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November 13, 2013

Dreamforce 2013: 7 must-attend events

By dreamforcehackathon_feat

This will be my 4th time attending, teaching and presenting at Dreamforce, the annual conference that takes over much of San Francisco’s downtown for one week in late fall.

Somewhere in my Microsoft centric past, I used to attend developer events like VBITS and Visual Studio Live, and was wowed by the gathering of a few thousand developers.

At my first Dreamforce in 2010, there were over 25,000 registrants. The next year it grew to over 40,000. In 2012, it hit 90,000, and this year the number projected is well over 100,000. Suffice to say that this event is, well, ginormous, for lack of a better word.

The greater percentage of attendees are typically focused on the various aspects of the CRM-specific Sales, Marketing and Service Cloud features, networking and breakout sessions. But it’s the developers that clearly always have the most fun.

Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran with the cloud platform, you can bury yourself for days in the Developer Zone, playing hands on with all aspects of the platform. Explore tutorials, mobile app dev walkthroughs, touch the Heroku cloud,, third-party products, productivity tools and countless other aspects of the platform. Or watch the continuous stream of lighting talks, covering countless developer topics, all with a focus on peer-to-peer, just-in-time (JIT) learning.
Compete in this year’s $1 Million Hackathon — yes, that’s a ONE MILLION dollar first prize — and choose from among the hundreds of developer breakout sessions for your favorite topics. The learning is non-stop.

Attend one of the Hands on Training (HOT) sessions, guided tutorials by a certified technical instructor (like me), where over 200 people in a room, each on a provided laptop, are guided through a practical tutorial. My favorites will be on Canvas application integration, and an Android mobile build session.
Of course, there’s no hope in escaping the overload factor, so here’s my ‘must attend’ short list, (most dev sessions are captured and made available on YouTube soon after):

  1. Attend Marc Benioff’s keynote, either live or watch streamed in many breakout rooms, or even on the web, to avoid the crush of the main auditorium.
  2. Definitely attend the “Developer” and “Platform” keynote sessions to get the latest news on the “State of the Platform” (last year this was where Dan Appleman’s Advanced Apex book was handed out, and this year you may see the second edition and his new book Visualforce in Practice with content by other MVPs and veteran developers.)
  3. Sign up for the “Meet the Developers” session for very informative and interactive conversation with the technical team leads, usually on the last day.
  4. Definitely stop by the Pluralsight session, where authors of the first courses may be taking suggestions for future course topics for the growing Pluralsight library.
  5. Hang out as much as possible in the Developer Zone, rubbing shoulders with members of the Develop Relations team, the developer evangelists, the MVPs, and the thousands of developers from around the globe drawn to this magnetic cloud platform.
  6. You might want to spend some time in the expo checking out the different product offerings, and to talk directly to ISVs for some perspective on why they’ve hitched their wagons to this platform and its dedicated customer base.
  7. Don’t forget the parties. And the parties. And the parties. Oh, and did I mention the parties?

And most important, get to know the Dreamforce app where everyone attending has online presence. Scan the hundreds of Chatter groups for topics of interest. You can seek out and network with countless other developers that share your specific focus and are eager to learn in collaboration with their peers, (not to mention the opportunities to network with potential customers.)

Absolutely nothing compares to the collaborative nature of this platform, both technically and culturally; whether developer, administrator, user, ISV, enterprise CEO, CTO, sales executive or nonprofit mogul out to change the world.

Here’s a link to sign up for a free limited registration for some developer centric content:

And if you want some pre-conference perspective on the platform, check out some of the Pluralsight courses before you go:

Don Robins: Platform – The Big Picture
Dan Appleman: for .NET Developers
Richard Seroter: for Developers

Just like the platform, you have to experience Dreamforce to fully understand it. And make sure you plan to take off the full Thanksgiving week to recover; you’re gonna need it.

See you at DF13!

About the Author

has designed, developed and delivered custom business applications for clients of all sizes and industries for over two decades, and more recently focused on technical instruction, integration and mobile development on the platform. Certified as a Advanced Developer and an award winning Technical Instructor, he's been published in the developer portal, and has presented and taught at annual Dreamforce conferences since 2010. He regularly delivers the developer classes and workshops around the US and abroad when not consulting or mentoring privately. He has been very involved in developer community since 1986, founded the San Francisco .NET DUG in 2002, and continues his community involvement by co-leading the official Bay Area Salesforce Developers User Group in San Francisco. He has been a principal of Outformations, Inc. since 2000, and trains under the banner of

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