My Journey Up Apex Mountain: Preparation

Hidden TrailAs a nonprofit Salesforce consultant, I have intentionally avoided using Salesforce custom code solutions in my clients’ instances, including Apex and Visualforce. The reason: I didn’t want to build anything my clients couldn’t easily maintain on their own at a reasonable cost. I take the build, buy, or customize decision seriously, and luckily for nonprofits many AppExchange apps are deeply discounted for them (thank you app builders!), and Salesforce is so easy to customize with clicks, not code, that the need to ‘build’ with custom code is rare.

So why prepare myself to learn Apex? And would it leave me feeling like this?

Because I wanted to know:

  • What am I missing?
  • Why do so few women do this?
  • Is it really so scary?
  • If I learn Apex will it hold the keys to the universe???

I also like a good challenge. So, I started a couple of years ago by failing. I took several ‘Apex for Admins’ type classes (I don’t remember the exact names, so please don’t quote me), and I couldn’t remember a darn thing. You see, I don’t have a CS (Computer Science) degree, and I don’t know html. I pretty much avoided it in previous jobs and made it so I didn’t really need to know it. So that means I knew no coding languages, no CSS, and couldn’t even tell you what CSS was.

So, a few minutes in to these beginner Apex classes, I was completely lost. I didn’t know what a for loop was and I couldn’t tell you anything about a variable other than using it in a sentence as a vocabulary word. And to make it worse, I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t following along. And I was sad because I wasn’t able to answer any of the questions that would earn me a free t-shirt. = (

So then I went to a networking event (a rare occurrence in my introverted life) and I learned about Girl Develop It:

What else will cross my trail ahead?

What else will cross my trail ahead?

an organization for women learning to code. I thought: that sounds like what I need! I looked up the local chapter, and attended a class on user experience and design (since I’m already passionate about user testing*, this was an easy transition for me). I had a great experience and I learned so much! Then I stepped it up and took an html and css workshop. I learned more things! I used it to improve my web site!

Then one day I decided to really up my game and start taking the Girl Develop It javaScript series. And it was great! The curriculum was well designed, the classroom environment was supportive and challenging, and my classmates were thoughtful and engaging. While I can’t say I remember everything from learning my first coding language last summer, I can say this: I learned that coding is about:

  • Problem solving
  • Asking for and looking for help and
  • Being will to try new things and experiment

And guess what… I can do those things!

So… how did you prepare for your journey up Apex mountain when you were getting started?

*Shameless plug: Come to my session at Dreamforce! Sign up here: Test for Success: 5 Steps to Usability Testing Success.

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