Dreamforce ’18 Prep

With Dreamforce just around the corner, I thought I’d put together a list of my top Dreamforce tips both for newbies and returning conference goers. Let me know if there are any that I missed! And check out my recap from last year to get you psyched up about #DF18!

Tip Number 1: Come in with 3 things you want to learn about

With over 3000 sessions to choose from, 150K people, and a seemingly unlimited amount of things to see, it’s important to have goals to focus on. Whether those goals involve making a new connection, learning about the latest and greatest products, gaining a new skill, or reinforcing your existing knowledge, I highly recommend choosing 3 major things you want to focus on. For me this year, that’ll be Lightning Components, Salesforce DX, and the Integration Cloud. While it’s great to try to learn everything, especially if your employer is paying for you to be there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and for that reason it’s important to focus on what you really want to focus on and come away with something you can bring back to your company. Now that Agenda Builder is live, use the filters to build a session that will accomplish your goals. Check out Salesforce’s Agenda Builder tips if you’re having trouble!

Tip Number 2: Give yourself some free time

Marc Benioff likes to joke that there are 3000 sessions and he expects you to attend every one of them. Not only is that not possible, I wouldn’t recommend packing in as many sessions as you can, since you can find most of them on YouTube after anyway! I’d refer you to Tip #1 and only add the sessions that you find most important and interesting. In addition to the sessions, there’s also usually an Admin Meadow, a Developer Forest, and more Trailhead themed locations surrounding different products and industries. These areas are great for getting quick demos, meeting new people, and completing your Dreamforce quests to earn swag. There’s also an expo hall that has a ton of great sponsors that offer solutions to help you improve your Salesforce implementation. Make sure to leave some gaps in your calendar to take advantage of these Dreamforce only opportunities.

Tip Number 3: Make sure to network

While you probably won’t have time to meet all 150,000 attendees, try to connect with a few people if you can! Salesforce MVPs such as myself are always up for meeting new people and sharing our love of Salesforce! Circles of Success sessions are also great ways to meet people to talk about certain topics of interest of specific industries. Just walking around the Trailhead zones, you never know who you might run into!

Tip Number 4: Have fun

While there’s a ton to learn at Dreamforce, there’s also a lot of fun to be had! If the smiling mascots and passion about technology and innovation doesn’t do it for you, the week of Dreamforce is also packed with parties! Check out the lists and make them part of your plan. There are also some pretty light hearted sessions such as the #AwesomeAdmin Lip Sync battle, which yours truly won last year, and #AwesomeAdmin Karaoke so don’t be afraid to let your hair down and have some fun with your fellow attendees! The conference also takes place in San Francisco so try to make some time to enjoy the city!

Tip Number 5: Dreamforce is more than a tech conference

While Salesforce has been consistently named one of the most innovative tech companies for several years in a row by Forbes, co-CEO Marc Benioff has said that “the business of business is improving the state of the world”. Nowhere is this more prevalent than at Dreamforce. In addition to learning about the latest and greatest technology, there are sessions such as a talk on Global Sustainability with former Vice President Al Gore, a session about Ethical Responsibility with Salesforce Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet, and many others surrounding Equality and Diversity. These are also valuable topics to bring back to your companies and to incorporate in your work and personal lives and part of what makes working with Salesforce so special.

Bonus Tip: Use hand sanitizer

This is a bonus tip but something that I seem to forget every year. In your Dreamforce bag that is provided for being an attendee, there will be a bottle of hand sanitizer. MAKE SURE TO USE IT! The Dreamflu is a real thing! With 150,000 people in close quarters, you can bet that unfortunately not all of them will be as you are so using this hand sanitizer is a great way to help ensure that you can get back to work the next week.

Have a great Dreamforce!

Summer ’18

Another couple months, another Salesforce release! This time it’s Summer ‘18 and to avoid you having to read all 512 pages of the release notes (although there is some great stuff in there!) I’m going over my favorite features that are coming out. I had a hard time narrowing it down so decided to stick with my lucky number, 17!

 

Declarative

There’s a lot of great new functionality on the declarative side of things, specifically for the Lightning Experience. My favorite features focused on two areas; Reports & Dashboards and Process Builder/Flow.

Reports & Dashboards

Link Dashboard Components

My first top feature from this release is that you can now link dashboard components to either elsewhere internal to Salesforce or somewhere external! I see a lot of potential here in making it faster to act on data you see in dashboards

rd_dashboards_link

Add to Dashboard from Report

I’ve never been a fan of how many steps it takes to start building a dashboard after just spending time building a report. That’s all over with the “Add to Dashboard from Report” functionality in Summer ‘18! Now you can add a report to an existing dashboard or start a new dashboard directly from the report itself!

rd_dashboards_add_report

Report and Dashboard Subfolders

I like to stay organized and as a result, am the type of person who has folders on folders on folders on my computer. Now I can bring that organization to Salesforce as well with the ability to create subfolders for reports or dashboard folders!

dashboard_subfolders

Filter on Old and New Values in Field History Reports

My last favorite new feature on Reports and Dashboards is the ability to properly report on field history by being able to filter on old and new values. This should make it much easier to determine when records changed and why!

reports_filter_old_value_new_value

 

Process Builder and Flow

Guided Action List Component

This may only kind of be a feature for flow but the new Guided Action List component based on flows should be tremendously helpful in walking support reps through a given process. While probably most applicable for service agents, I can see how this component could potentially get used for other processes as well.

guided_flow

 

Flow Debug Capability

This has been a long time coming, the ability to fully debug Flows! Flows now have a Debug option to walk you through the flow with all of its variable values.

flow_debugger_details_panel

 

Process Builder Helpful Error Messages

In addition to being able to debug flows, Process Builder now has actually helpful error messages! Looking forward to reduced frustration when trying to figure out why one of these isn’t working properly (not that it wouldn’t work on the first try of course 😉 )

process_error

 

Process and Flow Limit Information

Not a very flashy change, but another one that will help with troubleshooting. Processes and Flows will now show additional info on how close they are to hitting governor limits. Kudos to Salesforce to continually making these easier to troubleshoot!

flow_limits

 

Partial Save Process Builder Mass Create and Update

My final favorite Process and Flow feature is the capability to allow for partial save of records. This capability comes in very handy all the time with Apex and now Processes will benefit from it as well! If one of your 500 updated records fail due to a validation error, you will now still have 499 successes instead of 0 previously!

