TrailheadDX 2019 - first impressions

There was no mistaking: I was at a Salesforce conference keynote!

By Barbara Christensen | June 3, 2019 |

The ushers had light batons, party versions of the kind they use to direct airplanes. LT Smooth was center stage, entertaining the growing, chattering crowd, who carried their stuffed astronauts gleefully. Massive screens cycled through smiling Trailblazer-hoodied users. There was no mistaking: I was at a Salesforce conference keynote! This wasn’t the famous Dreamforce, however. Instead, the smaller audience was full of my favorite folks: the nerds that make your Salesforce system blast off. All these developers, admins, and architects had gathered for TrailheaDX, Salesforce’s annual technical conference (TDX to those of us with the bad habit of talking in TLAs). We are often asked by nonprofit staff if this event is worth attending, and since it was my first TDX, here are my first impressions!

TDX, held in one Mocsone building–no cross-city sprinting between sessions!–welcomes over 10,000 experts for 400 sessions laser-focused on the platform, from apex and lightning web component best practices to security and building apps. I was lucky enough to have won a pass at the Amplify Dreamforce breakfast last year, thanks to the generosity of While Dreamforce is often overwhelming and exhausting, even for extroverts, I was excited to experience what I had heard was a more digestible and rewarding experience. My goal was to learn as much as possible for Percolator’s nonprofit clients and to connect with admins and developers doing work like mine.

And what I’d heard was right…I had a great time! I ran into people I’ve chatted and joked with on Twitter, other experts from the Power of Us Hub, and community superstars. I loved celebrating nonprofits like RAD Women, PepUP Tech, and VetForce, too. There were two floors of trailhead-themed kiosks, small theaters, and demos, staffed by product managers and Salesforce employees, where you could ask that really nerdy question you have been mulling for months. As an obsessed bug-smasher, I fully enjoyed this perk! And of course there were also parties and happy hours, and even Macklemore, but don’t ask me; I was Team Introvert, knitting at my hotel by 6pm, as per usual.

Even though it’s smaller than Dreamforce, there were still, of course, more sessions than I could see all at once. Luckily many sessions were recorded.

Here are some of my favorite sessions; watch for the recordings soon!

The Technical Architect sessions were probably my favorite topic. Despite the lofty name, if you are an admin or developer, you are making these kinds of decisions on some level, regularly:
Build Better Software Faster Using Models
How to Decide Which Design Decision is Best

Then, when you need to inspire your users about what you built, do more than just show what it does. Dreamforce demo superstar LeeAnne Rimel showed us How to Rock a Demo (and why it matters).

Lightning and Flow are getting better every day. Building Advanced Flows was a quick tour of some of the latest features, including the freebie custom treats from UnofficalSF. The Build Together with Low Code super-session highlighted how admins and developers can work together, using some of the new features out in Summer 19, like flow templates, apex-defined types, and object creator (recording available now).

The very last session of TDX was probably my favorite non-technical activity. As a complete geek for space since, oh, forever, real astronauts (not the stuffed animal variety) are always among my heroes. And there were two of them on stage–chatting about women in STEM, science and reason, and living in space! Mae Jemison and Peggy Whitson were engaging and inspiring!

By the end of the conference, I was thoroughly geeked out and happy….but not just because of astronauts. Learning, community, and fun will do that!

If you are a nonprofit admin or developer and wondering if TDX can help you improve your skills, connect with important allies, get those certifications, and improve your nonprofit’s engagement technology, I’d reply “definitely!” Like all conferences, it is what you make it, and pacing and planning are key. You’ll want to set goals and make a plan for who you want to meet and demos you need to see…and then be prepared to throw your plan out the window when something interesting or important you didn’t expect comes up. For now: Start with the case for budgeting TDX20 now…let me know if you need help!

(And because of recently being named a Salesforce MVP, I had a little surprise at the end… follow us on Twitter, and I’ll post more about that soon!)

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