How to Learn Salesforce on Pluralsight
Before you read: note that this is the author's personal opinion and not the guidance or opinion of Pluralsight. Having said that...
When I began my career, fewer resources existed like Pluralsight - a platform that contains thousands of hours of content around almost any popular technology that has higher quality production value produced by subject matter experts. On Salesforce, there were only a few courses offered when I first started and so I had to seek out resources a lot of other places. But everything has changed, and it is now possible today to learn a ton of Salesforce skills entirely within Pluralsight.
Originally, while Salesforce was the first technology that attracted me to Pluralsight, I ended up keeping the subscription for years and carried on to a lot of other technologies. I built out my first web service using content from the site, learned a lot about backend development, brushed up on Python as a language (almost overnight), and lots of other skills since.
So, know that while I outline a path here that might allow you to tackle Salesforce, you may go on after looking at this list and discover something else super awesome too. After all, there are tons of Salesforce focused blogs out there now, Trailhead, which is the official learning platform for Salesforce, and hours of video on YouTube.
What I am focused on here is fully leveraging your Pluralsight membership. I'll tell you exactly how to begin building your career using nothing but Pluralsight courses and your own self directed learning.
SUPER IMPORTANT BEFORE YOU PROCEED: you CANNOT watch only the video material in these courses and expect to walk away with skills. You have to do hands-on exercises and take some time in between each of these courses to experiment on your own by creating apps: if you can do this on the job somehow then all the better.
Salesforce From Scratch
This article assumes that you are beginning Salesforce from nothing. The assumption is that you should be able to start learning Salesforce on Pluralsight and pick up a vast array of skills on the platform such that you become effective, or even dangerous!
Salesforce Administration: The Big Picture - your starting point for all things Salesforce. This will take you through the platform at a high level while introducing you to some extremely important core details like how data works on the platform, how users interact with it, how reporting works, and what tools are available for automation.
Building Your First Salesforce Application will take you through your very first days getting hands on with creating functionality on the platform, and Scott Allen does a great job here of taking you through each step.
Once you have gotten through the big picture introduction and moved through the first application course, you should tackle the admin related tools for automation and reporting in these courses (which you do not need to take in any particular order). It is important to address your skills in these fundamentals even if you're planning on taking on the developer mantle: the reason is that going the other direction will have long term drawbacks which I explain more about later in this article.
- Salesforce Workflow: Getting Started
- Salesforce Process Builder: Getting Started
- Salesforce Accidental Admin: Reports & Dashboards in Classic and Lightning
- Play by Play: Salesforce Admin Essential Testing Techniques
- Play by Play: Crafting Audience Experience with Salesforce Communities
- Play by Play: Knowing When to Code in Salesforce
- Formula Fundamentals in Salesforce
Building On the Admin Track
It is extremely common for those launching into a Salesforce career to start with obtaining the Salesforce Administrator certification. This makes a lot of sense: the admin cert is sought after by job recruiters as a means of quickly filtering through the available pool of candidates, it is often expected as something along the lines of a base level credential, and it will help anyone wanting to obtain additional certs by giving them a foundation to build on.
Many folks are also happy to just stop at being an Admin and embrace the role as a job for many years. I can understand why: you get to learn new things all the time, you wield a huge amount of power through an ever expanding toolset as Salesforce makes improvements, and if you just cannot stand writing code one still receives an immersive experience in technology without the headaches of troubleshooting bugs or taking on absurdly challenging technical issues at the level of minutia at times.
Many Admins also go on to become Project Managers who lead the way on teams that are Salesforce platform centric while having an intimate knowledge of the platform essentials and unique challenges that Salesforce holds. For those that are more development oriented, they may start as Admins and then get hands-on enough that they pursue becoming a Solution and System Architects, or even a Salesforce Technical Architect.
Developers, Developers, Developers!
Such were the infamous words of Microsoft's ex-CEO Steve Ballmer in a viral internet clip that many are not going to remember. His exclamation of the people at the time was basically justified: developers are problem solvers that often do not get the appreciation they deserve (I am not bitter at all, really, honestly). For Salesforce, the story of coming from other programming languages and technologies while already starting as a developer doing something else is common.
The problem for those that approach Salesforce from the standpoint of already being a programmer is that Salesforce is deceptive in its appearance: its primary backend language called Apex looks like Java... but if you go in thinking it is precisely the same you will be painfully mistaken. You must know the platform essentials first, and this is why Salesforce Developers are better off starting as becoming Admins. For those who ignore the Admin skills off the bat they will be at a significant disadvantage.
The reasons for the disadvantage of writing code first and asking platform capability questions later include: doing more work than you have to by writing code when it is not necessary, hitting platform limits without realizing the intracies of its governor limits, and generally speaking trying to throw code at everything without realizing you have a lot more options.
That being said, it is my opinion that you should knock out the Admin courses mentioned above and then proceed onward to Salesforce code. I was still basically brand new to coding when I first started learning Salesforce: I did a tiny bit of Microsoft Excel macros in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) before I wrote my first Apex code but writing VBA followed by Apex made little difference. I still have a steep mountain to climb in learning Apex.
Even if you already know one, or several programming languages, I recommend you still take the following Pluralsight courses, in this exact order:
- Apex Academy: Absolute Beginner's Guide to Coding in Salesforce
- Apex Academy: The Power of SOQL
- Force.com and Apex Fundamentals for Developers
- Apex Academy: Fundamental Salesforce Coding Techniques
- Customizing Salesforce with Lightning Components: Getting Started
- Getting Started with Asynchronous Apex on Force.com
- Play by Play: Salesforce Integration on a Budget
- Play by Play: Authenticating External App and Service Integrations with Salesforce
Again, in line with the warning stated above: you must take time to practice writing code and improving your skills during and in between each course listed above. There is no substitute for wisdom through experience, and experience itself will shine light on when to use what. That is true of any track you may take, of course.
Thank you for reading and for pursuing the right way to develop yourself in this new career chapter of yours in Salesforce. It is clear that Salesforce shares many similarities with other technologies in the not too distant past that saw a meteoric rise and Salesforce will be no exception. From the time this article is being written: the opportunities are grand. My hope with this post is that it provides some clarity on how to attack your path in Salesforce from the standpoint of Pluralsight, and using it as a resource alongside other freely available resources out there. Good luck, although I know that with all these learning resources - it will not be about luck, just your resolve.