Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The New Lightning Experience, in New Trailhead modules!

As the new Lightning Experience begins to make bigger and bigger waves through the IT community, you know there is always going to be one piece of the platform way ahead of the game... Trailhead. No sooner had the Lightning Experience been announced, than they were announcing new modules, new points and new badges to be earnt - along with the kind of high quality, test-assured knowledge that Trailhead has become reknown for.

So with the introduction of three new super modules, it seemed kind of obvious which one I would throw myself at first.

Developer Trail - Lightning Experience ?

Admin Trail - Starting with Lightning Experience ?

Admin Trail - Migrating to Lightning Experience  ?

I'm going head first into the developer module. Though it must be noted I will absolutely continue on to complete the admin modules too, as it's all super relevant information.

Actually, the most exciting bit about these modules is.. they (currently) have a safe harbour statement.

You don't get much more wild than that, we really are trekkin' into unexplored territory. I best get my Trailblazer armour on in case we encounter any wild bugs.

So now I'm fully kitted out, lets do this module!

(by the way, if you think this post is long, it really did take me the full 8+ hours to work through this module. We ain't kidding around no more).

Starting with "Getting Started with the Salesforce Lightning Experience" - this is very much a module for totally new entrants to Salesforce, so I won't lie - I skimmed it a little bit, but even I was forced to stop every now and then and just absorb the screenshots of the new interface. It's really exciting taking in all the new buttons, layouts and "curvey borders" the Lightning Experience is bringing to the Salesforce front end.

Time for a test now though, not too challenging on this introduction module, but a couple of options that will make you smile.. such as what is the difference between Lightning and Classic: "One makes you shockingly productive, while the other remains classically amazing." - I personally think this is technically true, so chew that over when you are picking your option on the test!

Anyway, I nailed my 100 points. Obviously...

(I love how people actually tweet these boxes! #SoProud)

The next chapter "Deciding If Lightning Experience Is Right for You" is actually a really interesting for myself, as a developer on many different client orgs. This is a huge question for every developer, and every business currently on Salesforce. Of course, there is going to come a time when the Lightning Experience will have to be right for you, but at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, this is a decision you need to make yourself. If you want to know the pros-and-cons of the switch in a nice, concise (mostly tabular) format.. this module will teach you a lot of what you need to know. Issues such as Reports, Javascript and what will happen to your Visualforce and Apex are all accounted for here.

Once you have digested all the information, prove yourself once again with a quick exam at the bottom of the module. Remember, on the final question for adoption, you are looking for the RIGHT answer - not the one that will almost certainly happen in most businesses (confetti optional).

The final chapter of the developer track Introduction to Lightning Experience is how you actually enable it. Assuming the previous modules made you suitably excited, you'll need to know how to get your hands on it, and also the limitations (and incredible powers) you have regarding its roll out.

Preparing your org, and using the switcher is going to be a hectic day in anyones office, so being best prepared with the knowledge (and the gotchas) is going to be a good idea. Read this chapter carefully, pass the 2 question exam - and prepare the fanfare:

!!! BADGES !!!

And that, ladies and gentlemen is how we pass the basic module! We now know what Lightning Experience is, whether it is right for us, and if so, how to turn it on.

But the fun doesn't end there!

Next up,  Lightning Experience Development. I'm going to throw in right at the top of this chapter... that things get serious from here on in. No more joke answers about Windows 10 or Confetti, so put those reading glasses on and get learning fast. Just to prove this fact (and I did this just for you, reader)...

I got completely flumoxed by the first test and made a right mess of it.


I don't even know why they put "Who hoo" on the 25 point DIV... *grump*

Moving through the Development module, you encounter a great (and honest) list of "what does work" and "what doesn't work". Salesforce have been really good here, putting their hand up when needed to admit some features are missing in this early release, and other areas where they have made technical descisions to cut access to client and server side features we may have previously depended on.. like access to the page global Window properites in Javascript - in favour of native Lightning library commands.

Next, we encounter Lighning Components - and their distinction from the Lightning Experience, before moving onto ISVs and Packaging, in which I think there is an interesting double negative hurdle in one of the test questions (but I am a part time Grammar Policeman).

