I am officially a Salesforce Advanced Developer!

As Peter Chitum suggests in his well read article, The Path to the Advanced Developer Certification, when you do finally pass this arduous certification process you should, “Say it loud, say it proud“….cert_dev_adv_rgb

So, I am happy to announce that today I was informed that I have Passed the Advanced Developer Assignment and I am officially an Advanced Developer.  YEAH!!!!

It took me one year longer than I expected, but it was very much worth the wait…and all the fuss. Actually, I am glad it was so hard to get. It makes getting it more worthwhile.

Several years ago, I went through both the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) and Microsoft Database Administrator (MCDBA) certification tracks, which were also long and exhausting. But, I have to say that I am a little prouder to have achieved this latest Salesforce certification. Even though the number of exams was less, I felt like the one Advanced Developer exam I did take was much more exhaustive in what it tested. I also was never tested with a programming assignment, which ensured that I followed best practices.

I also have to admit that I spent a lot more than the suggested 20 hours on my assignment (60 hours to be exact), but that is just because it was so important to me that I passed. I agonized over everything and questioned myself a hundred times. Glad I did now. I also dedicated an entire week towards doing it (with no other distractions). I think that helped a lot and I would suggest it to anyone else taking the exam (if you have that option).

Good luck to anyone else working the track. Stick with it and read, read, read…


Salesforce Developer Spotlight: Michael Welburn

This is the third 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“.

Michael Welburn, Developer/Consultant at 7Summits  michaelwelburn

Michael completed the Salesforce Advanced Developer Certification back in January of this year and has a lot of great advice to share with others wanting to follow his path. Formerly a Java developer, Michael was thrown into the world of Salesforce development very suddenly when his company assigned him his first Salesforce project. Even though his Java background helped a bit, he learned a lot of lessons through trial and error.

I am grateful he took time out of his very busy schedule to complete my interview. I think we can all learn a lot from each other.

Can you tell me a little about your background and the type of development you were doing prior to learning about Salesforce?

I graduated from University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign with a degree in Computer Engineering. I spent the next ~3-4 years doing a lot on the Java stack consulting on Documentum projects. Lots of Java, JSP, Tomcat, SQL/Oracle.

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

My company was starting a Salesforce practice and the first project (a single VF page and class) needed to get done. I was unbillable, so I got roped in without any idea what Salesforce was. Having a Java background helped quite a bit on the Apex side, but I ran into a lot of problems dealing with things like governor limits that blindsided me. Mostly I just fought my way through whatever tasks were tossed on my plate, learning what not to do and best practices as I went.

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?

I picked up the Dev 401 shortly after starting, which studying for helped demystify a lot of the platform. About a year later I started work at another company that was all for certifications, and I had some down time, so I cranked out Admin, Advanced Admin, Sales Cloud, and Service Cloud in a month. I found that working on a lot of smaller engagements over that year helped me be extremely prepared for those tests with minimal amount of studying. Then last fall I decided it was time to take Adv Dev 501. I felt pretty prepared, though there was a handful of material I had simply never used on my projects, and studying for that opened my eyes to a bunch of new ways of accomplishing things that I’ve integrated into my toolkit.

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

The Salesforce documentation is my #1 google result, looking for objects and fields. I subscribe to a handful of Force.com MVP blogs, particularly enjoying what Reid Carlberg, Jeff Douglas and Matt Welch have put out in regards to taking the platform to new limits.

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

Unfortunately I was in a position where I did not know any other person developing on Salesforce, nor had any coworkers developing, for almost a year. I had to self teach myself pretty much everything (and I did not realize the depth of content available on the internet for that same amount of time). I’m glad that I discovered a lot of best practices via my own trial and error, but having some coworkers on the platform, or even reaching out on #askforce on twitter or the salesforce stackexchange site makes solving problems far easier.

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

I’m a Technical Architect at 7Summits, helping build out their Salesforce practice that is particularly focused on creating online experiences to transform businesses. It is really exciting to see the UX/UI team that we have build awesome front ends on top of the Salesforce platform, and time and again the people I work with tell me how shocked they are that the backend work can be done so fast.

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

I would have spent a little more time trying to find helpful resources before punishing myself with trial and error, and I would have made more of an effort to find other developers working on the platform to bounce ideas off of. I have a hard time remembering what the ecosystem was like back in 2011, but the last couple years it has really exploded on the internet, to the point where there is always someone willing to help out on a variety of websites.

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

Pay attention to the best practices that are documented, you will see them ALL. THE. TIME. https://developer.salesforce.com/page/Apex_Code_Best_Practices The workbooks that Salesforce provides for Force.com, Apex, and VF are also extremely helpful. https://developer.salesforce.com/page/Force.com_workbook Beyond that, just get your hands dirty in a dev org!