 

Coding

2.5X Debug Log Size Limit

This one may be one of my favorite updates all time in Salesforce releases. The Debug Log size limit has more than doubled from 2MB to 5MB! I’ve spent far too much time messing with debug log settings to get the levels I want to be able to get the necessary output while staying under the limit, (hopefully) no more!

 

Lightning Pages work with broken Components

Another much needed feature/bug fix, Lightning Pages will no longer completely fail if one of the components is broken! Instead, just the component will fail to properly render. It’s too bad this wasn’t the case when I was troubleshooting the Trailhead Lightning Component Superbadge but better late than never!

 

Apex Switch Statement

A long asked for addition to Apex, the Switch statement is finally here! It should make those long if/else blocks MUCH simpler! Check out the switch statement in action from TrailheaDX!

apex_switch

 

Run Apex Tests without Code Coverage

I’m all for almost ANYTHING that will make my tests run faster. Apex now lets you opt out of calculating code coverage while tests are running to increase performance. This is one of those features that I didn’t know I needed but now I can’t understand how I ever lived without!

 

Metadata Dependency API

This is just a Pilot but looked AMAZING when demoed at TrailheaDX, the Metadata Dependency API! It’s primary use is figuring out what components are necessary to be able to spin up scratch orgs properly but I’m hoping I’ll be able to use it to figure out what related components are needed for deployments and deletions as well!

dependency_api

 

Instance Names Removed from Sandbox URLs

This last one tends to bug me as someone who has to end up hardcoding instance names for Communities and other pages and then change then whenever a sandbox gets refreshed but finally the instance name is being removed from URLs in sandboxes!

 

Einstein

Einstein Service Bots

My last section of updates I’m most excited about deals with Einstein. For years I’ve been hearing about bots and this is one of the first ones I’ve seen that is configurable declaratively! Einstein Service Bots are here for orgs with Live-Agent! Salesforce even put together a nice video on it!

einstein_service_bot_main_dialog

Einstein Next Best Action

My last favorite feature is another Pilot but one that I’m very excited about due to its potential. It’s the Einstein Next Best Action capability. I’m guessing that there may be some initial kinks to work out, but the idea that Einstein can suggest to a user what action they should take is one of the big ideas that AI is striving towards! I’m hopeful it catches on!

next_best_action_component

 

Hopefully this gave you a nice taste of what Summer ‘18 has to offer, Coming Soon to an Org near you! Let me know if you agree/disagree and if I missed anything! Be sure to check out the Summer ’18 badge on Trailhead and make sure you’re #Ready4Summer18

I WITnessed Success

Closing out the longest vacation of my life to date (3 weeks), I stopped for a few days on the way back from India in Chicago, where I was able to attend not one, but two, Salesforce conferences (and enjoy some Chicago Deep Dish pizza)! The first conference was the one that started all the community events, Midwest Dreamin’, and the second was the first ever Salesforce conference focusing on Women in Tech, WITness Success.

Even though Midwest Dreamin’ had many other focuses other than WIT, I found myself drawn to the ones that focused on it anyway. It included a keynote by Ayori Selassie speaking about AI/Einstein and a session that really made me focus on my privilege, led by Shonnah Hughes and Rakia Finley. This session had each attendee fill out a privilege card, and then asked you to try to form a group subject to some rules. It was definitely a unique experience as I checked more and more boxes and realized how many things I take for granted, that other people don’t have, and how many things I don’t even think about that affect people negatively on a regular basis.

Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 10.03.26 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-27 at 8.42.16 PM

After the conclusion of Midwest Dreamin, it was time for the first ever WITness Success, a conference focused on Women in Tech across the Salesforce community. After an Allies dinner, the opening keynote was none other than Ayori once again! She shared some of her experiences and talked about how she is passing on lessons to her daughter about how to thrive in society.

Later we heard from Nora Poggi, who produced a documentary on tech companies founded by women.

We also heard from Cheryl Porro, SVP of Technology and Product Delivery at Salesforce, who shared a truly inspirational and personal story, of her journey to get to where she is today. She also shared some insightful statistics on why gender diversity is so imperative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While all of these women had things in common both with me and with each other, it was clear that in their own ways, they had to fight far ever than I ever had to in order to accomplish what they had achieved. I left after the speakers, having been truly inspired.

In the afternoon, I attended a few other sessions, and in more than 1, experienced what it felt like to be the only person of my gender in the room, something I imagined was a frequent occurrence for many of my fellow conference-goers. While it was uncomfortable at first, I’m glad I got to experience what that was like. It definitely opened my eyes a bit and gave me a much better appreciation of what women in tech probably experience on a regular basis.

I attended a few different panels where women shared their unique experiences of achieving success in the male dominated tech industry.

It is so exciting to see the increasing number of success stories across the Women in Tech community. Also amazing to know how powerful the community is within the Salesforce Ohana. This conference was also important as it took place the same day as the violent riots by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. If nothing else, that proved that it is more important now than ever to continue supporting diversity and inclusion. I am thankful for everyone that had a hand in putting the conference together as well as giving me this very insightful experience. Without a doubt, I truly WITnessed success!

As the conference was wrapping up, and I realized I had picked up a shirt that was a bit too form fitting for my taste (again giving me empathy for what many at the conference experience on a regular basis) I had a few take-a-ways.

  1. We have a long way to go in the fight for gender equality
  2. Walking in someone else’s shoes for even just a couple of hours will give you a tremendous insight into where they’re coming from
  3. There are many things that everyone can do to help today

If you are interested in learning more about helping in the fight for gender equality, there are a few things I would suggest. If you’re in a position of influence, consider following Salesforce’s lead and looking into the gender pay gap at your company. Think about different recruiting pools you can tap into in order to help make your workforce more diverse.

