Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why I Compete In CloudSpokes Challenges

Kyle Thornton

Guest Blogger: Kyle Thornton

We'd like to welcome our first guest blogger, Kyle Thornton! Kyle is a salesforce.com admin, an admitted math and computer science geek and an avid support of CloudSpokes.


Kyle has been involved in three challenges so far and recently won our Email Upload Chatter Pictures to Picasa challenge.


I was chatting with Jeff Douglas a few days ago and he mentioned that he is keeping quite busy lately with the rapid growth of CloudSpokes and that they are looking to revamp the site. I asked if there was anything I could do to help and Jeff asked if I could write a guest post for the CloudSpokes blog. Clearly I accepted.

Jeff asked me to write about why I compete in the CloudSpokes Challenges and what I get out of them, so here it goes.

I am currently the sole Salesforce.com Admin at my company and Salesforce.com has been here since 2003, so the company is fairly set in their ways and there are’t a lot of new ideas that pop up. This means I am often working on minor changes and building reports, which is fine, but I don’t really get to “spread my wings.” When I came across CloudSpokes I saw an opportunity to take part in some challenges that would allow me to try, and more importantly learn, new things.

So far I have entered two challenges. The first challenge was developing a Generic Related List for Salesforce.com. As I began to research this, I came across Dynamic Bindings and was able to use this new feature to complete my entry for the challenge. Had it not been for the challenge, I may not have ever had a chance to learn how to use Dynamic Bindings. I ended up coming in second place to TehNrd who put together an amazing submission.

The second challenge I entered was to send Chatter images to Picasa Web Albums. Before this challenge was posted, I did not even know Picasa could accept images via email, but as I looked into the challenge, it seemed interesting. I was able to dig into FeedItems and FeedComments a bit to understand them more (my company hasn’t really adopted chatter, as much as I try) and I also learned how to create and send emails, with attachments, using apex. I am happy to say that my submission was a winning entry.

Although I have only entered 2 challenges, CloudSpokes has proven to be a good starting point to dive into other technologies. I am interested in both Twilio and iOS development as well as Ruby on Rails and contests geared towards these technologies have sparked my interest in branching out. I have gained some rudimentary knowledge in all three of these areas and hope to learn more in the future.

For me, CloudSpokes is a way to find use cases which I would never come across in my day to day job. By investigating the use cases and taking part in these challenges, I have a way to learn new things which I would never have the chance to learn otherwise. Oh, and the cash prizes are nice too.

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