Dreamforce 2012 is finished and I have finally found some time to jot down my memories and review my notes. The biggest impression I am left with is the developer keynote. While the Force.com Platform Keynote has been in the last several Dreamforces, this is the very first keynote dedicated to Force.com developers, and attending it was a very cool experience.
The Developer Keynote was on Thursday afternoon in a huge room in Moscone South, fronted with four huge projection screens. It was a full house, so many people were turned away at the door (only under orders of the fire chief, they noted), and the energy level was high. Every person who attended the developer keynote was given a free copy of the freshly published book Advanced Apex Programming for Salesforce.com and Force.com, even those in overflow rooms.
It was incredible to see how many fellow developers are using Force.com. Salesforce reports 800,000 Force.com developers, though I still haven’t seen the source for this number. When asked how many people were new to Dreamforce, most of the room raised their hands. When asked how many people were new Force.com developers, most of the room raised their hands. So, when Salesforce says they have 1000 new developer org sign-ups every day and increasing, this growth certainly seems based in reality.
Salesforce played a video about Force.com developers called ‘We are the Makers’, which was made to inspire. There were several code demos during the keynote, which I was very happy to see, which showed the speed of development on the platform. This was followed by an overview of app development on the platform, and how the average earnings per app is much higher on the AppExchange compared to Apple’s App Store. The style of the developer keynote, and the developer side of the conference on the whole, felt very much inspired by a Google, Apple, or Microsoft developer conference, which I found quite refreshing.
Indeed, inspiring developers to learn new things and innovate was the theme of the developer side of Dreamforce. The rebranded Mobile Touch Platform, which consists of the Mobile SDK and related tools, makes Force.com app development for iOS, Android, and other mobile devices ridiculously simple. With the variety of tools for Force.com, it takes just a few minutes to bootstrap and build REST endpoints, iOS and Android SDK Force.com-backed apps, or mobile-optimized Visualforce pages. With such bootstrap projects, developers can quickly get past the sticking points of entering this new territory and can get right into building cool things.
Because the goals of the developer conference was in line with my own goals, which is to learn new ideas and tools, I found the conference to be an incredibly great experience. Not only was I finally able to meet face-to-face with Force.com developers I know only through social media channels, I was actually learned practical skills. I dug a little deeper into practical uses of jQuery, heard some road-map items, and worked through an introduction book to Node.js, which is *very* interesting. A positive experience indeed.