29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A great roadmap to Force.com development,
This review is from: Development with the Force.com Platform: Building Business Applications in the Cloud (Paperback)
This book is remarkable for three reasons.
The first reason is that this book exists at all. If you search Amazon, you'll see that there are hardly any books about Salesforce technology. If you then search for Force.com, you'll find only this book. This is because, traditionally, Salesforce and Force.com information has all been available electronically, often coming out faster than a book could be published. This is marvelous for access to information, but has a serious downside in that Developers need to look in many different places to find information about developing a Force.com solution. So, this book is beneficial in that a notably large amount of information is available in one place, and that it is available in a comforting paper-based format.
The second reason is that this book specifically focuses on Force.com, which is a relatively new development platform. The book makes no attempt to explain the traditional CRM side of the Salesforce platform; it jumps straight into Force.com, which is the custom development side of the Salesforce offering.
The third remarkable fact is that this book is written by a truly knowledgeable person on the subject. Jason Oullette is Chief Architect at Appirio, arguably the leading organisation specialising in Salesforce and Force.com technology. Jason has been personally involved in some of the biggest and most publicised rollouts of Force.com solutions. For example, he created the solution that Appirio demonstrated during the Dreamforce 2009 conference keynote presentation.
The book itself contains the complete array of technology involved in creating a Force.com solution: user interface, coding, workflow, database, integration and development tools. Each includes a sample solution for the topic discussed.
CHAPTER 1, Introducing Force.com, provides an overview of the Force.com platform and how it fits within the Salesforce suite of products.
CHAPTER 2, Database Essentials, explains how data is stored and accessed within Force.com, including the creation of custom objects and fields. It includes a comprehensive sample application that uses custom objects, formulas and data.
CHAPTER 3, Database Security, explains the multiple security models available in Force.com that can be quite confusing for new developers.
CHAPTER 4, Additional Database Features, takes a more advanced look at fields, record types (used to create different views of the same data) and a few miscellaneous topics.
CHAPTER 5, Business Logic, gets into the 'meat' of development with the Apex programming language that is native to Force.com. It covers lists, loops, governor limits, SOQL (Force.com's version of SQL), triggers, classes, tests and logs. The chapter is rich in information and could almost fill a book of its own.
CHAPTER 6, Advanced Business Logic, covers the more technical topics of SOSL (searching), DML (lower-level database calls), sharing rules (custom security) and email integration.
CHAPTER 7, User Interfaces, introduces the Visualforce platform that provides totally custom interfaces to Force.com applications. It covers the complex topics of controllers, components, actions, security and testing. Once again, this is a topic worthy of its own book. Fortunately, sample code is provided to give a worked solution of a Visualforce implementation.
CHAPTER 9, Integration, covers inbound and outbound communication including Salesforce-to-Salesforce and REST calls.
CHAPTER 10, Advanced Integration, throws in Web Services and the Metadata API (a means of importing/exporting the Force.com configuration).
CHAPTER 11, Additional Platform Features, covers the more mundane workflow, approvals, reporting, internationalisation and single sign-on.
The strength of this book is also its weakness, which is the fact that it covers the complete range of Force.com topics. This unfortunately means that each topic is only covered briefly, with just short samples of each topic. As an example, Chapter 5 covers Apex but only gives short samples of Inserts, Updates, Triggers and Batches. These are some of the most challenging topics in Apex yet there is unfortunately little space to delve deeply into these topics. Thus, the book has a lot of breadth, but not a lot of depth for each topic.
This book is ideal for someone new to Force.com because it provides a comprehensive overview of all Force.com topics, acting as a roadmap of knowledge and capability. However, developers will still find themselves having to consult the traditional sources of information, mostly found on Salesforce web pages and downloadable PDFs.
Don't get me wrong - this is an excellent book that legitimises Force.com development. It covers more topics than all but the best Force.com developers would know. It is already 400 pages; covering all the topics in depth would require encyclopedia-like volumes. Recognise this book as a means of gaining comprehensive insight into the capabilities of Force.com. It is great as a learning aid, but do not expect it to be a definitive reference. You will still need access to more information, but at least this book tells you what capabilities exist. I have no doubt this book will find its way onto the bookshelves of the majority of Force.com developers. Oh, and it's a darn sight easier to read this paper book on the bus than the traditional PDFs that come from Salesforce!