Behind the Design and Build Apps Fast for #AwesomeAdmins Dreamforce Episode with Vin Addala

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This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we catch up with Vin Addala, a Product Manager, Senior Director at Salesforce. He gives us a sneak peek at the upcoming Dreamforce episode, Design and Build Apps Fast for #AwesomeAdmins, and fills us in on all the latest developments in board gaming, too.

Join us as we talk about all the new things App Builder can do for you to make powerful, low-code applications.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Vin Addala.

The App Builder Dream

You might recognize Vin from our last episode with him about Dynamic Forms and App Builder. “I wanted App Builder to become a one-stop tool for you to build low-code applications,” he says. In this Dreamforce episode, the primary thing he wanted to get across was that new features are continually getting added to make it more powerful! They’ve added drag-and-drop components, fields, actions, and now Dynamic Interactions. The second thing Vin wanted to show in this Dreamforce episode is how all these different features come together to solve real-world problems and address real needs.

Vin’s team has added a lot of interactivity to the applications you can build with low-code tools, but they wanted to take it a step further. “We wanted to create a low-code framework where components can talk to each other,” so if you have a list of addresses, for example, you could have a map component that can take those addresses and map it. A low-code app builder can create interactive elements on a page in way that was previously only possible for developers.

Balancing Power and Efficiency

Coding events and interactions models can get really complicated — while there are a lot of models for how to do things, it can be hard to translate that into something accessible for the rest of us. “When I look at all these features and capabilities, I see how powerful they will be if I can democratize them and give that power to the admins,” Vin says, “but I have to do it in a way that will be easy to approach.”

Part of the challenge is making sure to balance the power of App Builder with safeguards to make sure you can’t break your org too severely. That means Vin needs to be careful about what features he has his team build, how far they go, and how they go about implementing them. “I really don’t want people to reinvent the wheel,” he says, “I want people to be focusing on solving a business problem than the nitty-gritty details of how to solve a business problem.”

Why Vin Needs Your Help

App Builder is becoming more and more powerful with each release, so Vin wants you to take a second look at what it can do, especially if you haven’t checked in on it in a few releases. “Revisit any old assumptions you’ve had about App Builder and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes,” he says, “App builder is a lot more powerful than it ever has been in turns of helping solve and build turnkey business applications.” Give it a try and reach out to Vin and his team to let him know where they can improve to make it even better.

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Full transcript

Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast, where we talk about product, community, career, oh and Dreamforce, to help you become an awesome admin. This week we’re talking with Vin Addala, the Product Manager, Senior Director, about the upcoming Dreamforce session, Build Apps Fast for #AwesomeAdmins. This is such a cool session. Giving you a little sneak peek. Also, for those of you who are fans of the pod and listened to the previous episode of Vin, we get caught up on some of the very cool board games that Vin and his family are playing and yep, get a sneak peek on the roadmap of board games for this fall because we’re having fun on the pod so let’s talk some App Builder and let’s talk some board games and let’s get Vin on the pod.
Vin, welcome to the podcast.

Vin Addala: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Mike. Always excited to be here. Always love sharing you know what myself and my team are working with all our beloved admins. Thanks for having me.

Mike Gerholdt: I know. Well speaking of which, so if anybody listened to the previous episode or any of the TrailheaDX stuff we’ve done with you, I have to start off with where we left off, which is talking board games because I want to know selfishly if you found any new board games since we’ve last chatted, because you are a board game expert in my book.

Vin Addala: Yeah. Thanks a lot, Mike. It’s interesting, I don’t get to hang out with my friends as much playing board games but my eight year old son is super into board games and so is my wife. We’ve been playing, this game’s called Mansions of Madness. It’s a fun little game. You play as a detective. It can be a little scary if you’re playing with kids that are too small but overall it makes you a detective and it’s super fun. That’s something we’ve been enjoying over the weekend.

Mike Gerholdt: I like that. I also have noticed tangentially a little bit of a resurgent on TV of game shows coming back. At least for me on Wednesday nights, Press Your Luck is back and Elizabeth Banks hosts it. And I think it’s just one of the best reboots of a game show I’ve ever seen.