HUGE Backlog for Registration of the Advanced Developer Programming Assignment

AdvancedDevCertBad news for anyone pursuing the Advanced Developer Certification. There is such a huge backlog, that I was just informed that I will not be able to register for the June, 2014 programming assignment as I had been expecting. Because of the backlog, I will now not be able to register until September, 2014. That sucks and I wanted to share this with you all.

According to Salesforce the following schedule now applies:

  • Candidates who completed the multiple-choice exam prior to December 1, 2013 and have not yet attempted the programming assignment and essay exam will be invited to participate in June, 2014.
  •  Candidates who completed the multiple-choice exam prior to April 1, 2014 and have not yet attempted the programming assignment and essay exam will be invited to participate in September, 2014.
  • Candidates who completed the multiple-choice exam after April 1, 2014 and have not yet attempted the programming assignment and essay exam will be invited to participate in December, 2014.
  • Candidates who have previously attempted the programming assignment will be invited to register for the programming assignment and essay exam in December, 2014, or in earlier windows as capacity is available.

For anyone stressing out about getting through with their multiple choice exam, you might want to factor this news into your preparation.

Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but I guess this just goes to prove how valuable this certification is – Salesforce is overwhelmed by the number of people attempting it. Capacity is limited to only 200 people per round.

Finally Passed the Advanced Developer Multiple Choice Exam!!!

This is no April’s Fool joke. Yesterday, I finally passed the Salesforce Advanced Developer Multiple choice exam!!! It was my second attempt. The first attempt was 6 months ago, but I now know that I was not ready then, so it was a good thing that I did not pass.

Back then, I barely knew the material. I thought I knew it because I had memorized it, but that did not mean that I “understood it”. I am now happy to say that I “know” this stuff. I know it like I know the back of my hand. And, that is a VERY good thing, because I now wait to complete the next stage of the process…the dreaded programming assignment.

Unfortunately, I have to wait until the next limited registration period (which is not until June 2). But, I am confident that the skills I have acquired so far will not atrophy before then. If anything, they will just continue to improve.

So, how did I learn this stuff like the back of my hand? I did it by following EVERY suggestion on Forceprepare. I basically did all of the following:

  • Obviously, I memorized all the notes I have posted on this site (but that was just the beginning and was not enough by itself to pass)
  • I watched the entire re-broadcast of the 501 Dev Class (which I posted about here). I took additional notes from that and posted them to this site (still not enough to pass). UPDATE, sorry to say but Salesforce has since removed the re-broadcast links from the 501 class.
  • I watched all of the 8 training videos on Pluralsight (which I posted about here)
  • I watched at least a dozen or more videos from Dreamforce.
  • I read countless blog articles from experts like Jeff Douglas, Matt Lacey, Bob Buzzard, etc
  • I worked through all the code in Bob Buzzards latest book, The Visualforce Development Cookbook (which I reviewed here).
  • I worked through ALL the Workbooks on DeveloperForce (they have been updated recently and they are REALLY GOOD).
  • I read through the entire Developers Guide (and YES, I know it is LONG).
  • The MOST important thing: I played with all the code on my Developer org (which is now packed with best practice code examples).

When I took the test yesterday, it was so easy to me. I could see through all the tricks they had put in. It seemed really obvious to me (which I think will make the programming assignment phase a breeze). Bring it on, I say. I just wish I could do it sooner.

Motivation and Tips for Passing the Force.com Advanced Developer Certification

AdvancedDeveloperCertVideoIf you are currently pursuing or even just thinking about pursuing the Force.com Advanced Developer Certification, I strongly suggest you check out this video. It is a recording of a panel discussion held at the most recent Dreamforce (late 2013), in which 3 people (seen in the image on the left) who have recently passed the Advanced Developer Certification shared their personal stories.

All three of the speakers had very different backgrounds and experiences in which to share. They each explained why they chose to pursue the certification, as well as specifics about how they studied for the exam and prepared for the coding assignment.

I found the third speaker, Barry Hughes, tips to be particularly helpful, which included some of the following:

  • Prepare for the essay exam by keeping notes and commenting your code as you complete the programming assignment.
  • When doing the programming assignment, focus on the functionality and not the visuals or the security
  • Make sure when you do your unit tests, that they include tests for positive, negative, bulk and specific profile scenarios.
  • Schedule the essay exam when you have the development for the programming assignment nearly finished. You do not have to wait until after you submit it.
  • When taking the actual essay exam, DO NOT try to copy and paste answers from one section to another. If you do, the testing software will deliberately erase what you typed and you will have to re-type it all (or madly find a proctor to get it back, as Barry ended up doing).

All of the panelists seemed to agree on the following advice:

  • Practice as much as possible by going through all of the workbooks available to you on DeveloperForce.
  • Take as much time as you can for the programming assignment and start as soon as you receive it. You will only have 4 weeks to complete. It took the panelists an average of 40 – 80 hours to complete the programming assignment and all had to do it in addition to their regular jobs.
  • Focus heavily on creating good test code for your programming assignment.

If you have not already run across this document about the Road to Advanced Developer Certification, I strongly suggest you read it too.