Salesforce Developer Spotlight: Eric Bell

This is the second in a new series of posts that will spotlight one Developer who has successfully transitioned to Salesforce. The people in these posts were interviewed in order to share their transition experiences with other developers. This information was used as part of a Dreamforce 2014 session titled, “Career Strategies for Developers Transitioning to Salesforce“.

EricBellEric Bell, Polymorph Corporation

Eric has a broad range of experience working with systems for .NET, Windows, Java, Linux, front-end, back-end, database, etc. In 2002, he published “Fundamentals of Web Applications Using .NET and XML“. Even though he had focused primarily on .NET technologies with his start-up company, he recently decided to embrace the platform head-on. Here is the rest of my interview with him:

What was your main transition approach, or was your transition very sudden?

 I was asked to take a few days and learn what I could about SF. After those few days we (team of 4) planned our approach. We were thrown into the deep end of the pool and failure to swim was not an option.

 Did you pursue any certifications? Did you take any online or in-person classes? What other types of training did you do to learn about Salesforce?

 For that and then two ensuing projects I learned on the job using Google and SF as my principle means to find out how to work SF, what best practices were and where the bodies were buried and there are always bodies buried.

 I pursued a cert only last year for it’s “check the box” cache. I’m going for the advanced dev cert at this Dreamforce (and yes, I’m coming).

 I’ve had no formal training and after speaking with other who have know it can be valuable. But my background in development and development practices carried me very far quickly. In a way that’s just part of my job.

What are some of your favorite online resources for learning? Do you have any favorite blogs that you follow?

My online resources are centered around search engines leading me to blogs, articles other floating on the net coupled with the SF sites themselves. As to favorite bloggers I don’t have any that I read regularly. However,

Did you get any advice from other developers and if so what was the most helpful?

Actually I know an admin who has more technical architecture knowledge of SF than anyone other that I met so far. From him it’s little things that I’ve learned and put into practice that have help enormously in the the last year.

I have other developers that I know and sometimes ask for help but even with advanced knowledge most are unable to think creatively enough to help me. More by rote than inspired thinking.

What are you doing now and how did everything you do prepare you for it?

I continue to consult but now split my time between SF and digital marketing (fixing website funnels, primarily). As to SF having years of experience in software development was my preparation. In SF I mainly do physical integrations – “take these three web services and marry them with SF to build a bigger animal”.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently in your transition approach?

Nothing. I like the challenge diving into the deep end of the pool.

Anything else you want to add that you think would be helpful to developers transitioning?

I thought about this question and realize that there is a lot of advice I can give on a situational basis. Front end guys, back end guys, DB guys, analyst guys, (I can almost hear the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle as I write this).

But the one thing I know to be true having seen first hand the problem newbie developers run into is just being on a project, with goals and doing it. As in everything else execution is critical. Newbies will make many, many mistakes but it in the actual doing it that they have the best chance of learning, improving and mastering. They need someone with experience to review their work and make improvement suggestions. This is the only thing that counts in the end – doing it.

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