If you’re more of an individual contributor, consider looking at your own professional network and see if you’re getting influenced by a diverse group of people. One way to help with this, may be to play Mary Scotton’s Diversity Your Feed Bingo.

If you’re really inspired, you can even be like Abhilasha Singh and many other amazing WIT leaders and help organize your own WIT events, as they did across India one week after the WITness Success conference!

After attending the first ever WITness Success conference, I would love to be able to attend in 2018 and hope you’ll all join me! It’s taking place in Denver, Colorado on July 27th-28th. Be sure to follow @WITnessSuccess for all the updates. Hope to see you there!

Dreamforce 2017

As the new year begins, I’m finally getting a few minutes to reflect on Dreamforce 2017. It was my 4th Dreamforce with my 4th different company, after having made a few positive career moves in the last few years, and my first Dreamforce since my inaugural one that I wasn’t presenting at. It was also the first Dreamforce that I had experienced that didn’t seem to have some sort of ecosystem altering announcement (Wave/Analytics Cloud in 2014, IoT in 2015, Einstein in 2016). Despite the lack of a major announcement, Dreamforce 2017 was anything but dull, as there were still a ton of exciting features being shared and teased that I’m looking forward to!

My Dreamforce began with the Women’s Network Dinner. If you didn’t get the chance to attend this year, I highly recommend it for next year. It was a great opportunity to hear from some impressive women that have accomplished a tremendous amount in their careers! They shared life lessons that can everyone can learn from regardless of your gender or background. My particular favorite was a quote from Amy Weaver, Salesforce’s President of Legal and General Counsel.

Day 1

Moscone West

After being greeted by some friendly mascots, I started checking out all the demos and interactive exhibits in Moscone West, including a pretty impressive IoT enabled city built by LEGO! I also swung by a session on my new favorite IDE, Illuminated Cloud!

I also finally got the opportunity to meet the man himself, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff!

Main Keynote

Speaking of Marc, while usually his keynote takes place on the second day, I thought it was a welcome change to move it to the first day. I personally like hearing new products get announced and explained to get some context before checking out their respective demos.

One of the new product announcements was something I’d been hoping to see for a while, myTrailhead!

Salesforce is essentially making Trailhead available to your company to personally brand and create learning modules for! I believe that Trailhead and gamification of learning are part of what make working with Salesforce so incredible, and if I can now customize a gamified platform to meet my company’s needs, I can just picture the endless possibilities! While this feature won’t be available until sometime later in 2018 and will come with an (in my opinion fully justified) additional cost, I’m excited about the possibilities for it. This will make training my users SO much easier and hopefully reduce a ton of the support tickets that my team and I receive on a regular basis.

This was actually just the first of the “my” series of products announced during the Keynote. myEinstein (customized AI), myLightning (custom UI branding), mySalesforce (customized app for your company), and myIoT were also discussed.

The other announcement that got me excited was Salesforce’s partnership with Google. As an employee of Google and an active participant in the Salesforce ecosystem, it makes me incredibly happy to see my two favorite tech companies working so well together! It also means that Salesforce is going to be getting deeper integration with Google products such as Gmail, Calendar, and gSuite (Docs, Sheets, Slides) so I’ll definitely be following this closely in 2018!

Day 2

Michelle Obama

My second day started off with a pretty cool fireside chat with former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama! She talked about how important education is for everyone and also shared some stories about people she met all over the country while her family was in the White House and how even though many people disagreed with her, they were all trying to do their best and still had something to offer. In today’s climate, I think it is more important now than ever to listen to as many viewpoints as we can, even if we don’t agree with them all.

Einstein Keynote

After seeing Michelle Obama, I was able to get a great seat for the Einstein Keynote in the same room. One of the first pieces of info they shared was that 80% of all records in Salesforce are created in Custom Objects. As customizable as the Salesforce Platform is, it seemed like a believable stat to me. They followed this up by going in depth on myEinstein, which will allow Salesforce admins and developers to take advantage of Einstein AI on their custom objects! In particular, you can start making predictions on your custom records based on fields that you specify. It comes at an additional cost but you can play around with it for free today on Trailhead!

They also shared something they’re playing with regarding summarizing text. I haven’t had the chance to experiment with Einstein personally yet outside of Trailhead, but I’m very excited with the direction that it’s going!

Developer Keynote

After Einstein, I went to one of my favorite sessions at Dreamforce, the Developer keynote. While there weren’t any major announcements here, I was definitely excited to hear that Lightning Components can now be dynamically displayed in Lightning Pages. Lightning Base Components also continue to get more powerful (similar to Visualforce apex tags, think apex:form, apex:inputField, etc). As someone who is trying to get more into Lightning Component development, I’m extremely encouraged that Salesforce continues to make it easier to make the transition.

They also introduced the capability of being able to style Visualforce pages like the Lightning UI by simply adding lightningStylesheets=”true” to the apex:page tag. Between that and the apex:slds tag that automatically imports the Lightning Design System without needing a static resource, Salesforce once again continues to make it easier and easier for developers to make the switch to Lightning Experience.

Zayne Turner also showed off how Platform Events work and Leah McGowan-Hare shared some updates on Einstein Bot capabilities.

If you’re interested in checking all the entire keynote and the technology discussed, there’s a great Trailmix for you!

Trailhead Keynote

After the Developer Keynote, it was time for the first ever Trailhead keynote! Over the last couple years, Trailhead has exploded to note only encompass over 300 badges, serve as the theme for all of Dreamforce and TrailheaDX, but has turned the concept of “the Trailblazer” into a central message for Salesforce as they continue their massive growth.

The center of that message, is the platform that started it all, Trailhead. The Keynote kicked off by talking about that very growth. Over 4 MILLION badges had been earned on Trailhead as of Dreamforce. Trailhead also announced a bunch of new features including Trailmixes, which allows you to combine your favorite modules together and send them to others, as well as the long awaited Account Merge, to ensure that you never lose your progress! My favorite feature was the vanity URL though, which makes it easy to show off your Trailhead progress on your resume or social media. Check mine out! https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/me/adammvp

We then got a demo of the very exciting myTrailhead, which lets you create your own personalized Trailhead modules that you can use at your company!

