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Learn What Platforms Can Do For You: Mini-Hacks

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Free hands-on training and plenty of developer sessions are what you'll find at the Cloudstock portion of the Cloudforce 2012 tour, which is landing in London on May 22.  

One of these sessions will be presented by Quinton Wall, a developer evangelist for Salesforce.com specializing in custom applications built on the Salesforce platform. He's been designing and building applications since 1995 when he was one of the founding members of the Australian Java Users Group. Since that time he has worked throughout the world, with a specific focus on building internet-based applications, with the past 4 years being exclusively dedicated to cloud computing. He currently does Ruby development on Heroku, iOS programming, and defines blueprints for Social Enterprise applications.  We had the chance to interview him before the conference and here is what he had to say...

DZone: What will your session at Cloudstock be about?

Quinton Wall: I am going to be speaking about the Chatter REST API and how, with the Social Enterprise, every applications should be more engaging and customer-orientated. When you start thinking about a where where even legacy systems can be social, the opportunities to build these new apps is huge. During the session, I am  going to present a number of use cases to identify when you can make your apps social, and then spend the rest of the session showing developers how to use the Chatter REST API.

DZone: What are some of the most innovative creations you've seen by developers who are building social enterprise apps?

Quinton: Let me answer it a slightly different way. Cloud computing is now a proven, and trusted model for building custom applications in the cloud. We have been doing this for years with Force.com, and more recently with Heroku. When we start looking at what a social enterprise app actually means to developers however, I feel there is a massive opportunity to build upon the power of cloud computing, and marry this with social networking paradigms made mainstream by consumer sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But the enterprise needs something different , and for a developer, this difference is where we can really creative innovative solutions.

Imagine an application that builds strong brand engagement through real-time integration with backend systems that can participate in a conversation (records proactively informing you when inventory items run low for example), are completely elastic in scale to support the rapid growth companies are striving for, and all of this is mobile aware, and available on any device.

All of a sudden, you as a developer are not looking at a specific language or technology - you might decide that Node.js running on Heroku is what you need for multi-threading, and Database.com for rich, profile based data services, and HTML5 for mobile development - the technology should be the enabler. When I start thinking about applications independent of  specific technologies and look at them more with the concept of a social profile for your customers as the central focus, all of a sudden, the importance of collaboration, open APIs, and engagement become key.

DZone: What else are you excited about to see/attend/do at Cloudstock?

Quinton: I like anything that is hands-on.   I want to build something, and learn what the platform can do for me. For me, the best part is definitely the mini-hacks. Mini-hacks are a pretty new addition to our events, but amazingly fun. After Dreamforce last year, we realized that many developers would love to do more hackathons, but don't want to miss out on everything else that is going on at the event; the mini-hacks are small bite-sized challenges that you can get in, code, and complete quickly with the added benefit of trying to complete as many as you can. I hear we have some awesome prizes this year for the people who complete the most challenges.

DZone: Summer '12, the next major release of Force.com is due mid-June. Are there any exciting features you think developers should pay special attention too, and why?

Quinton: For me, it is definitely the changes in the developer console. Over the past few releases, developer console has become my go-to place for coding on the Force.com platform. Summer '12 introduces a lot more features including improved syntax highlighting, workspaces, and improvements for debugging heap dumps. The other area I am watching is the enhancements to Visual Workflow, in particular sub-flows, which lets developers simply , and encapsulate flow logic. This is going to be a huge improvement, and the start of a whole new way to create re-usable apps on Force.com

For more details about the session and the conference, go to the Cloudstock information page.

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