Vin Addala: Yeah, I’m not too much of a TV guy. I don’t know. I haven’t shared this too much. I don’t think a lot of people know but I love anime. I usually watch a little bit of anime. If any listeners out there want to have a nice chat about their favorite anime, hit me up on Twitter as well.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh yeah. Anime and board games, let me tell you. Well, we should probably get to the getting here. Let’s talk about App Builder and what in this episode, getting ready for Dreamforce, which is what we’re all prepping for now that it’s September. You, Claudia Robinson, Jay Stedman all together are build and design apps fast for awesome admins. What was important for you to highlight in this episode?

Vin Addala: Yeah, this episode, I think is really important. We put a ton of time into it. Last time I was kind of back on this podcast, we spoke a lot about dynamic forms and sort of my vision that I had for App Builder because I wanted App Builder to become sort of this one stop tool for you to build low code applications. And I wanted to enhance the capabilities because we added the ability to drag and drop components and then we added the ability to have fields. And then we added the ability to have actions. And then we’re now furthering that capability by adding a new feature. I’m sure which we’ll talk about a lot more is dynamic interactions.
The thing that I wanted people to get out of this episode is number one, a full understanding that we’re not done with innovating on App Builder. It’s something that I’m passionate about. My team’s passionate about. We’re continuing to add features. And as we add features to App Builder, it’s becoming that full fledged one stop shop for building your low code applications. That’s the first thing I wanted to get out from the episode is just the innovation around the space.
And the second thing I wanted people to see is how can these different features come together to help you solve real world problems and real needs? I didn’t want people to see dynamic actions and dynamic forms as these separate features. I wanted to see how can they come together to solve an end to end problem? I would hope that these two things are what people get out of it.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And I’ve seen the episode, I’m excited for our Trailblazers to see the episode. I think one thing that I really enjoy and it’s kind of seeing the evolution of Salesforce, where as we work in a more digital environment, you’re going from just viewing singular record pages to what some of the stuff in the demo is, where you’re actually interacting and it’s an app page. And so you’re moving quickly, I think in one part of the demo from location to location and you could immediately do some actions right from a page, as opposed to, I rewind the clock 15 years and think of going to an account page and going this and it almost feels in 15 years we’ve gone the door to door vacuum salesman to a hybrid version where we’re actually moving through data, collecting data and putting data in the system faster.

Vin Addala: Yeah. And actually you caught onto the crux of the vision and what we’re trying to do and it’s actually exactly that. Kudos to you, Mike. And to kind of reiterate what you’re talking about is exactly as you said, initially what you’re able to build with App Builder or low code tools is kind of a static intake form. You’re able to put in data into a field and save it. However, we’re adding ton of interactivity with that. You see nowadays what we call single page applications or you’re looking at one view and that view changes and shifts to the needs of the application and the user. And we started to kind of touch upon this when we introduced the conditional visibility features where you can sort of set a field to be visible based on certain conditions.

But looking at what people wanted and looking at what kinds of applications we’re getting requests for, we wanted to take it a step further. We wanted to create a low code framework where people are able to have components talk to each other. And this is kind of what that demo shows is when you have a list of addresses or a list of information, when you click on that list, there could be a map component that listens to the address of what you just clicked and immediately maps it. All of a sudden an admin is able to connect and create these live interactions on the page, which at point was only reserved for developers. There’s obviously more things we want to do to make it even easier for admins to create these interactions between components and interactions between pages and things like that. But this is kind of now the start of kind of a new capability in these low code applications, which is interactivity. It’s not just about static pages entering and saving and editing data. It’s about dynamic applications, hence the term dynamic interactions.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And I think all along executives have asked admins for this and we’ve sort of wanted it. I remember thinking back to the days when I would have salespeople say, “Well, when I’m on this account, I would love to see nearby accounts.” And I’d be like, “I would too.” And now you can kind of do that. That’s almost to me, it feels a little bit behind the times because we’re actually farther along in that. Right now I need the application tell me where I’m at and show me my accounts as opposed to picking something. But one thing that I was thinking of for admins sometimes when App Builder first came out, it was another page builder, at least that’s what it felt like. What’s one of the considerations that you have to think about when you’re building this powerful tool? Because the one thing that I love about it is the simplicity of drag and drop components and you have the canvas area and you can put things there and it’s really hard to make an ugly application.

