In Praise of "Clicks not Code"
I want to take a moment to step back and marvel at something: We regularly use the phrase "accidental admin" in the Salesforce community. And we use it to refer to people for whom this is now a significant part of their job, if not their whole job.
Think about that for a moment.
Even if it's not everyone and even though we all know there is quite a lot of diligence and learning required to go from being volun-told that you are going to work with this new system to understanding how to truly be an #AwesomeAdmin, there are plenty of people whose careers took off because they stumbled on Salesforce. They aren't aspiring coders that found Apex instead of Python. They aren't aspiring systems designers that happen to work with Salesforce rather than Microsoft Dynamics. These are usually non-technical people that realized their organization had a need and found that they could make a custom application to meet that need using Salesforce.
Do you regularly hear of "accidental auto mechanics" or "accidental mobile app developers"? No, you do not. I believe lots of people could study cars or coding and could learn enough to become mechanics or developers. But people don't "fall into" those things. People do, however, "fall into" Salesforce and then turn that into a career.
Lots of people take the tools at their disposal and string together "systems" to accomplish their work. That might mean a Google Form that feeds a shared document along with outbound communication from a common email address, plus who-knows-what-else. They get it done. Nonprofits, in particular, are scrappy and Can Do like that. Small businesses too. But once you've created that process, trained your colleagues how to use it, let it run for a while, and patched the problems that crop up, you still don't have anything coherent to add to your résumé.
Thanks to free training like Trailhead, the ability to spin up as many developer orgs/trial orgs/Trailhead Playgrounds as you want, the help and support of the generous Salesforce community, and—most crucially—the fact that Salesforce's back end is pretty easy to work with, it's not just possible but relatively common for the person in charge of that mishmash "system" to upgrade and move it onto Salesforce. You can not only list that on your résumé, you can even get your next job doing it full time.
Can we pause to appreciate how marvelous that is?
Where Credit Is Due
I wish I knew who to thank for this directly. (I suspect the credit goes mainly to Parker Harris.) Someone had a vision for making Salesforce's back end accessible and the overall platform deeply customizable using "clicks not code." Salesforce teams from product managers to coders should share in the glory because they helped turn it into reality and continue to expand that vision. It's amazing! This did not come about by accident—Salesforce was and is designed to be easy to customize without writing code.
And because of that, more people can work on the platform. The community would not be nearly as dynamic without the tens of thousands of people that build and configure but do not understand a single line of code. Maybe it's even better because so many non-technical people get involved: they have questions and people help them with answers.
I have a certain level of technical aptitude, but I do not code. The closest I came to code was hand-writing HTML for websites back in the 1990s. (And I never enjoyed that.) Still, in 2012 I was able to pick up Salesforce and, with help from the community, make it work the way I needed and my colleagues could understand. I'd tried similar things at previous positions using MS Access and FileMaker without nearly the same kind of success.
Leading with Gratitude
That's all I wanted to say this week: Thank you, Salesforce, for making this thing that has brought together a community and empowered careers.
I may ask challenging questions at True to the Core and I might write about some difficult subjects on this blog. But I also hold it in my heart that this platform, this technology product, is something special.