The Best Way to Learn Salesforce Apex
Talk to any Salesforce Administrator and most likely they are not interested in learning Apex. That is part of the draw of jumping into the Salesforce Administrator track; you could become skilled in the technology with “Clicks Not Code.”
Lost in Translation
Even though I liked being a Salesforce Administrator, I tried learning how to code because I thought that I would enjoy it. Learning to code is similar to learning a language; with my mathematics background and love for languages, I thought that coding would be a cinch.
But every time I tried to learn Apex on Trailhead or any other online course, I easily got frustrated or bored. I tried to Google my errors. I talked to other Salesforce Administrators, but they didn’t know Apex that well either. I didn’t want to bother my Salesforce Developer friends with my noob questions. I decided that I would just stay in my lane and leave the coding to the experts.
After a year as a Salesforce Administrator, I started to notice a glaring gap in my Salesforce knowledge. As a client’s platform became more sophisticated, we started consulting Salesforce developers for solutions. The problem was that I couldn’t understand what the developers were saying — it was like we were speaking two different languages. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to charade my way out of the confusion, which is my go-to strategy when I’m traveling in a foreign country.
As a Salesforce Administrator and Business Analyst, I saw it as my responsibility to be the translator between the client and the Salesforce platform. I felt uncomfortable with agreeing to build a solution that I didn’t fully understand. Yet, I really didn’t want to learn Apex.
Then COVID-19 shut down the world in March 2020.
Around the same time, I saw David Liu’s post on LinkedIn: for all of April 2020, his Apex Academy course was going to be 100% free to the public. Since we were in full quarantine and I couldn’t pass up a free opportunity, I completed his course that month and I’m sharing my reflections with a year later.
Was David Liu’s Apex Academy Course worth my time? Yes.
Did I become fluent in Apex? No, but…
The course won’t make you an Apex expert, but it will make you believe that you could be.
This course is a great place to start learning Apex, especially if you’re wary about coding like me. David is a fantastic teacher; he breaks things down into simple, digestible parts and he’s pretty funny if you’re into self-deprecating humor. His course is well-paced and there’s lots of opportunities for practice. When you see your code working for the first time, it’s a great feeling. There are a number of students who went through the course, and left helpful comments and questions to support you through the challenges.
Here are three ways that the course can directly benefit you:
- You will understand the power of Apex and know when to use it — and when not to. Just knowing what Apex can do is a useful skill because you will eventually run into that wall where declarative actions won’t cut it. However, don’t pull out the big guns when it’s not necessary. Even though you could use Apex as a solution, that doesn’t mean you should. As the Salesforce Administrator/Business Analyst/Consultant/Project Manager, you are more likely to work closely with the client, so advocate for simple solutions when possible.
- You will learn a few tricks you can use right away. Before David’s course, I never touched the Developer Console because I was afraid of breaking something. After David’s course, I knew what to do when a developer sent me a script to run in the console, which allowed me to run more tests. I also became a huge fan of querying data (yay for SOQL!). Translation: you can quickly view data in its raw form rather than running a report. Such a huge time saver!
- You will be able to read basic Apex. It’s actually a friendly coding language. Even with just basic knowledge of Apex, you’ll be able to read code and troubleshoot issues. Here’s a real life example: an automation wasn’t firing so I reviewed the code, and saw that one of the criteria was written incorrectly (instead of ‘Open’ it was set to ‘Closed’). Being able to troubleshoot on my own resolved the issue quickly and saved the developers’ time.
David’s course had lasting effects on my Salesforce knowledge. Even though I didn’t interact with Apex on a regular basis, I still remembered what I learned a year later! I navigated highly technical conversations with Salesforce developers and asked questions (fine, a LOT of questions) even when I felt like I was slowing down the conversation. Fortunately, I’ve worked with Salesforce developers who appreciated my questions because they led to thoughtful conversations beyond discussing the solution.
If you missed out on the deal in April 2020, then I have good news — David is offering his Apex Academy course again for free for the month of April 2021! If you missed the April 2021 deal as well, but you’re committed to learning Apex, then I would strongly consider investing in his course. I’m not being paid to endorse his course; I honestly believe that it’s one of the best resources out there to learn Apex.
And David, if you’re reading this, let’s collab sometime.
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