The last major component may be in my opinion, the most important one. I’ve always believed that addition to the great technology, Salesforce’s advantage has always been their community, the people that are out there to help out out of the goodness of their hearts. The Trailhead team has capitalized on that industry advantage by formally introducing the key that has helped build Trailhead into what it is, Trailheart.

Trailheart is the motor that makes the Trailhead engine run so smoothly and sweetly. By focusing on making learning into a conversation that EVERYONE can participate in, Salesforce has an instant competitive advantage that everyone else is just playing catch-up on. When myTrailhead becomes Generally Available, companies would greatly benefit by trying to capture this concept if they want their internal Trailhead modules to be nearly as successful as the Salesforce developed ones.

Trailhead is continuing to grow and develop new features. The one that is most interesting to me, is the concept of earning credentials on the Trailhead platform. We’ve already seen some of this come to fruition with Superbadges now comprising the entirety of the Platform Developer II technical exam. As someone who is also looking to increase my credentials in my quest of continuing my learning, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this space.

Day 3

Success Cloud Keynote

I started off Day 3 by checking out Salesforce’s newest Cloud, the Success Cloud! This essentially entails the different approaches Salesforce can take to help you as a customer achieve success. It can range from a light touch (such as taking advantage of Trailhead and the Trailblazer community) to an in depth analysis (using pre-built accelerators and Salesforce internal architects).

We heard some different customer stories and got some nice flair as well with a special appearance by Despacito singer Luis Fonzi and some lucky winners who got the chance to meet Star Wars stars Mark Hammill and Billie Lourd!

True to the Core

After stopping to see my team at YouTube present on how we moved to Lightning, I headed over to True to the Core.

True to the Core is one of my favorite sessions every year, as we get the chance to hear directly from the Product Managers and ask them and Parker Harris questions on the future of the platform. They’re usually brutally honest and it is refreshing to hear what they have to say outside of the marketing and flashy lights.

As always, there were some pretty cool things coming down the pipeline, and my favorite was probably the concept of dynamic page layouts, both at the lightning component and the field level. If you’re interested in a deeper dive, check out the Salesforce Weekly recap!

Admin Keynote

One of the most exciting keynotes at Dreamforce, and the last major session I attended, was the Admin Keynote!

My favorite announcements were that we’ll soon no longer be landing on Recently Used records on an Object tab, Lightning will have text wrapping in list views, and there is a new Lightning Report Builder for building reports!

We also saw some more demos of the myLightning custom branding capabilities, Einstein prediction builder, dynamic Lightning components, and Platform Events launching a process in Process Builder.

My recap doesn’t begin to capture the atmosphere though. The #AwesomeAdmin community is like no other and I highly recommend you attend this keynote yourself next year! Admins are tremendously passionate about the Salesforce Platform and as long as Salesforce continues to emphasize their low code capabilities, I’ll continue being a firm believer that anyone can be a Salesforce master!

There was a custom made Admin Trailmix for the keynote as well that you can check out!

Day 4

Having Fun

On the final day of Dreamforce 2017, I attended an Analytics workshop in the morning and focused on having fun. My main event was the Lip Sync battle that I attended and participated in. Since I sing in the shower anyway, I figured it would be fun to come out of my shell a little bit and do some lip-syncing in public.

People seemed to like my rendition of Taylor Swift and I was off to the finals!

For the final round, I decided to do a classic I grew up with from the Backstreet Boys.

People seemed to enjoy this as well and I got a cool trophy! I had a lot of fun and will most likely be back to defend my title next year!

Ohana

As always, I got to say hi to my Ohana as well! Seeing all these fellow Salesforce enthusiasts is one of my favorite parts of Dreamforce every year!

Thoughts for next year

I spent most of my time at keynotes this year, and while that was helpful, I missed out on some of the more in depth sessions to really dive into topics I’d want to learn about. For those planning for Dreamforce 2018, my suggestion would be to try to pick at least a couple sessions to go to on topics you really want to find out more about. In the mean time, check out the sessions from 2017 here!

The other thing I noticed was similar to previous years, I contracted the “Dreamflu” and was sick for a few days after Dreamforce. I also noticed that for the 3rd in a row, I barely touched the free hand sanitizer that Salesforce provided with the backpack. My suggestion would be to take full advantage of this under-appreciated perk and keep yourself healthy!

Recap

Overall at Dreamforce 2017, while there was no paradigm shifting announcement, I liked that there was still a strong focus on improving the core of the platform. The Salesforce ecosystem is stronger than ever and looks to continue growing into 2018 and beyond. The platform continues to be more customizable than ever and I’m looking forward to AI continuing to allow people to focus on more implementations and creating things as Einstein figures out some of the org’s problems and pain points. Dreamforce 2018 is coming up at the end of September and will be excited to see everything new that Salesforce continues to create!

Spring ’18

Spring ‘18 is coming to a sandbox near you and that means the release notes are out! The PDF is 439 pages this time around, and it felt like Salesforce was adding a bunch of lesser used features and minor enhancements to bring Lightning up to feature parity with Classic. That being said, there are still many exciting new additions and here are my top 10 favorites!

List Class adding contains() and indexOf() methods

For too long, I’ve been putting all my list items into a set for the sole purpose of running a .contains() on it. Excited to see this option is coming to List as well!

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_apex_new_classes_methods.htm

No more ENTERING_MANAGED_PKG for Debug Logs!

Few things annoy me more than losing debug log space for running managed package code that I can’t see or edit anyway. Hopefully this will make solving apex issues simpler!

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_forcecom_debugging_log_levels.htm

Custom Themes and Branding

Was very excited to see this discussed at Dreamforce. Every company has a unique usage for Salesforce and it is great to see that Salesforce is allowing the uniqueness to expand to the color scheme of the org itself.

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_lightning_themes.htm

Salesforce Surveys

Excited to see that Salesforce has added a standard Survey component! Interesting possibilities with this one to gain insights from internal users and communities.

