Easy Wins for Salesforce.com

I’ve been working on a Salesforce.com data migration recently and I love it when they improve the platform in subtle yet powerful ways.  My most recent pleasant surprise is the expanded length of “Name” fields.  Names used to be limited to 80 characters, which seemed generous, but still left us with a hack for storing legal names on some objects (tables).

Now Names can be up to 255 characters and it is a great simplifier.  So with joy and gratitude, I’d like to ask Salesforce to do something way easier.  Please enhance the best on-demand report writer and allow us to show/hide totals and grand totals in matrix reports.  This idea has been floating around for years and I can’t imagine it being difficult to implement.

Prototyping Breakthroughs

Today we had a breakthrough on prototyping a new app.  After umpteen hours of notes and ideas and sketches it all came together.  We went from feeling lost in our Wayland office, to having a plan of attack — in one breakthrough hour.

We decided to mock it up (again) in Balsamiq so we could be sure it would work right.  Then we realized that the new thinking is such a great simplifier, that we can mock it up in HTML and Django just as fast.  And we’ll really get a feel for how the app hangs together.

Not sure what created the breakthrough.  Maybe the soak time, a good nights sleep, our track record of great teamwork, who knows.  Stay tuned…we’ll see how it turns out.

The Tools are Good

It’s been awhile since I used a web CMS.  Launching a personal website using a “builder” tool used to be a sign of weakness.  Now with WordPress and all the killer plug-ins, you’d be crazy to hand-stitch a site.

If you’re building interactive web apps, not just marketing sites, you’ll need more than WordPress.  I’ve gotten into Google App Engine, Cloud SQL, and Django as tools of choice.  The GAE stack has been solid the last 12 months building and launching PowerWeek.com.

GAE isn’t the cheapest, but the value is just right — big time stability and scalability, real developer productivity, and no system engineering required.  All for just a small premium over roll-your-own hosting like AWS.