Andrew Chen, Scott Covert, Martin Glauber, and Chuck Ross

Return to the Copper State

Tython kicked off 2024 by reconvening in Arizona for the annual Cactusforce conference held for Salesforce developers and architects. Whereas last year the event was held in downtown Phoenix, this year’s action took place in nearby Scottsdale. Even more monumental for the team, all four members were able to meet in person for the first time!

The conference opened with a welcome event held at nearby Fate Brewing that offered great drinks, food, and company - even if we had a little trouble deciding which camera to look at! :smile:

Welcome Event Team Photo

Down the Rabbit Hole

Scott Covert

The content presented at Cactusforce is intentionally technical and developer-oriented. I had the pleasure this year of leading my own two-part session covering the tradeoffs of different OAuth flows available to ISVs that have loopback integrations embedded in their application to call Salesforce APIs from Apex.

OAuth Orchestration

This topic deserves a post or two of its own so stay tuned for future write-ups on the subject. In the meantime, you can watch the session recording!

David Schach and Chuck Liddell were panelists at the session (thanks again, guys!). Chuck also had a session of his own on designing data facades for deeply-nested data integrations that was very interesting for anyone who has experienced the joy of parsing JSON in Apex. Chuck and his team built out a solution to the problem of a never ending series of statements that cast results to Map<String,Object> that we see too often in this scenario.

Always Learning

Martin Glauber

One of the event organizers, Steve Simpson, also gave a good talk about the journey to becoming a Technical Architect. The recording of it is available here. I went to his talk at last year’s Cactusforce too, and it’s always nice to hear someone speak so passionately about learning Salesforce. Listening to his talks always motivates me to continue learning new things and pushing my knowledge beyond just what I need to know to handle the tasks at hand.

Getting Comfortable with AI

Chuck Ross & Andrew Chen

We’ve all noticed the rise of AI technologies in the last few years, and Karthik Nallajalla showed us how GitHub Copilot can integrate with Salesforce’s favorite IDE, VS Code, to more quickly build apps using the vast open source software Copilot has access to. While there’s understandable concern over AI and its implementations, there’s no escaping it in our field. Salesforce themselves just finished hosting a heavily AI themed TrailblazerDX (more on that in a future post).

One example Karthik highlighted was the ability for Copilot to write unit tests, and a helpful audience member brought up the point that such generated code is only really testing what the code already does, rather than what it should do. The major theme of using AI to generate code is that it’s a first draft that must be checked, just as if you’re reviewing the code of a junior developer. Indeed, one Tython member in particular, Andrew, has made regular use of both ChatGPT and Github Copilot. According to him “so far, the unit test generation is mostly good for very simple asserts or the quick-and-lazy first-pass.”

On Copilot’s code-completion abilities however, “it is almost eerie how good it already is, often nailing what you want, and seemingly learning patterns in the codebase as you actively work on it”. Hopefully Salesforce can leverage all their platform knowledge and take this functionality up another notch with Einstein for Developers (currently in beta)! It’ll be fun to experiment further with both Copilot as well as Einstein as they evolve.

Closing Keynote

Scott Covert

Of course I love the technical sessions that Cactusforce offers, but I also really liked the closing keynote this year. We wrapped up the conference this year with a fireside chat between Leah McGowen-Hare from Salesforce and Marisa Hambleton, who puts on the conference each year. I’ve always found Leah to be a very enaging speaker so if you’re ever at a future Salesforce conference where she has a session I’d definitely recommend attending.

Closing Keynote

The conversation touched on a wide range of topics including Leah’s career path to Salesforce, imposter syndrome, and predictions on the impact AI will have on the future of our industry.

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

As always, the Tython team really enjoyed our time at Cactusforce and so it was hard to say goodbye. A big thank you to all the sponsors and organizers that continue to support this conference for developers and architects like us in the Salesforce ecosystem. We look forward to attending in the years ahead!

Team Photo - Mural

Couldn’t make it to Cactusforce this year? Reach out and we’d be happy to fill you in on what you missed!