From Learning to Code to Writing a Book on App Development: A Trailblazer’s Journey
Exclusive Interview with Mohith Shrivastava
Mohith Shrivastava, author of the new book Learning to Develop Apps on the Salesforce Lightning Platform shares tips on starting a career as a Lightning App Developer. He also explains how you can quickly advance your skills to create engaging digital experiences and business-changing apps.
Mohith is a technical architect at CodeScience, a company that helps customers build AppExchange applications on Salesforce. When a company or individual has an idea for an app, CodeScience assists them every step of the way. Mohith and his team help with everything from planning and design, to finalizing and publishing the app on AppExchange — the world’s largest business app marketplace.
When Mohith joined CodeScience, his initial focus was to become familiar with the market and the problems CodeScience clients were trying to solve. As more businesses bolted their growth levers on to the Salesforce Ecosystem, Mohith helped them design apps with unique features that had different look and feel, functionality, and data requirements. Very quickly, he found himself building fully-functional, business-changing apps that would reach thousands of Salesforce customers.
The Act of Giving Back
After significantly improving his app development skills in just a few years, Mohith decided to write a book and share his knowledge of building apps on Salesforce’s Lightning Platform.
“The aim of this book is to help our developer community increase their base knowledge of the Salesforce’s new Lightning Application Development Platform.
The overall idea is to help those who want to become Lightning app developers understand the fundamentals and quickly advance their skills to build highly customized solutions — something that was previously only available to professional developers. In essence, this book bridges the gap between the skills of a Citizen Developer and those of a Professional Developer.”
What is a Citizen Developer?
Ultimately, all the requests for apps come from within the business. So if each department has the tools to build the apps themselves — without having to first reach out to IT — then development time shrinks significantly.
“One of the things Salesforce offers you is Lighting App Builder, where you can drag and drop the components that Salesforce provides out of box for you to solve that particular problem. There’s a component if you want to show all the details about an object, if you want to show the related list, or use flows to configure business logic, make screens, forms, and more.
Citizen Developers are the next frontier of application development in the enterprise. This movement essentially democratizes application development and makes it available to non-technical people. Platforms like Lightning are the tools business people need to ride this new wave of IT.”
Advancing the Rank from ‘Citizen’ to Professional
Of course, for many Citizen Developers, their foray into application development is just to meet a business need in order to do their day jobs.
But for some, Citizen Development becomes something they really enjoy. They treat it like a hobby and start discovering more ways to customize apps — for example, adding AI or integrating data from other systems.
For such developers, Mohith’s book is perfect. It helps them take their customization chops to the next level by showing how they can use the Lightning component framework to add building blocks, customize the user interface, and more!
Additionally, the book goes into the basics of using SalesforceDX — Salesforce’s environment for source-driven development which makes it super easy to build and update apps at scale.
For Business and IT Leaders: Where to Find Developer Talent
Mohith’s advice is:
“The best resource is online communities. Whether that’s a Salesforce’s Trailblazer Community, or just Stack Exchange. Within these communities where a lot of people collaborate, you will find people who force their queries and community members to actually step in and help with the solving of that particular problem. Those would be my go-to resources to find talent because you really can look into each profile, see how many answers they have submitted, and what the quality of the answers are. There is little chance of going wrong when you hire someone from a community like that because you can actually see their resourcefulness and immediate knowledge.
The second way is looking at some of the open-source projects. So, we can go to something like GitHub and look for some of those open-source projects on Salesforce and find who actually authored them, who are the contributors, and find out about their journey. You can find a lot of talent here because they actually have the experience of building an open-source application and using the technology. ”
Advice for Developers-to-Be?
“Yes! Obviously the first few days of anything that you learn is going to be challenging, whether it is driving or learning to develop an application. It’s always going to be challenging trying to learn new things, but it gets easier the more you learn, especially if you pay proper attention. Continuously improving on your skill set is one of the things I would advise, meaning try and really work on actual projects rather than just reading stuff.
One of the things that I’ve observed is when you actually learn by doing in software, you try to understand things in a more holistic manner — the deeper you go, the more your interest and curiosity levels increase. So be curious.
Go and actually build things. Act upon it rather than just reading and forgetting about what you read.”
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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.