Salesforce London’s Calling 2018: Todd Talks Einstein and Offline Mobile Apps

rsz_28423962_2013726415548367_5500423501217783306_oLast month, the third annual edition of Europe’s largest community-led event for Salesforce professionals took place in London. London’s Calling is an event designed to bring together anyone working with Salesforce to network, share ideas, solve problems, and learn new skills

We were particularly excited about the event, as our Lead Mobile Technical Architect, Todd Halfpenny, was not only part of the team in charge, but was also presenting for the third year running.

The rest of the great organising and volunteering team was diverse, including Simon Goodyear, Kerry Townsend, Amanda Beard-Neilson, Francis Pindar, Jodi Wagner, and Lauren Touyet. We’re very proud of our contribution to these Salesforce community events, which also extends to our sponsorship of the London Developer User Group.

2018 was the best year yet

The event seems to be getting bigger and better every year, and 2018 promised plenty of interesting attractions and engaging sessions for attendees to get involved in.

None more so than the fantastic keynote from Dr Sue Black, OBE, which concluded the day. Dr Black is one of the top 50 women in tech in Europe, so it was a great honour to see her address a crowd full of people deeply immersed in her area of expertise. Her personal story of success was an inspirational one, and a perfect note to finish on.

Some other notable sessions earlier in the day included David Walsh, who works for one of MobileCaddy’s strategic partners, Appirio (part of the Wipro Group). He explained the implications which the forthcoming GDPR will have on Salesforce professionals. Salesforce MVP, Paul Battison, also gave a demonstration building a Heroku app with a Lightning component, and integrating it with Platform Events.

Hello Einstein, London’s Calling!

Contrary to our hopeful pre-event write up, mobile was a topic which didn’t feature too heavily at this year’s London’s Calling, despite there being a rapidly growing demand for advanced mobile solutions among the Salesforce customers and partners we’re talking to.

One session which did have a mobile theme to it was, unsurprisingly, delivered by our very own Todd Halfpenny, who presented Einstein Answering Kenny Rogers with an Offline Mobile App.

Real-world examples of using Salesforce Einstein services are still thin on the ground, so partners and users need to start experimenting with it and push the boundaries of what it’s believed to be capable of.

Todd highlighted a great use case for mobile service engineers, but it’s important to remember that there are innovative ways to leverage AI technology which haven’t even been thought of yet. You can view the full presentation here:

Further thoughts on Salesforce mobile

Another session which looked at the topic closest to our hearts was presented by BrightGen CTO Keir Bowden, and was titled No Connection, No Problem! Keir demonstrated how to use the Salesforce Mobile SDK with offline support, to allow users to complete simple training modules regardless of whether they’re online or offline.

Our CEO Justin Halfpenny caught the session, and commented that Keir’s thoughts mirrored our own regarding how the client, and sometimes systems integrators, believe that offline and network resilient behaviour will just happen.

The basis of Keir’s talk was a thorough walkthrough of a simple demo app that he’d built with the Cordova version of the Salesforce SDK. He covered some use cases of the APIs, and approaches that can be taken with them. But dealing with the SDK at this level can be quite raw, and a great deal of careful thought needs to go into getting even a basic use case working.

Justin said, “Given the huge amount of work needed to get just a small app working, it’s no wonder partners give mobile a wide berth when trying to build right on the Salesforce Mobile SDK.”

As good as the SDK is, to use it without an application delivery framework such as MobileCaddy seems like you’re missing a huge advantage step, and making life much harder for yourself.

At a JavaScript level, Keir mentioned that using promises would be good in your JavaScript when building a mobile app, but he did say that this should be avoided due to webviews out of date. In fact, this issue is shrinking now that Cordova apps have access to the latest webview supported by the browser on the device, for all but the very oldest mobile phones.

He also mentioned that if you’re going on the custom-build journey, you should use the latest Salesforce Mobile SDK. Although we’d agree in principle, our experience has shown that the SDK releases are seldom without bugs. We’d highly recommend a very broad and deep testing strategy, like we have here at MobileCaddy, if you’re going to do this.

Looking ahead to London’s Calling 2019

It’s worth noting that these community-led events are very different to the shows Salesforce puts on, like their blockbuster World Tours. The atmosphere, as well as the intention, of these events is not focused on marketing or selling products, but rather to exchange knowledge and share experiences.

However, we were surprised at the lack of C-level management in attendance this year, along with what seemed to be only a handful of lead TAs. For us it seemed a bit peculiar, since the grade of expertise in attendance, and thus the networking opportunities, would more than justify their time.

If you’re yet to attend a London’s Calling event, we couldn’t recommend them more highly. Don’t hesitate to get yourself a ticket next year (they always sell out), and in the meantime feel free to get involved in the discussion on social media.

There are a whole host of other valuable dates to put in the diary throughout the year within the Salesforce community as well. Keep an eye out for other events, such as Southeast Dreamin’ (Atlanta), dreamOlé (Barcelona), and of course a whole host of local meet-ups.

 

Photo credit: Ed Telling Photography 

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