Vin Addala: Yes. Yeah, and that’s a great question. As you said, initially we call it App Builder but maybe it was more of a page builder but with the advent of forms and dynamic actions and now dynamic interactions, it’s actually truly becoming an App Builder. And that’s one of the visions that I’ve sort of painted multiple times on this podcast and through other means as well. And so I think the biggest challenge that I have is that we have these concepts that are pretty complicated. For example, when we talk about dynamic interactions for example, oftentimes an interaction model was only available through people who understood platform events or some of our other more pro code event solutions. And when we talk about events in the pro code world, we talk about a pub sub model and event boxes. And these are all things that they’re kind of scary and we don’t want to like expose all of that to our admins.

What we want to expose is the power of an event and these interactions model. We don’t want to expose all the nitty gritty details. Yeah, exactly. And that’s one of my biggest challenges is that when I look at these features and capabilities, I see how powerful they will be if I can democratize them and give that power to the admins. But I also have to do it in such a way that it’s easy for them to approach and easy for them to get the job done. And that’s also why when you said it’s very hard to make a mistake in App Builder, it is possible. Of course, that’s why we have [inaudible].

Mike Gerholdt: Oh, of course.

Vin Addala: And this is something that I often have a lot of conversation with customers about is I get ton of feature requests but oftentimes I have to be very careful what feature I pick and how far I go because what will happen is that the more power I put without the proper guardrails and without the proper user experience, the more likely a mistake is proliferated and it actually ends up making the low code building experience worse. This is a tricky balance that I have to play. And again, oftentimes what I’ll do is a lot of people that work with me know that I run some pretty large pilots and try to get ton of feedback but that’s kind of the way I try to calibrate all of this.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I think the part for non-developers like myself is we see the interaction on the screen. What we don’t understand is to your point, like the pub sub model, all of the data transference and the calls and the activity, I’ll call it, that has to happen in the background for that to happen on the screen. And I think that’s what you’re alluding to because with some of these tools, you can kind of overbuild yourself when you could have 10 process builder processes, when really one trigger of 50 lines could do it best. And you could do the same. You could overbuild a page and its performance is just in the bucket.

Vin Addala: Exactly. And the way I think about my technologies and the philosophy for the products that I build is I really don’t want people to reinvent the wheel. Pub sub model has been around. It’s been figured out. We understand what the best practices of building forms based pages are. We understand the best practices of performance and what components to put and how to do all that. I just don’t want people to reinvent the wheel and rediscover that. If there’s any way I can build that in, into these low code solutions that I’m building, that’s what I’m aiming for. I want people to be focusing on solving a business problem and what they need to do to solve the business problem rather than maybe the nitty gritty details of how to solve the business problem. The more I can get admins to focus on their core business problem and less about these supporting technologies and the supporting infrastructures, the more I consider myself and my feature successful.

Mike Gerholdt: I like that. That leads me right into what I feel is a very good question, what do you think is the most important thing admins should know about App Builder?

Vin Addala: That’s a really great question. I think the most important thing to know about App Builder is that it’s becoming more and more powerful with each release and to question any sort of core assumptions you have about, oh App Builder used to do this and it wasn’t great for that a couple of releases ago. There’s a lot of changes that are happening. There’s a lot of feedback that we get. There’s lots of different ideas that we’re putting into App Builder to test where we want to take the product and based on the feedback that we’re getting. I just want people to just revisit any old assumptions that they’ve had about App Builder and come back with it with a fresh set of eyes.

And the other thing that I will kind of encourage everybody is that App Builder is a lot more powerful than it ever was in terms of helping solve and build those turnkey business applications. I’d love people to go back, utilize the App Builder and more importantly, give me feedback, give my team feedback to make it even better and better. I would say the power of App Builder is changing from release to release. We’re trying to make it as powerful as we can given our resources and just keep that in mind.

Mike Gerholdt: Well, that’s great. Now the important roadmap question. We’re heading into fall, what is on the roadmap for Vin’s family in terms of board games? Because you thought I was going to ask product but I’m going to switch it up a little bit.

