Dan Trimble

Standardized Opportunity Naming Convention with Formatted Amount in Salesforce

In one recent Salesforce NPSP deployment for a large nonprofit organization, I needed to help them standardize their internal naming conventions for most of the standard and custom objects they were using. This particular organization wanted to make sure they could look at a list of, say, all opportunities or contract records, and tell at a glance what each one was for, how much they were projecting or had bid, and what kind of opportunity it was (e.g. grant, contract, major gift, bequest, match, etc.)

This proved easy enough for the simpler parts. There are dozens of sources online for different variations of how to standardize naming conventions for SFDC objects, and lots of useful advice from the folks at the NPSF Google Group. The challenge came in that most of the sources discussing ways to accomplish this didn’t dive into some of the cleaner details that give a standard naming convention the kind of polish you’d expect. For example, Salesforce’s TEXT function will allow you to display the value of the Amount field–to reflect how much is being projected or had been bid on for an opportunity. However, Salesforce’s default function strips the resulting value of all meaningful currency syntax–you lose the thousands comma, ending up with just a long string of numbers; on larger deals with several digits, this gets annoying very quick. Hardly useful for telling at a glance what is going on.

So I pulled together several different code snippets and dug into archive.org to try and find some that had disappeared.  The end result was to create what–at least for us–would be a much a more polished naming convention. Some have asked me if I’d be willing to share the final workflow formulas we used to automatically create those consistent naming conventions, with fixes for the Amount formatting problems. Please find the formula set below for the opportunity object type–formulas used for contracts, compliance records, cases, and others will follow shortly.  Hopefully some will benefit from it all.

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Is it possible to feel any smaller?

El Capitan at the Merced, Yosemite

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

Travel Map Updates

Next Monday, I’ll finally visit New Hampshire—and complete my quest to visit all 50 of the US states. Notwithstanding the states my family visited when I was a kid (California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska; also Washington, DC), it’s taken twelve years to get to the remaining 42 states. New Hampshire will complete the list. The plan is to visit Nashua, Manchester, and the cities and towns in between.

State completion map below; ignore the numbers on the markers. I also have a detailed map of every city I’ve been to (as best as I can remap from memory and notes), hosted through TripAdvisor.

Ice Caves Under Mendenhall Glacier, Ctd.

“It’s almost magical,” my Alaska Airlines flight stewardess emphasized when I showed her the shots from my first trip to Mendenhall Glacier’s ice caves. She’s not alone in feeling that way.

Last week, I returned to Juneau on business and squeezed in one more trek out to the glacial caves before my return flight home. And I do mean squeezed–a downpour arrived while I was inside the caves and did not let up on my hike back. I made it to the airport with only 30 minutes to spare, but thankfully Juneau International is one of the smallest US airports I’ve ever been to. The “trail” from Western Glacier Trail to the glacier is brutal enough on the knees without having to deal with the rain, so it added a solid and unplanned hour to the return hike. Was it worth it? As I told my wife, I’d break a leg to go out there if that’s what it took. It’s just an unbelievable experience to be inside a massive glacier, with such vibrant blue ice melting all around you. It’s…well…”magical”.

Ice Caves Under Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall, the famously 12 mile long, 150 foot deep and half mile wide glacier melts as you watch it, and moves as much as 60-70 feet per year. The massive glacial geography and its changes over time are a sight to be seen. But it’s real beauty lies beneath. Beneath the seracs of “ice peaks” all over the glacier. Beneath the trails that wind the non-touristy western half of the glacier. Under the white outer-coating of the glacial ice itself–a beautiful if only superficial “cover”–one finds a brilliantly colored world of ice caves unlike anything I’ve found anywhere else in nature.

Neither raging nor deep, there are two waterfalls that slip down the side of adjacent Mt. McGinnis in Juneau, Alaska. These gentle streams belie their real impact on the glacier. As one follows the flow of water down the mountain, it slips under the edge of the glacier where, over thousands of years, it has carved massive caves through the ice. Known by most of the locals but far, far off the tourist track, these caves were an extraordinary experience–the kind that will live with you for the rest of your life. There’s simply nothing else like it.