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_general_surveys.htm

Time Field is now in Public Beta

As someone who works with a time reservation app, I love that this feature is publicly available. I am especially excited about the formula fields that come with this as well.

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_forcecom_field_time_type_public_beta.htm

Related Fields and Other Objects in Component Visibility

At Dreamforce, I found out about the capability of dynamic Lightning component visibility. Very encouraged to see that this has been extended to related fields and objects as well! This allows for additional flexibility on Lightning pages.

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_forcecom_lab_field_traversal_in_rules.htm

Force.com is now the Lightning Platform

This is more of a semantic thing than anything and while maybe not one of my favorite changes, I’m hoping that this helps introduce some consistency in Salesforce’s naming conventions. I’ve only been working with the platform for a couple years but in that time, I’ve heard the platform referred to as the Force.com Platform, the Salesforce1 Platform, the Salesforce Platform, and probably another name or two that I’m forgetting. Hopefully this name sticks!

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_general_force_dot_com_rebrand.htm

Collapsible Sections on Lightning Pages

One of my favorite features on large page layouts now comes to Lightning pages to collapse various components! Should make pages easier to read.

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_forcecom_lab_comp_accordion.htm

Validation Rules can use Custom Metadata (Pilot)

While just a pilot for now, I’m glad to see that the line between Standard and Custom metadata is shrinking!

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_forcecom_development_custom_metadata_validation_rule_formula.htm

Lead Conversion Configurability

Every company has a slightly different lead conversion process, so any additional option to customize that process is a welcome addition to me! This might even make Bill Lumbergh smile.

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_sales_features_core_leads_conversion_oppty_config.htm

New URL Format in Lightning Experience

With just one example in the Release notes, it’s hard to tell exactly how helpful this will actually be but I’m hoping it will make ALL URLs in Lightning more readable. I was able to create a record in a pre-release org and ended up with this URL https://gs0.lightning.force.com/lightning/r/Hockey_Player__c/a01B0000002AEofIAG/view for my custom Hockey_Player__c object with ID a01B0000002AEofIAG

https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring18/release-notes/rn_general_enhanced_urls_cruc.htm

Current format: https://lightning.domain.com/one/one.app/#/sObject/Account/home

New format: https://lightning.domain.com/lightning/o/Account/home

Those are my favorites from Spring ’18, let me know if you have any others!

Dreamin’ all over the world part 2 (Bangalore)

After my trip to Uruguay earlier this year, I continued my world travels in 2017 with an extended vacation to Europe and India! I spent a total of 4 days in Bangalore and while not nearly enough time to see the surrounding area, let alone the entire country, it left me with a tremendous amount of memories!

On top of all the sights and tours I took in Bangalore, the main reason I went was to speak at the Bengaluru Salesforce Developer user group, according to Meetup, the largest Salesforce Developer group in the world. I was honored to be invited to speak there and loved the opening remarks by one of the group leaders, Abhilash Kuntar, who announced that his goal was to see 50% attendance from the WIT community in Bangalore at the Developer group. This is a tremendous goal that I think all groups should try to emulate! There is a growing and thriving WIT Community in India, thanks in part to Abhilasha Singh. I’m excited to see what’s to come!

I started off by presenting on the Tooling API and finished up presenting on how to Blaze your Trail and grow your career with Salesforce. Feel free to check out the slides.

I was able to get some authentic samosas and get some selfies with some of the great people that make up part of the Salesforce community in India.

I was also extremely touched after being presented with several gifts

One of my major takeaways though, was how passionate the people are there. In addition to some great cultural experiences from the tours I took, everyone I met was extremely welcoming and helpful. Bangalore specifically, made me feel like I was back in the Bay Area, with the enormous amount of tech talent and entrepreneurial spirit that I felt from everyone.

Being based in San Francisco, near Salesforce HQ, it is easy to forget how vast the Ohana truly is, spreading all over the world. For me, this trip was proof that it is thriving in many other places as well! For anyone looking for their next major trip, or just to get some world travel in, I would highly recommend Bangalore, and India in general. There are several events taking place there in 2018, and a great many people to follow to stay up to date about all that is happening there.

India Dreamin’, Bengaluru Calling, and Jaipur Dev Fest were the major events that took place or were planned for 2017. I’d recommend following their accounts to stay apprised of 2018 details.

Special thanks to the following people who made my stay incredible, I recommend following them all and connecting with them to learn about the Ohana in India and/or to get some travel recommendations if you are able to visit!

Dreamin’ All Over the World

It’s been a crazy few months for me! I had the pleasure of presenting at a User Group for the first time in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona and also achieved a few new certifications on my road to become a Certified Technical Architect! I’ve even started tracking my progress here! I also got recognized by Salesforce on their blog! Probably the most amazing thing that I’ve had the privilege of participating in during the last few months though, was speaking in the first ever Latin American Salesforce Community Conference, Punta Dreamin!

In my first ever trip to South America (or international travel on my own), I was eager to experience as much as I possibly could. I had the great fortune of running into Angela Mahoney at the airport who was a tremendous tour guide in Montevideo! I also had the privilege of meeting my co-coach for RAD Women who was in from Bolivia, Nadim Diaz!

The conference itself was located in beautiful Punta del Este and included a packed house with people from all over South America. A few others along with myself also joined from the United States. Some of the incredible people I got to meet were some of the developers in Uruguay who have done tremendous work with Salesforce directly (helping to develop the Success Community and developer.salesforce.com backends).

Knowing that Spanish was the native language, I had to brush up on my Spanish beforehand and actually enjoyed preparing a slide in Spanish and communicating in a foreign language. It also gave me a much greater appreciation of anyone who comes to America where English is NOT their first language. Given how many grammar mistakes I made, it will definitely be easier to be more forgiving of it now.

 

 

After the conference, I traveled with Lyric Hartley to Buenos Aires, Argentina where we met up with Dario! While I was unsuccessful in finding a tango partner, I had a great time exploring a few of the beautiful places (and delicious food) that South America has to offer.