Vin Addala: Yes, you definitely got me there. I was already starting to think about my roadmap and three release roadmap.

Mike Gerholdt: People hear about that at Dreamforce. This is the podcast. You got to hear fun stuff on the podcast. They’re probably out walking their dog right now.

Vin Addala: Yeah. That’s a great question. I have almost 350 board games here so there’s no shortage of board game roadmap. But recently I picked up this game called it’s a little bit of a fantasy game, it’s called Dwellings of Eldervale that my son has been eyeing. It has a ton of miniatures and monsters and it should be something that should be pretty fun to play. Another game that we’ve been eyeing is this game called Pandemic Season Zero.

Mike Gerholdt: Oh my. Hey, how about that for relevancy?

Vin Addala: Exactly. We love playing these long games with storylines, so that’s another one that we’ve been eyeing. Over the course of the next release or so that’s what we’re hoping to get to the table. You tricked me, Mike.

Mike Gerholdt: I hope that Pandemic game maybe doesn’t last as long as the real thing. Draw the vaccine card, yay, and we’re done. Okay. Let’s board it up.

Vin Addala: Interesting. I hope so. I hope so.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. It was funny, you rewind to like March of last year and the number one most streamed movie on Netflix was Outbreak and I’m like really? Anyway, fun stuff. Vin, you’re wonderful to talk to. I’m happy to have you on the pod every single time. The episode I’ve watched is amazing. I think the storyline, the examples that you and Claudia and Jay came up with are just going to be so cool. And it’s such a fun 23 and a half minutes of time to watch. It will race by, I promise people will watch it two or three times. I appreciate you taking time out to get our admins ready for Dreamforce.

Vin Addala: Yeah, definitely. I thought that was an extremely fun and awesome informative episode. I also just to plug some of my other episodes.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, please.

Vin Addala: There’s also a roadmap session for my areas that’s going to cover not just App Builder and the innovations there but also what we’re doing in the area of records and lists and related lists as well because that’s an area that is in my product leadership as well. There’s lots of cool things happening all across the areas that I’m working and Dreamforce is one of the first places where we’re revealing and unveiling some of the things that we’ve been working in other areas as well. I’m hoping, I’m sure our admins are going to get excited about that because some of those were voted and true to the core, we’re going to be kind of giving an update on.

Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I just got a Slack notification about true to the core. Somebody asking me a question about that. Vin, we’re going to have to have you come back and talk lists or I’m going to have to get you on a Twitter space with Jay because I know as an admin, I had a million questions about lists and list views. I know we get no silly questions in about list views so it’s good you’re expanding your portfolio. Vin will soon run the platform.

Vin Addala: Well, I appreciate your support there, Mike. thank you.

Mike Gerholdt: You bet. Thanks for stopping by, Vin.

Vin Addala: Yeah, thanks. Always great to be here and thanks. Thank you. And thank you admins for your time and listening to this podcast. Thank you.

Mike Gerholdt: It was great having Vin back on the podcast. Be sure to check out that Dreamforce session, it’s going to be exciting. Few days of streaming on Salesforce Plus. And of course I want to remind you that you can learn more about all things Salesforce admin, just go to admin.salesforce.com to find a ton more resources, including that other podcasts that we did with Vin so you can hear about all the board games that he plays.

Speaking of cool fun stuff, new podcast swag is in the Trailhead store. I’ve got my podcast shirt on. I wake up every morning. Wow. Can’t even talk. You know why? Because I need another cup of coffee in my podcast tumbler. That’s why. Now, it’s cool swag. We put the link in the show notes. I’d love for you to tweet a picture of you sporting some of that swag. I think it’s fun.

You can stay up to date with us on social. That’s how you can tweet pictures. We are @salesforceadmns, no I, on Twitter. You should totally follow my guest Vin Addala on Twitter. He is @vinaddala and Gillian who is out on leave, don’t forget to give her a follow. She is @gilliankbruce. And then we’ll just round out the busload of Twitter handles with my own selfish plug. I am @mikegerholdt on Twitter and we are only a few days away from Dreamforce, folks. It’s going to be awesome. With that, stay safe, stay awesome and stay tuned for the next episode. We’ll see you in the cloud.

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