7 January 2017

5 Lightning Tips for Visualforce Devs

We all have heard of #Lightning by now, it's been almost 2 years since it was announced, and surely there's a lot of buzz ever since. If you haven't heard about it, then stop right here and familiarise yourself.

For those who are still with me, I'd like to share 5 high level tips about transitioning from traditional APEX/Visualforce development onto Lightning.

  1. Accept the Reality (New World)

    Yes, it's a brand new world. If you've been a back-end developer for many years with no front-end development experience, no offense, but you will have a steeper learning curve. The whole lightning concept is focused around JavaScript, so this time around the code will execute on the local machine rather than the server. Front-end developers have an advantage taking on Lightning Development. Drop your APEX and Visualforce hat, and put on your JavaScript hat because things are quite different now.

  2. Up Your JavaScript Skills - Forget about Visualforce

    If you have never played with JavaScript before, I highly recommend taking an online course and experiment a little bit with pure JavaScript to start off with. Don't worry about libraries and frameworks like jQuerry, AngularJS and such, that will come easy later on - ensure you get familiar enough with the language itself first. If you're keen on kick starting with a book, the one I would recommend - "JavaScript - The Good Parts".

    Some of us have used (some more than others) JavaScript in Visualforce in the past. For those, it will be easier to transition to Lightning Development. Especially if you've used a JavaScript / UI framework in Visualforce, then you should be good to go. Aura is another UI framework which you will pick up in a drop of a hat, given the fact that you've got some experience with other frameworks.
  3. (Fast) Agile - FRAGILE

    It's an ever-changing world too (or used to be!?). Things tend to change dramatically - some fundamental functionality of the framework has been changing over the releases, as well as the documentation. Majority of the functionality that has changed or wasn't GA available happened in the early days, but now it seems like things are more stable (safe harbour). Then new features are introduced which may break things that you've built in the past - a good example is the Locker Service.

    When developing Lightning apps or components, you have to pay close attention on these things in order to make your app/component future proof. The fact there is no versioning adds even more challenge.
  4. Examples

    Existing examples are a great start to understand how it all works and how to get started. I don't think there is anything better than a working example in order to get the sense of how something works.

    Check out the documentation, jump on Trailhead, attend your local user group and ask for in-depth presentation or hands-on meetup, perhaps the organisers can do something like that, check out blog posts from other developers and MVP's... There are a lot of good examples and tutorials out there that will help you get started or transition faster.
  5. Get Help and Help Others

    The Lightning developer community is pretty small at the moment and surely there are a lot of questions thrown around. One place where we can all help each other move forward is Salesforce StackExchange. Whether your need help or you're willing to help others, your contribution will be very much appreciated by the community. Also the AURA framework, as well as the Lightning Design System are open source projects, so feel free to propose ideas, recommend better solutions and raise any issues that you may encounter - at the end of the day you are not only making your life easier, but to thousands of others too.

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