I’m truly blessed to have the opportunity to travel around the world and share my love of Salesforce and technology with people everywhere! Even though our cultures may have some differences (we arrived at a club that was just opening at 1:30am), it’s wonderful to be able to share experiences and values that unite us. The #Ohana is truly present everywhere you go.

Special shout out to the organizers of the event: Aldo Fernandez, Andrea Morales, Bruno Diaz, and Fernando Israel for their incredible work to make the event a success!

I highly recommend you to check out highlights of the event and consider making a trip down to Uruguay for #PD18! Details to come at Forcelandia!

 

 

Spring ’17 Release Recap

One of the great things about Salesforce is that they have releases 3 times a year with 250-300 new features each time! One of the not as great things about Salesforce is that means reading through very long documents (466 pages this time) if you want to keep up. Fortunately for you, this and other blog posts can give you a taste of the new Spring ’17 release without having to navigate all 466 pages on your own!

If you’d like to check it out for yourself though, feel free to peruse the HTML or PDF versions. I’ve included links to the portions that I mention in the titles of each subsection. You can also check out the summary videos for each cloud on the Salesforce website.

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General Salesforce Enhancements

Here the my favorite General Salesforce Enhancements for this release. These changes apply to both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience.

 
View and Edit Converted Leads permission:For a few releases now, you’ve been able to check a couple different permissions to allow users to view and edit leads after they’ve been converted. Now that permission has consolidated into 1! 

Use the Salesforce Lightning Design System (SLDS) in Visualforce pagesNo longer do you need to continue to upload the latest SLDS as a static resource! You can also now access SLDS components using the $Asset tag

Share Lightning Components Publicly: Similar to my Trailhead leaderboard, you’ve been able to make Visualforce pages public by putting them on public Sites or in Salesforce public Communities. Now you can do the same with Lightning Components by putting the allowGuestAccess tag on them! I haven’t been consistently building these yet but I love seeing the functionality continue to increase

Community Workspaces: Not used by everyone but I think it’s pretty cool, I was never a big fan of the old Communities interface. It’s now been completely revamped and should make things even easier to create communities! There was a ton of functionality added to Community Cloud in this release and you can read more about it in Phil Weinmeister’s review.

 

Lightning Experience Enhancements

You may have noticed that I didn’t find too many amazing new general features and I think that’s the point. As much as we all love Salesforce Classic, Lightning is the future and it’s here to stay. That being said, there were some pretty cool enhancements made to the Lightning Experience that make me more and more anxious to start using them! Here are a few of them.

Improved UI Event Log Tracking: This may be the most important addition to this release. Now you have the capability to track user interface Interactions, Errors, Page Views, and Performance statistics in Lightning Experience. I think this will not only help admins and developers, but also Salesforce themselves identify where improvements need to be made. Very encouraged by this addition.

Utility Bar: I think of this like the bottom bar on my iPhone. No matter which home screen I’m looking at, the key things I might want to click on are always still there. It’s similar to the Footer in the Salesforce console but no longer restricted to consoles!

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Account and Campaign Hierarchy Tree View: This is something that has always annoyed me about the Account Hierarchy, I never felt like I could visualize it properly. This feature definitely helps with that!

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List Views Default to Last One Viewed: Another “feature” that’s always annoyed me is the “Recently Viewed” default list view on all objects, when 99% of the time I want to get to the view that I most recently looked at. Now I can!

Sales Path renamed to Path and Available for Custom ObjectsI always thought one of the cool features of Lightning Experience was the ability to configure Sales Path (now called Path) for Leads and Opportunities. I’m thrilled to hear that I can now create them for my custom objects as well to allow my users to take advantage of the same experience no matter my business process!

Customizable Kanban and Kanban on Custom Objects: Another feature I really liked about Lightning Experience was the brand new Kanban view. Previously only available on Opportunities and predefined to use group by stages and summarize by amount, I can now customize how my Kanban is displayed and use it on (almost) any object I want!

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URL Parameters in Reports: Too many times I’ve created a report, only to then have to create a separate report so I can save the one filter I’ve wanted applied to it or to send it to a co-worker. No more! Now you can add URL parameters in reports to filter them. It looks a little clunky at the moment but it seems like it will come in very handy!

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Debug Managed Packages in Subscriber Orgs: This might be my favorite new features in Spring ’17! The ability for ISVs to debug the managed packaged code in your org. I think there’s only one debugging session at a time, it can only be done in a sandbox, and the ISV is the only one with the permission to do it, but glad to see the option is there! I’m hoping this feature gets expanded in future releases.

Files in Folders: It may just be me, but I’ve always been annoyed about having one giant files repository. Now I can keep everything more organized!

Add Favorites: Similar to a favorites bar in your browser, Lightning Experience now gives you the options to favorite records, reports, dashboards, groups, and list views! I’m guessing we’ll see expansion on this feature in future releases as well

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Lightning Experience Quest for Parity

Wasn’t sure what to call this section but as Lightning Experience gets closer and closer to parity with Salesforce Classic (on top of adding a ton of cool new functionality!) the argument will become stronger for everyone to make the switch. I believe there were big updates in this release to Person Accounts, Quotes, and Orders but I don’t have too much experience with any of those so while I encourage you to check out the updates yourself, I’m not going to focus on them here. In my opinion, while there is still more work for Salesforce to do, all of these features definitely relieve a great deal of worry for my future using Lightning Experience.

Inline Editing in List Views: One of the biggest road blocks to switching to Lightning in my own primary dev org has been the lack of inline editing capability. That is possible now with Spring ’17!

Better Error Messages: Nothing is more frustrating than getting an error message that basically says “Something went wrong.” with no explanation or root cause identified. Salesforce has recognized this and improved the errors that show up while navigating the UI.

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Duplicate Management: I think this is a very underrated feature that I hope encourages to get built out and allow for increasing customizability. You can now add the Potential Duplicates component to your Lightning record pages as well as allow users to merge records.

To Be Determined but Love the Potential

This last section is for those items that I’m not sure are ready for prime time just yet, but I love the fact that they’re out there and am extremely excited for how they expand in releases to come!

