developer challenge

Back in December, issued a challenge to its developer community: Build a site or application on the newly released Sites platform. Sites was announced at Dreamforce 08 and is currently in development release only.

At Demand Chain Systems (a CRM consulting and implementation firm in Minneapolis), we decided to take up this challenge, viewing it as a great opportunity to learn the Sites technology -- and hopefully to win one of the Ipod Touches was offering. Our goal was to see how easy it would be to move our corporate website to the new technology and create a first-generation content management system (CMS) that we could use to update it from Salesforce.

Salesforce recently announced the winners, and we were thrilled to learn we were an honorable mention. We would like to share our experience creating our application and some thoughts along the way. We have also included a short video of the application in action.

Lessons learned

The first thing we learned was that using the Sites technology is fairly straightforward. We were able to move our corporate site from a standard HTML/CSS/PHP platform to the Sites platform in a couple of hours. It took a little digging to understand how to host the images and set up the Visualforce templates; but once we got the first couple pages up, the rest were pretty simple. It took us ~5 hours to migrate our basic site to the platform and meet the first half of our goal.

The second half our goal was to create a first-generation CMS for our site. Using a combination of technology (Visualforce, APEX, Custom Objects), we were able to architect a system in ~10-15 hours that functioned as a CMS. We added an “Edit” button to the live site so people could see it in action, knowing that if we ever moved it to production, we would have to add some additional security around that end of the CMS.

Here is a brief video of the end product we submitted for the challenge:

Here is a link to the working prototype (As you can see the community has updated some of the content themselves):

We at Demand Chain Systems are always excited to get our hands dirty with new technology, and the Sites Developer Challenge was a great opportunity to do just that. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions/comments regarding our entry. I would love to hear feedback and enhancement ideas!

Tim Inman –