Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Medium knows that I’m a big fan of Trailhead and have been since it was unveiled to the community in the Dreamforce 2014 Developer Keynote. I’ve offered my time up to help whenever possible and have been involved in reviewing new ideas, the contents of developer focused modules and beta tested a number of superbadges.
One area that I’d be really keen to get involved in is creating content, but I get that this introduces a number of challenges for the Trailhead team inside Salesforce:
The Salesforce community is a huge beast and if they were unleashed on this there would be several thousand modules submitted in very short order. And let’s be honest, a lot of them would be crap. Trailhead content is created by a team of professional technical writers rather than a bunch of developers dabbling in their spare time, and it shows! With the Trailhead for Students announcement, it’s clear that it is going to be used to skill up people from a variety of backgrounds in Salesforce, so it’s important that the content is accurate, useful and all aimed in the same direction.
I’d imagine at any given moment there are several million words of Trailhead content moving through the machine. As I mentioned above it will almost certainly be better than anything a hobbyist will come up with, but you can bet that the hobbyist will think along similar lines. The last thing that’s needed is a bunch of modules all tackling the same problem in slightly different ways. While we like badges, I’m pretty sure there is such a thing as challenge fatigue.
Trailhead modules are always going to present Salesforce in the best possible light and the community might not take the same view for their content. A number of my blog posts cover how to workaround problematic edge cases and that’s probably not what is wanted when encouraging new people over to Salesforce.
Content from Salesforce will be written with insider knowledge whereas anything created by the community would be written with limited outsider knowledge. We could easily spend time creating modules for features that are about to be retired or change beyond all recognition. This could probably be mitigated with NDAs, but Salesforce would be putting a lot of trust in the community not to leak things, and when that inevitably happened due to accident rather than design, I’d expect it to get shut down in a hurry.
As above, there would be thousands of modules. At the moment the ranks top out at Ranger with 100 badges. We’d need a whole new hierarchy!
The root to these challenges is that the community would be providing content into the official Trailhead estate, so anyone coming to it would assume that it was written, or at least endorsed, by Salesforce. Which means that everything would have to be reviewed and signed off by the Trailhead team and no doubt layers of Product Management and Marketing, all of whom have better things to do than wade through an avalanche of submissions. And everybody would submit modules, because they’d want to be seen to be supplying Trailhead content, because of the enormous exposure they’d get from it.
What would be cool is a place where the community could create modules and Trails that were clearly marked out as non-Salesforce content. Essentially allowing is to utilise the Trailhead platform (which no doubt introduces a whole new set of challenges that I have no idea about) without them having to take ownership of our efforts. The reason this would be cool is it would be an aggregated collection of the community’s efforts in one place, rather than striping ourselves around on loads of personal blogs etc. Throw in the ability to rank/like/vote for modules and we’d quickly establish for ourselves which were useful and which should be forgotten. Like Google search results, nobody would look more than a page or two back on any given topic, so the chaff would quickly disappear and the quantity problem would resolve itself. Any star modules could be taken under the Salesforce wing if they were deemed good enough by the mothership and the author agreed.
All of this is no doubt a pipe dream at the moment, but maybe something for team Trailhead to consider at the next roadmap session. For now we’ll continue to share our best efforts on blogs and github and hope that they are discoverable enough.
I’m better known in the Salesforce community as Bob Buzzard — Umpteen Certifications, including Technical Architect, 6 x MVP and CTO of BrightGen, a Platinum Cloud Alliance Partner in the United Kingdom who are hiring.
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You can find my (usually) more technical thoughts at the Bob Buzzard Blog