Tag Archives: Force.com Platform

Tquila’s Gamification Engine: Under the Hood

Gamification with TquilaAs Iain mentioned in an earlier post, we’ve been busy building a gamification engine on the Salesforce platform for a client.

In this post I dig a little deeper into how the engine works.

Design considerations
Having gathered requirements from the client, we first considered off-the-shelf gamification apps. Looking at what was already available gave us some great additional ideas – but also confirmed that we needed to create a bespoke solution.

As we designed the bespoke app, we kept a few key elements in mind:

  • It had to be flexible: our client’s business embraces change, so the gamification engine had to as well. It should be easy for an admin to modify the rules that award points and badges.
  • It had to deliver in real time: users want instant gratification, so they need immediate notification when they’re awarded new points and badges.
  • It had to be fun and sexy: users expect slick, engaging experiences. In order to successfully drive the end business goal – increased collaboration and productivity – the system has to make users love using it.

How the engine works
The first step is stakeholders deciding which activities they’d like to gamify.

Then an admin user accesses the Gamification Admin Console, and defines the specific actions that will be gamified – for example, “Lead Creation” or “Contact Phone Updates”. The admin then allocates points, based on specific activities and different users’ roles.

The next step is badge and trophy creation: uploading icons for each new badge and trophy, and defining achievement rules and weightings for each group of users.

The rule definition is fairly simple. Using common operators like AND, OR, NOT, SUM, the admin creates functions that include actions and weighting that users must fulfil in order to win an award.

For example: in order to achieve the “Lead-Gen Leader” badge, a user has to create 50 leads and update all the phone numbers for the leads. To set this up the admin would define the rules as:

AND(50″Lead Creation”, 50″Contact Lead Phone Update”).

To keep the evaluation process simple, the functions are compiled into an easy-to-process tree dataset. Using the Composite Pattern, whenever a new badge is created, the dataset is loaded and the evaluation is carried out invoking the same interface on different nodes, whose implementation depends on node types: AND, OR, NOT, SUM, etc.

Keeping users engaged: What they see
Each user has a “Social User Profile”, which acts as their gamification and achievements dashboard. Here they can see which badges and trophies they’ve achieved, future goals, points, trends and their activity timeline.

To simplify navigation and tap into users’ competitive spirit, we created a number of widgets, like friends and rivals.

To support the engaging UI, we added some different kinds of notifications. An element of instant gratification is important, but users don’t want to feel inundated, or suffer from email overload. So we’ve balanced different levels of on-screen notification. We built a nifty javascript framework that collects notifications and displays them in Salesforce – either as subtle animations or full-screen events, depending on the achievement.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Tquila’s approach to gamification, please get in touch! We’ll follow up with a code-centric post soon, which will give you more insight into the structure of our system and design decisions we’ve made.

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We’re building a gamification engine on Salesforce!

Tquila loves gamificationPiow piow! Gamification is so hot right now. In fact it’s probably too hot, with many online services adding badges and a leader-board to their sites without always thinking about the business value. Its popularity means there are also a lot of misconceptions about gamification (How can I make my accounting app more like World Of Warcraft? Can I bring Angry Birds into my sales pipeline?).

So what is gamification? Gamification is about bringing elements of what make games fun, addictive and rewarding in to every-day business applications. Why? Because if you can harness even a part of the energy users put in to games like Plants vs Zombies (yes really), you can super-charge your customer activity and employee performance.

Recently I’ve been working with a team at Tquila on some exciting new gamification features aimed at driving specific user behaviours within Salesforce. We’re not just adding trophies, we’re starting from business goals and working up from there. We’ve pinpointed different behaviours we want to encourage (initially around capturing quality contact data) and have built a bespoke engine to help our clients change their focus over time.

Why didn’t we use one of the myriad of gamification add-ons currently available? Because we spent time understanding our client, and nothing out-of-the-box was going to get them where they wanted to go. Cost was also a factor: why pay a monthly fee per user for something quite generic? Instead, we created a bespoke gamification engine that’s easy for the client to manage – and we’re all really excited with the results.

