bowden@sfdx.deploy -l RunLocalTests

which is a lot less for them to remember and removes any chance that they might specify the wrong value for the -d or -l switches.

Of course there is always the chance that my Evil Co-Worker will update the script for nefarious purposes (to carry out destructive changes, for example) and the user will be none the wiser unless they inspect the output in detail (which they never will unless they see an error trust me), but the risk of this can be mitigated by teaching users good security practices around allowing access to their machines. And reminding them regularly of the presence of the many other evil people that they don’t happen to work with.

All Bash, all the time?

I  created the original command line tools on top of the Force CLI  for deployment of our BrightMedia appcelerator using Bash, and it allowed us to get big quick. However, there were a couple of issues:

  1. Only I knew how to write  bash scripts
  2. Bash isn’t the greatest language for carrying out complex business logic
  3. When the Salesforce CLI came along I wanted to parse the resulting JSON output, and that is quite a struggle in Bash.

Point 1 may or may not be an issue in your organisation, though I’d wager that you won’t find a lot of bash scripting experience outside of devops teams these days. Points 2 and 3 are more important - if you think you’ll be doing more than simple commands (or blogs about those simple commands!) then my advice would be to write your scripts in Node JS. You’ll need to be comfortable writing JavaScript, and you have to do a bit more in terms of installation, but in the long run you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more.

Bash does allow you to get somewhat complex quite quickly, so you’ll likely be some way down the wrong path when you realise it - don’t be tempted to press on. The attitude that “we’ve invested so much in doing the wrong thing that we have to see it through” never pays off!


Monday 5 November 2018

Situational Awareness



This is the eighth post in my ‘Building my own Learning System” series, in which I finally get to implement one of the features that started me down this path in the first place - the “Available Training” component.

The available training component has situational awareness to allow it to do it’s job properly. Per Wikipedia, ituational awareness comprises three elements:

  • Perception of the elements in the environment - who the user is and where they are an application
  • Comprehension of the situation - what they are trying to do and what training they have taken
  • Projection of future status - if there is more training available they will be able to do a better job

Thus rather than telling the user that there is training available, regardless of whether they have already completed it, this component tells the user that there is training, how much of it they have completed, and gives them a simple way to continue. Push versus pull if you will.

Training System V2.0

Some aspects were already in place in V1 of the training system - I know who the user is based on their email address, for example, However, I only knew what training they had taken for the current endpoint so some work was required there. Polling all the endpoints to find out information seemed like something that could be useful to the user, which lead to sidebar search. Sidebar search allows the user to enter terms and search for paths or topics containing those terms across all endpoints:

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 15 47 18

Crucially the search doesn’t just pull back the matching paths. it also includes information about the progress of the currently logged in user for those paths - in this case, like so much of my life, I’ve achieved nothing:

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 15 47 24

In order to use this search, the available training component needs to know what the user is trying to do within the app. It’s a bit of a stretch for it to work this out itself, so it takes a topic attribute. 

I also want the user to have a simple mechanism to access the training that they haven’t taken, so the available training component also takes an attribute of there URL of a page containing the training single page application. 


Hopefully everyone read this in the voice of Jools from Pulp Fiction, otherwise the fact that there’s only a single example means it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

An example of using the new component is from my BrightMedia dev org. It’s configured in the order booking page as follows:

<c:TrainingAvailable modalVisible="{!v.showTraining}" 
    topic="Order Booking" />

where trainingSPAURL is the location of the single page application.

Also in my booking page I have an info button (far right): 

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 16 12 45

clicking this toggles the training available modal:

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 16 15 10


Which shows that there are a couple of paths that I haven’t started. Clicking the ‘Open Training’ button takes me to the training page with the relevant paths pre-loaded:

Screen Shot 2018 11 05 at 16 15 24

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