Einstein: If you attended Dreamforce this year, or have been anywhere near the Salesforce ecosystem in the last few months, you’ll know that Salesforce Artificial Intelligence layer, Einstein, has now arrived! This release offers Lead Scoring, Account Insights, Opportunity Predictions and a few more things for an additional cost. If you’re like me and not quite ready to start using Einstein just yet, I highly recommend checking out the Trailhead modules on it at least!

Lightning API: Not exactly sure how I can put this to use just yet, and seems to only be available in Developer orgs but I’m betting that it will come in handy very soon! It appears to be similar to the Tooling API in that it allows you to create your own apps only with all the Lightning Experience metadata you could ask for.

Predictive Vision Service: I think this may fall under the Einstein/AI umbrella but I’m separating it out anyway. This was the feature that they demoed at Dreamforce where you could upload a bunch of beaches and mountains to train Einstein so that it could tell if you new pictures were of beaches or mountains with a certain level of certainty. Coming from SolarCity, I really loved the use case of being able to detect flat roofs vs. angled ones. I’m not quite sure how I’ll use this yet at my current role, but I like knowing that it’s there and hope to find a use at some point! For now I’ve signed up for the Developer Preview.

As always, this was a pretty heavy release and while I did my best to read most of the 466 pages, let me know if I missed anything awesome!

Salesforce Analyst Summit

To start off the new year, I had the pleasure of being invited to the Salesforce Analyst Summit 2017 in San Francisco. You can check out the full coverage at the hashtag #SalesforceAR but I’ll do my best to provide a good recap!

Unbeknownst to me, Salesforce has an entire Analyst Relations team that puts on their Analyst conference every year. Think the folks from Gartner, Forrester, etc. that analyze all types of software out there to compare them. This is their chance to hear about Salesforce directly from Salesforce!

Intro Overview

The first day was relatively short as most of the analysts were just arriving in town but it started off with a tremendous summary by Polly Sumner, Salesforce’s Chief Adoption Officer. She started off strong with some summaries of what she’s seeing from customers out there and what direction Salesforce is going to meet those customer needs. She had several great points such as “The person that responds to me the fastest has the highest chance of winning my business” and that companies are now asking themselves the question “What is our strategy so we don’t get Uber’d“. While many people, myself included, are doing our best to make predictions for 2017, Polly had a great summary with the overall Salesforce direction for the coming years.

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Among the things that Salesforce is focusing on for the coming year shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone:

  • Intelligence – in the form of Salesforce Einstein
  • Speed – in the form of the Salesforce Lightning Platform
  • Productivity – in the form of Quip
  • Mobility – in the form of Salesforce1
  • Connectivity – in the form of IoT Cloud on the Thunder platform

Polly also pointed out that while Salesforce has primarily focused on B2B (business to business) in the past, they are going to be taking a larger focus on B2C (business to consumer). She also raised the notion that all the products that the clouds focus on won’t be separate, but rather there will be customer specific specialists. “We’re in a world where people are going to cross over very quickly, the tools will enable them. You’ll have to become one of these modern companies or you may not be a company soon.” This notion of connecting all the products would become a common theme that I was happy to hear!

Equality

It wouldn’t be a Salesforce conference without a focus on Diversity and Equality. Salesforce invited none other than Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet to speak about his story and his mission. “How great to be a company to write these words and actually mean them… A corporation can be a platform for good in society. What is the magic of Salesforce? This is a big part of it.” – Tony Prophet

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Tony also shared some Salesforce transparency statistics and answered some questions from the crowd. He also shared that he believes that while Salesforce is nowhere near the finish line, they have made progress in diversity.

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Some highlights from the Tony Prophet Q&A:

Q1: How far Salesforce will to go in their equality stand in terms of investors and customers given the current political climate and not having everyone agree with you?

A1: “Over the arc of time, nothing bad can come from standing for good…These have been our values from the beginning of the company and they aren’t going to change based on politics” – Tony Prophet

Q2: Do you have any target numbers you’re looking to get to in terms of diversity?

A2: “We’re not done and there isn’t really a goal of setting a finish line but rather continual progress” – Tony Prophet

Einstein, Internet Of Things, and Commerce

The full day of coverage started off with 3 key components, starting with an overview of Salesforce Einstein by Einstein GM, John Ball. At a high level, they’re creating a bunch of different models for each customer and determine the most optimized one for that specific customer!

John also shared some of the current and future Einstein features coming down the road! I’m definitely excited to start getting my hands on some of these things and to see them in action. As Salesforce continues to develop this technology, I’m excited by its potential.

Next up was EVP and GM of IoT Cloud, Woodson Martin, to talk about what’s coming from Salesforce regarding the Internet of Things. The biggest take I got out of it was the tagline “Know your device. Know your customer. Connect the two”.

Since the devices don’t have the right context to make the right decisions for the customer experience, IoT Cloud seeks to bridge the gap between devices and customers. They also showed off a pretty sweet demo!

Salesforce then brought up CEO of Commerce Cloud (formerly DemandWare) Jeffrey Barnett and SVP of Product and Engineering Rohit Goyal. The biggest highlight for me was learning what Commerce Cloud really is and does!

It shocked me how many customers are already using it and their observation that in today’s environment, 1/4 of all transactions are touching multiple devices before completing.

To put it into perspective, Twitter averages a little over 300M users per month. John and Rohit also shared that they plan to add more opportunities to integrate Commerce Cloud with all the other clouds (continuing that theme of uniting the platform) as well as make more APIs public and leverage the existing Salesforce Developer community! I talked to Jeffrey and he said at this time there are no free Developer editions but hopefully that will change in the future.

A couple other topics that were discussed that weren’t of as much interest to me (but may be to you) were the focus on the different industries Salesforce is taking, the renaming of ISVs to AIPs (Application Innovation Partners), the notion that Salesforce is expecting a 10X increase in consultant demand by 2020, and the Salesforce Ignite program, that allows Salesforce to differentiate the customer experience by focusing on the human factor in addition to the business and technical sides that others solely focus on.

