Apex is the next-generation programming language of Salesforce. It offers many benefits, including faster development time and increased productivity, but it’s also more difficult to learn than other languages like Java or Python.
This blog post will cover what Apex is and why developers should start learning it now.
Overview of Apex
Before understanding Apex, we should have a basic knowledge of Salesforce. So let’s take a look and understand what Salesforce is.
So Salesforce is the #1 CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform used across the globe, which allows its customers to develop and use their application online without buying the infrastructure, doing the setup, and managing everything.
Before Salesforce, companies used to host their CRM solutions on their server, and it took months and sometimes years to set up everything, and the cost for all this became too high to afford.
Salesforce then came up with Saas’s (Software as a Service) solution. It replaced the lengthy installation process, expensive license contracts just by allowing the facility to maintain everything on Cloud and paying only a few dollars a month’s subscriptions.
Furthermore, its lightning platform allows the customers to create the application quickly, easily, and effectively.
After understanding what Salesforce is, you must be thinking about Apex and its role in Salesforce. So Apex is a programming language like Java, Python, etc.
Apex is strongly typed (which means that we have to define the data type of data explicitly, and the compiler will consider the data of the specified type and no other type), object-oriented (based on the concept of objects like Java) programming language, which is used by the developers creating an application on Flow.com server.
Developers can execute flow and transaction control statements and make the API calls to the Flow.com API using Apex.
As a result, Apex revolutionizes the way developers create on-demand applications. In addition, it allows the customers to add business logic to their application.
Features of Apex
Following are the features of the Apex is given below:
- Easy to Use: Apex is very easy to use as it uses Java-like syntax, which is quite easy to understand and code. Apex uses simple loop syntax, block and conditional statement syntax, object and array annotation, similar to Java syntaxes.
- Integrated: Apex has inbuilt support of DML operations like Insert, Delete, Update and Inbuilt DML exception handling. Furthermore, it supports looping that allows the processing of multiple records at a time. In addition, it has support for SOQL and SOSL query handling, which return a set of subject records.
- Strongly Typed: Apex is a strongly typed language that means that the user needs to define every variable’s data type, which does not create any confusion at compile time.
- Multitenant Environment: Apex runs in a multitenant environment like other lighting platforms, which means only a single instance runs on the server and serves multiple tenants.
- Easy to Test: Apex provides built-in support to create and run the unit test. It includes the test result so that the user can get to know how much code is covered. In addition, it ensures the executing of the whole code before any platform upgrades.
When Should We use Apex?
Apex allows its developers to create complex CRM applications that provide the Salesforce database and client-server interfaces to create a third-party SaaS application. It also allows customizing pre-built applications according to complex business requirements. This is because Apex provides so many facilities to create an application. Below are some important reasons for choosing Apex for the development of an application:
- Developers can use Apex to create web services that are integrated with a different system. In addition, applications that interact with different applications using API calls are easy to develop using Apex.
- To create applications that require complex business logic and are not supported by the workflow.
- Create email services.
- An application that uses complex transactional logic where the whole transaction records have to be maintained and not only a single record.
- Perform some logic where records need to be updated as in case of triggers. (the event is injected when some situation occurs and records are updated).
How does Apex Work?
Apex runs entirely on the on-demand lighting platform, and all the data (code) is saved on the Cloud. So there is no overhead of storing the code and maintaining it.
For Developers: When the developer writes the code and saves it to the platform application server, the server first compiles the code into a set of instructions that can be understood by the Apex runtime interpreter and then saves those instructions as metadata.
For End-Users: When the end-user triggers to execute the Apex code, the platform application server retrieves those compiled instructions, which are saved as metadata and sent to the runtime interpreter and then sends the result to the clients.
Working on Apex for both developers and end-users is as easy as working in a standard platform application.
- No need for buying the infrastructure and hire IT people as Salesforce provides all the facilities.
- Cost-effective, as the cost of maintenance of the application, the licensing cost of various software is quite high than buying the monthly subscription of Salesforce.
- Security of application, full Authentication, and Authorization is provided to the end-users by Salesforce to access the application.
- It is easy to develop an application in the Salesforce.com platform for developers as developers can use the existing applications or make changes in the existing ones according to business needs.
- Provides on-demand and multitenant platform. Moreover, Apex allows its developers to access the Salesforce.com backend database to third-party Saas applications.
Although Apex has no major disadvantages, there are few limitations which are mentioned below:
- It is not possible to create threads in Apex, unlike other programming languages.
- A developer cannot change the standard functionality if required. It can only prevent the functionality from including in the code or adding some new functionality.
- It is not possible to create temporary files in Apex.
- Developers need to keep in mind that the application they create should handle multiple records (update, insert) as all the apex requests return a large collection of records from the database.
- It cannot show the elements on the user interface.
How Will This Technology Help you in Career Growth?
As every industry is moving towards the Cloud from IT and CRM, it is working great to help the companies reduce the overhead of infrastructure and rather focus on expanding the business. As a result, Apex, the language used in Salesforce development, is getting accepted by big organizations like AWS, U.S. Bank, Dell, Accenture, Deloitte, farmers insurance, etc., as it helps enhance their business.
To move towards an on-demand and multitenant platform, organizations are looking for people who have good knowledge in Salesforce development like Salesforce Development, Salesforce Admin, Change Management, Territory Management, Produce Catalog, Deployment Strategies, and much more. Learning Salesforce can change a person’s career path and open new jobs for IT professionals.
As a language, Apex is:
Apex provides built-in support for common Lightning Platform idioms, including:
- Data manipulation language (DML) calls, such as INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE, that include built-in DmlException handling
- Inline Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL) and Salesforce Object Search Language (SOSL) queries that return lists of subject records.