The path to get there is not so much difficult as it is technical–requiring balance and calculated movements more than muscle or raw perseverance. Park at the head of Western Glacier Trail. Hike the trail out to the viewing platform atop the small knoll. There’ll be a sign pointing to it. But instead of continuing along Western Glacier Trail, you’ll take the unmarked trail from the viewing platform down towards the glacier. This path is technical and moderately arduous, but not overly long. It’ll wind through Juneau’s beautiful rain forests and take you through some areas where you will need to climb over large rocks (no climbing gear is needed–the rocks are easy, just tall). From here, you’ll begin the final descent onto the glacier itself. You WILL need ice cleats or, at minimum, crampons. Climb the glacier for a while and behold the majestic beauty of the ice upfront. You can see holes that go all the way through the glacier with constantly streaming flows of water–a reminder that the massive ice is moving and melting all the time. But before you leave, do not miss the ice caves beneath the glacier. Climb the left side of the glacier along the edge, and follow the sound and sight of the waterfalls coming down Mt. McGinnis. There are other ice caves to be found, but this is the only one I had the time for on my journey. But at several hundred yards deep before the cave opening gets to be so small you can no longer go any deeper inside, it won’t leave you disappointed.

Yay, a debt ceiling plan! Now what?

Now that the debt ceiling crisis has been “resolved”, I have no doubt that we’re going to see all the members of Congress once again mistake their zero sum game of political discourse for some kind of magnanimity; patting each other on the backs and congratulating each other on being masters of the universe. It will be no different than nearly every other congressional game of intransigence and high-stakes posturing I can recall. And once again, we’re all going to stare in amazement at their supreme inability to fathom just how pathetically incompetent they’ve all looked through this crisis. My only hope is that perhaps the American public will realize we came to a very real precipice of financial disaster, and that they will remember this when November 2012 finally arrives.

I concede it wouldn’t necessarily be a “financial disaster” in the most literal of sense since the likelihood of either party allowing the country to actually default is not very high (I sure hope I’m not giving the benefit of the doubt here). But surely that precipice of financial disaster is, at minimum, a very real and acutely felt set of signal we would have sent to the world; to investors; to foreign countries; to our own people that as a nation we are willing to gamble with absolutely everything for the sake of political gain. A devastating loss of confidence would ensue were that to happen. As is, can we can even say there were any winners in this ordeal? Or has Congress finally arrived a moment of its own reckoning, to be paid for dearly in 2012?

There are no winners in this deal. But the real losers aren’t the members of the House and Senate, nor a President who seemed all but indifferent throughout the negotiations. I understand that this is political posturing season with 2012 right around the corner, but this president lacks leadership; he routinely seems to confuse indifference and indecisiveness for the practical compromise-driven policymaking that moderate and independent voters demand–the very base he knows intimately well his entire re-election bid will be dependent upon. No, the real loser is the American public. Once again we are seeing government make no substantive progress, not in policy nor in public administration. What we have is a rawly partisan deal that lacks policy guts of any kind: it does nothing to raise revenues; little of meaning to reign in a government so incomprehensibly and unaffordably massive; nothing to restructure a tax code that ranks among the longest and convoluted documents ever written in human history; nothing to address the insolvency and necessity of entitlement programs; and nothing to address the creation of new jobs or any semblance of a plan to put America’s unemployed back to work. And worst of all, we are still not making the single most important short term, medium-term, and long-term investment we can possibly make to grow our economy and better position America in this world: education.

Little changes because even a middle school social studies student would be able to tell the deal doesn’t amount to much. It imposes extraordinary spending cuts without actually reducing spending to a level sustainable in the long-term, and does so without regard for the fact that at least 14.1 million Americans remained jobless as of June 2011, never mind the tens of millions more who are under-employed. It fails to overcome the Tea Party and GOP’s insane anti-tax intransigence in even the most basic of ways: how hard could it possibly be to close unintended loop holes that allow even the largest of corporations to pay merely a pittance of taxes while others pay through the roof? It postpones any meaningful restructuring of the budget, debt, or economic plans until a new 12-member “bi-partisan” commission can be organized to take a deeper look at how best to accomplish another $1.6 trillion in cuts. To what end will this lead? The same as the countless commissions that have preceded it? It hasn’t even been that long since the Bowles-Simpson Commission. What reason is there to believe that reason itself will prevail as yet another commission tries to do the dirty work our elected legislators are so unwilling to do directly?

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