Salesforce Clouds

The final part of the day was dedicated to sharing info on the 6 key clouds, providing both an overview with some of the product leaders as well as drill down on the specific clouds. Here are my highlights on each one but you can check out more slide details on the #SalesforceAR hashtag!

Adam Blitzer – EVP and GM Sales and Service Cloud (@AdamBlitzer)

  • Taking what used to be manual and rules based and making it intelligence based
  • Sales Cloud Roadmap: Focusing on Lead to Cash, Intelligence, Inside Sales, and Productivity
  • Service Cloud Roadmap: Intelligence, Lightning, Conversation, Field Service
  • Q: What’s your hardest challenge?
  • A: A lot of directions we can go in. Hardest challenge is probably making the right bets. AI is the biggest opportunity we have, and business software in general has. Releasing AI is going to be a v1. It’ll be interesting when you put it in the hands of users to see if it meets expectations.

Matt Tippets – VP Marketing Cloud

  • Marketers will become the most responsible for managing customer journeys
  • Marketing Cloud Roadmap: AdTech and MarTech, Intelligence, B2C Transformation, Cross-Cloud Journeys

Ketan Karkhanis – SVP and GM Analytics Cloud (@karkhanis)

  • “No human being can analyze all the data out there. We can’t even ask all the questions”
  • “Analytics needs to be actionable and shape behaviors”

Mike Micucci – SVP and GM Community Cloud (@mikemicucci)

  • How do we extend the core of CRM and connect to customers and partners?
  • Community Cloud Roadmap: Personalized Experiences, Answers Einstein, 1:1 Engagement, Productivity

Adam Seligman – EVP and GM App Cloud (@adamse)

  • “Want to deliver a unified customer platform”
  • “Want Salesforce to be an incredibly friendly platform for programmers”
  • 1.6M Trailhead badges earned
  • App Cloud Roadmap: Lightning, Meta-tenancy, Data & Events, Developer Experience

One of my biggest takeaways was from the App Cloud drill-down. They talked about SalesforceDX and how they’re focusing on Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) for Developers right now, but the goal will be to developer an #AwesomeAdmin experience as well! It will be using Git and have the ability to rollback behind the scenes without having to expose the command line. I’m very excited for this to become a reality!

The day was concluded by talking with some of the Salesforce partners and talking about how much the Partner ecosystem has grown!

Summary

Last but certainly not least, the day was concluded with a fireside chat with none other than Salesforce co-founder Parker Harris. He took some Q&A that I unfortunately had to leave early for to make a work meeting but I got some good insight from him before I left!

“We do have these clouds but Engineering is one unit for us. We’re well positioned to get the people to work together. My job is to get the people to work together and execute the architecture across all of the business units” – Parker Harris

“It’s not just the products we’re creating but the culture that we have” – Parker on how Salesforce is so successful in recruiting in the competitive Silicon Valley

He also came back to the theme of unifying all the clouds to create one end-to-end experience. This is something that really excites me and reinforces the notion that Salesforce can be a complete customer platform rather than just specific products. Parker is confident that this will help sustain Salesforce’s growth as they hope to reach the coveted $10B mark in fiscal 2018 (Feb ’17-Jan ’18)!

2017 New Years Resolutions

 I’ve never been great at keeping (or sometimes even making for that matter) New Year’s Resolutions but as you’ll see by my #1 resolution for 2017, I figured this was as good a place as any to make some! Happy New Year to everyone! And now for my resolutions:

2017

1. Blog more 

I really dropped the ball on this one in the 2nd half of last year, I originally set out to do a blog post every 2 weeks and while I did do a couple guest posts for other blogs, I didn’t come close to that mark last year. I’m going to try to be more reasonable this year and try to do 1 blog post per month. We’ll see if I can keep it up!

2. Stay current on Trailhead

I fell way behind on this and lost the top spot on my own leaderboard! While it is ultimately all about learning rather than a competition, I want to make sure I’m staying current on the newest technology (in addition to being #1)

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3. Continue learning with more certifications

2016 was an ok year for me (by my standards), certification wise. I upgraded my Advanced Developer cert to Platform Developer I and II and took the first 2 steps in my Technical Architect Journey by achieving Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer and also the Sharing and Visibility Designer certs! I still have a long way to go though to catch up to some people!

In 2017, I’m going to focus on some of the other Architect Academy certs and also try to actually get into some of the Marketing topics! There are a bunch of Marketing Cloud and Pardot certifications and this is a great incentive for me to learn more about them!

4. Complete additional Technical Architect training

As mentioned, I made some progress in 2016 but I still have 3 more to go and 2 optional ones. I definitely have a lot of additional learning to do on Salesforce Identity and Access Management as well as how to architect Mobile Solutions!

Hoping I should have a good shot at the Data Architecture, Integration Architecture, and Community Cloud Consultant currently with some studying!

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5. Build my 1st production Lightning Component

I recently completed a pretty great Trailhead module on Lightning Components but I’ve yet to complete any of these in my day job. This is a little bit out of my control as it depends on the business needs but since some of my peers have been building some of these, and I have a better idea of how these work now, I’m hoping to build one (or at least help build one) myself in 2017!

6. Don’t spend so much time at the office

This is something that as a Type A perfectionist I struggle with, but I definitely want to spend some more time this year making friends and developing some hobbies. I signed up for Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass so I’m hoping he can teach me how to cook also!

7. Volunteer more

Being in a relatively stable position career wise and financially wise, I feel like as part of the Salesforce Ohana, it’s my duty to help those who haven’t been as privileged as I have. This year I had the pleasure of helping out as the first ever male coach in the RAD Women program teaching women to code as well as helping out an admin as part of Vetforce. I’m still trying to find additional ways to help out though so if anyone has any ideas, feel free to share them!

8. GymForce

Like many people, I have a desire to get in shape without enough motivation to do so. I was having a conversation with some about trying to find a way to make “Trailhead for the gym”. I’m sure there’s an app out there for game-i-fying working out so if anyone has any good suggestions let me know!

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17 is my lucky number (in case you were wondering why it’s in my Twitter handle) so here’s to a great ‘17! Feel free to share your goals and feel free to keep up the pressure on me to hold me to mine!