The last chapter in this modle is Understanding the Changes to the other development tools (note, this is not about IDEs like I thought!) This module covers all the other considerations you didn't even realise you hadn't thought about - like existing packages, Apex API versions and so on. Upon completion of this module. You are a bad ass development ready Lightning brain.

The third module, is Using Visualforce in the Lightning Experience.There is a really curious question in the test for the first chapter in module, so pay attention to the material, and do a lot of scrolling up and down as you consider you answers! These modules really take you deep into the nuances of developing Visualforce in the new Lightning Experience. You thought you knew it all? Think again! I dropped points again on this chapter due to a (perhaps) cocky approach to the tests. Come on Simon, knuckle down!

Luckily for me, the next chapter on sharing the UX between the different experiences was fairly concise, and the questions directly (and with no double negatives!) related to the material. I'm back on the 100 points bus. Here, I found it interesting to learn that the UX a user has in their settings might also/still be affected by what browser (specifically, old browsers) they are using. Worth noting on that first support call to a government agent complaining their IE 4.0 "Lightning Experience" is a little more like drizzle.

The Navigating chapter tells us all about how we can move users about in the new UX. This chapter had my favourite pairing of questions - as the options were the same, making you directly realise the difference between the two modes, and also immediatly see the overlapping technology in the options applicable to both.

I blitzed through the last two modules on design considerations (which I genuinly always enjoy) and the intreging "Features to avoid" module, which very honestly highlights the problems with certain related lists, Javascript functions and Visualforce customisations that we may be used to, but that don't play nice with the Lightning Experience.

Time for another badge though! I can now use Visualforce in the Lightning Experience.

Are you still with me here? You're doing well!

The fourth module is a daunting 9 chapter one, estimated at 4 hours work - It's Lightning Components..This module has been around for a little while now, in the other Tracks, but it finally now has context! This is also where we are really getting into the guts of developing in the new Lightning world. The is also the end of the Multiple Choice tests, and now you are forced to connect you developer edition and actually make this stuff happen! By the end of this module, you can actually say "I have made a Lightning Component". You can lean back, be proud, and stick that badge on your chest like the medal it is, because everyone loves Lego™!!

As you stride into the fifth, and final module of this Trail, The Lightning Design System you might feel a little sad, but you probably feel more exhausted than anything else..  fear not though, the finish line is in sight. Here we introduce best practises for designing, and also examine how Salesforce bakes accesibility and responsive design into the component structure without you lifting a finger. We also look into BEM - and this is one of the few times I've actually been off and done the associated reading too - to find out about the cool CSS architecture that has been adopted.

Next we move onto Grids - and some terminology and design patterns that date back to the start of Computer Science itself, there is a reason these ideas have done so well though, so take your time to learn the basics of component layout work here.

By now your eyes are fully in code-reading mode, and that's good, because it's getting geekier and geekier in these modules, take a peak at the middle of the Salesforce Data chapter to see what I mean...

Ophh! Time to book that eye check ;)

What we are looking at here though is the new Salesforce data integration code though. What good is a sexy component if it can't interact with your Salesforce data?

The penultimate module is on introducing graphics and rich media into your components, and we even get to have a dig at Internet Explorer (oops, I may have given a hint to one of the answers there...). It's also nice to see that the author went that extra mile with their test data for the screen shots... I think I remember this account from the Developer Edition standard data records.

The final chapter, titled Laying out a Record Home Page and Using Advanced Components and with nothing less than a heading of "The Grand Finale" provides exactly what one would expect of such an EPIC trailhead module. It leads you down bringing all of the component work you have done over the last few hours (few, ha!) and you finally build a full and complete record home page for your Account objects. Look at it, beautiful:

Two more questions and you are done! Take that module badge with pride, go and tell your boss you are now a fully experienced "Lightning Component Developer", put it in your family newsletter, or even better - go get a tattoo*. (now that would be a first!)

If you really made it all the way to the end - drop me a tweet @srlawr - and I will give you an awesome shout out for your efforts!!

* don't get a tattoo...


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