- Looping that allows for bulk processing of multiple records at a time
- Locking syntax that prevents record update conflicts
- Custom public API calls that can be built from stored Apex methods
- Warnings and errors are issued when a user tries to edit or delete a custom object or field that Apex references
Easy to use
Apex is based on familiar Java idioms, such as variable and expression syntax, block and conditional statement syntax, loop syntax, object, and array notation. Where Apex introduces new elements, it uses syntax and semantics that are easy to understand and encourage efficient use of the Lightning Platform. Therefore, Apex produces code that is both concise and easy to write.
Apex is designed to thread multiple queries and DML statements into a single unit of work on the Salesforce server. Developers use database stored procedures to thread together multiple transaction statements on a database server similarly. Like other database stored procedures, Apex does not attempt to provide general support for rendering elements in the user interface.
Apex is a strongly typed language that directly references schema objects such as object and field names. It fails quickly at compile time if any references are invalid. It stores all custom fields, object, and class dependencies in metadata to ensure that they are not deleted while required by active Apex code.
Apex is interpreted, executed, and controlled entirely by the Lightning Platform.
Like the rest of the Lightning Platform, Apex runs in a multitenant environment. So, the Apex runtime engine is designed to guard against runaway code, preventing it from monopolizing shared resources. Any code that violates limits fails with easy-to-understand error messages.
Easy to test
Apex provides built-in support for unit test creation and execution. It includes test results that indicate how much code is covered and which parts of your code could be more efficient. In addition, Salesforce ensures that all custom Apex code works as expected by executing all unit tests before any platform upgrades.
You can save your Apex code against different versions of the API. This enables you to maintain behavior.
Apex is included in Performance Edition, Unlimited Edition, Developer Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Database.com.
4 Best Resources to Use to Learn the (Real) Basics of Apex
1. Deepika Khana (Udemy and YouTube)
Deepika Khana has a course on Udemy that teaches Apex. Her “Salesforce Apex Programming Language” course assumes no previous coding experience.
Many of my students loved her teaching approach because she starts from the core basics of Apex, like objects and variables. Then, she advances to more complex topics in baby steps.
While much of Deepika’s training is available on YouTube, her course on Udemy is more comprehensive. You can typically buy the Udemy course for $10, and the course is yours forever.
2. Apex Academy (Pluralsight)
The examples on David Liu’s Apex Academy are easy to understand because it assumes no previous coding experience. The only drawback of the course is that Apex Academy is hosted on Pluralsight, which has a monthly subscription service ($29). Once you stop your subscription, you lose access to the course material. This is not the case with courses on Udemy.
3. Parikshith M (Youtube)
Parikshith has a wonderful YouTube channel that has a series of videos that is ideal for absolute beginners. My students feel he “provided a good explanation of Apex collections, for loops and classes and methods”.
4. System dot Debug (Youtube)
This series of 6-minute videos cover core Apex topics. My students said they are “really helpful when you need a precise and short explanation of things like System. debug, analyzing Execution Logs and understanding things like list, map and Anonymous Apex”.
Important Apex Tools
Illuminated Cloud is a wonderful plugin for IntelliJ. Advanced Salesforce developers use it, but it is also super handy for beginners. Illuminated Cloud accelerates your Apex learning because of code completion and hotkeys. Also, it helps you identify mistakes in your code. For example, if you forgot to write a semi-colon at the end of the line, it will tell you that it expected a semi-colon and highlight that part of your code in red. Plus, if you have an issue with Illuminated Cloud, Scott Wells, its founder, provides quality & fast support.
This might seem trivial, but you must become a master Googler. Anything that you find confusing or struggling with Google it! There is a 100% chance that someone else had the same question that you have, and all you need to do is find that question on a forum or Salesforce documentation and internalize that information. This will not be easy initially, but as you keep googling, you will build up this skill and then find answers to your questions within 10 seconds.
Get the Right Attitude for Apex
- Practice and repetition: There are no shortcuts to becoming a competent coder. Only students with the determination to put in 3 hours daily will succeed. You should start from scratch every time and vary your Salesforce objects or logic.
- Partner up with others and learn Apex: The core Apex concepts will sink in more intuitively by explaining and answering each other’s questions and getting over little bumps together. Practice explaining your code line by line, and you will quickly uncover your weak areas.
- If you get stuck, consider several strategies. Don’t waste time and energy starting at the computer screen, stuck in place. Give your brain a rest, get up and do something physical (like taking a walk). Your body will be forever grateful! Then consider posting your coding questions to popular Salesforce forums such as:
- salesforce subreddit (https://www.reddit.com/r/salesforce/)
- salesforce discord (https://discordapp.com/invite/6eQFVUv)
You will be amazed at how fast a member of the Salesforce community will get back to you.
What to Avoid in the Early Days
- Apex Basics on Trailhead. Trailhead is great for learning Salesforce admin concepts, but the material for learning Apex is not for beginners but people with coding experience.
- Apex Hours: this is a nice youtube channel with a series of videos for Salesforce beginners, but the videos are more for an intermediate audience, not beginners.
- Don’t learn Java. You should focus on Apex. Learning Java and reading books like HeadFirst (as suggested by David Liu) was a good idea several years ago when there were few materials for learning Apex. But this is no longer the case there. So it is not necessary to take the path to Apex using the Java detour.
Learning Apex will not be easy, but you can do it. Persevere! It is a journey that will make you smarter and more desirable on the job market. Using the above four resources combined with the two tools and three attitudes will bring triumph to your clutch. Study every day! Victory is near.