Salesforce Trailhead: Approach with Caution

Proceed to the Salesforce Trailhead with caution

As a former member of the Trailhead team, I am hesitant to write this, but I think it is an important thing for people to be aware of. If you have been using Trailhead for longer than a year, then you need to be aware of these pretty serious limitations.

While you can retake challenges for badges and projects, you cannot do so for Superbadges. More importantly, once you complete a badge, you have no way of knowing that the content for that badge may have been significantly updated. As in, all the content you understood when you completed the badge, is no longer relevant.

As I am sure you are aware, Salesforce does major releases three times a year. When they do, they prepare comprehensive release notes and the Trailhead authors are instructed to review these notes and update their content as necessary. That part is great. What is not great is that you as a consumer of Trailhead content have no way of knowing that the content was updated (without revisiting EVERY badge you have earned to examine the content).

The badge itself just indicates that it was completed on a certain date. As in the image below of a badge I completed in 2015. This badge has since been significantly updated and the content that was once relevant when I completed the badge is VERY different.

Trailhead badge completed in 2015 that now has VERY different content

How do you know that you are aware of the latest features and updates to the platform? Well, it is up to you to pick through the release notes and then cross reference any Trailhead content that you may have completed. Nice, right?

Just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this (what I consider to be) serious limitation. I hope the team is actively addressing it. I would say I know, but they don’t talk to me since I left the team.

Trailheads New Data Integration Specialist Superbadge is Super Fun!

trailhead_superbadge_data_integrationI recently had the fortunate opportunity to provide early testing and feedback for the latest Superbadge released by Salesforce’s Trailhead. This one covers all the different aspects of being a data integration specialist. This includes being able to configure both inbound and outbound security, being able to synchronize Salesforce data with external systems, and creating test Apex classes to do both Apex REST and SOAP callouts.

Even though I have done quite a bit of data integration work over the years (both with Salesforce and .NET), I admittedly had not done much with it in the past two years, so I figured this might be a bit of a challenge.

It sure was a challenge, but in a very good way I think. And, it was actually fun! Yeah, right, fun I said.

The superbadge is not like any of the other trailheads you may have completed in the past. This special superbadge is designed to test how well you really grasped the underlying material and not just walk you through yet another predictable tutorial. It is also based on real-world type scenarios, similar to what you would encounter in your development job.

This particular superbadge requires that you to complete 4 other Trailhead badges as pre-requisites before you can even attempt the badge. The other badges will give you the knowledge that you need, but the challenges in the superbadge will only offer you business requirements. You will be asked to complete 9 different challenges that will really confirm you know the material well. You will even be asked to apply best practices when applicable.

What is so fun about it, is that it forces you to think though the scenarios and not just repeat a bunch of steps. If you are a developer like me, then you actually like this type of challenge, You probably also like crossword puzzles and mind teasers too, I’m guessing

So, I challenge anyone with no to a lot of experience with Salesforce data integration to check out this newly available superbadge and let me know what you think. I bet you will love it just as much as I did.

Check Out the New Lightning Trailhead Challenge

Last Dreamforce (Oct. 2014), Salesforce announced a new interactive way of learning all about the platform through a new resource called Trailhead. I have reviewed a lot of online training platforms and I have to admit that Trailhead is the best free online resource I have ever seen. And just last week, they released a new training module on how to build modern apps using reusable Lightning components.

What makes Trailhead, and especially this Lightning module so special is that it challenges you to complete exercises within your own development org. And most of all, the challenges are just that. Challenges. They actually take effort and thought. They are NOT just a step-by-step tutorial re-hash like so many online tools are (not that there is anything at all wrong with that style of learning).

They provide a list of specific end goals, but they do not tell you exactly what to do to accomplish them. You have to figure that out for yourself. Typically, you will have to re-read through the module material you just read, but it is possible you may also have to do a little side research to come up with a solution.

Each challenge takes about 30 minutes, but it may take a little longer if you are brand new to the material. And, each challenge gets progressively harder to complete, so they kind of ease you into it.

If you looked into Lightning and can see what a game changer it will be to mobile development, you really owe it to yourself to go through this training module and earn your Lightning badge. I am half way there myself. Let me know if you get yours and what you thought of Trailhead. Personally, I think it is amazing that Developerforce offers this kind of high-end stuff for free!