We’ll continue the rollout in the coming months, and we’re looking forward to sharing the lessons we’ve learned. My colleague Dario has driven the technical design, and is keen to share information on the engine itself. If you’re interested in learning more about gamification, this book by Kevin Werbach came out in October last year, and is an excellent start.

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Tech Teardown @ the Salesforce Dev Meetup

Last night I attended the (newly re-named) London Salesforce Developers meetup at the very cool 10Gen offices near Old Street.

For anyone thinking that a developer meet up is a daunting experience which is only for the select elite who will shun the newbies – think again… As a fairly green developer, I found myself getting advice from certified technical architects who were more than willing to help me understand the platform and how I could learn more.

This could only have been done in the friendly vibe that the London salesforce developer group provides – no egos, just loads of cool, like-minded people talking about work they are proud of (along with free beer and pizza).

My highlights were:

  1. Hearing what the community is excited about
    The open panel gave some real insight into what every one is getting excited about after Dreamforce 12. Mobile is very much the talk of the town.

  2. Salesforce Celebrities
    I found myself getting a little starstruck meeting a few of the major Salesforce community celebs, like @Petercoffee and @bob_buzzard, and hearing what they had to say.

  3. Being inspired
    Hearing from the panel that getting into mobile development is not a scary thing got me inspired to go home, fire up Xcode and start going through GitHub for some projects.

If you’re a Salesforce developer – or interested in what it’s all about – I highly recommend coming along to the next one!

See more about the London Salesforce Developers group on Meetup.com

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Meet the Tquila team: Zaidy Ramirez

This is the second in a series of posts that will introduce you to members of the Tquila team.

Meet Zaidy Ramirez, one of our technical consultants.

Zaidy joined Tquila in November 2010. When she’s not working her magic with Salesforce – as both a developer and consultant – she loves salsa dancing and making exotic cocktails.

Here’s what Zaidy has to say about her role at Tquila:

What I do
“I develop applications on Salesforce and Force.com, using technologies like Apex, SOQL, SOSL and Visualforce.”

Why I love my job
“I love my job because it allows me to get involved in a wide variety of projects. As I progress in my career, each new project gives me a fresh perspective on the development life cycle.

I also get to know new professionals who share their expertise, and allow me to improve my skills every day. And I learn more about the countries where our clients are based – I love travelling!”

Why I love Tquila
“I love working at Tquila because it has a great work environment. Everyone is eager to help and teach – we always take time to help each other out, whether we’re working on the same projects or not.”

Want to know more? Follow Zaidy on Twitter!

Ready to join Tquila?
Check out our current roles, or send your CV direct to careers@tquila.com.

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Meet the Tquila team: KC Thiruchelvam

This is the first in a series of posts that will introduce you to members of the Tquila team.

Meet KC Thiruchelvam, one of our technical consultants.

KC joined Tquila in July 2011. When he’s not utilising his considerable expertise as both a developer and consultant, he’s an independent filmmaker.

Here’s what he has to say about his role at Tquila:

What I do
“As a technical consultant, I help clients implement the Force.com platform and associated web technologies.”

Why I love my job
“It’s rare to find a job that allows you to be fantastically creative while being constantly challenged.

Every day I come into work looking forward to learning something new, while at the same time knowing I’m making a real difference for our clients.”

Why I love Tquila
“The energy and passion within Tquila is extremely motivating.

It’s great to know I’m working with some of the most talented, intelligent, and supportive professionals in our industry. On top of this, everyone seems to be personally awesome too!”

Want to know more? Follow KC on Twitter.

Ready to join Tquila?
Check out our current roles, or send your CV direct to careers@tquila.com.

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Platform in Paris

A couple of our platform gurus travelled to Paris last week, to participate in a platform-focused half-day session hosted by salesforce.com.

At the event, we talked about two important parts of the Salesforce ecosystem that are at the heart of Tquila:

  • Heroku evangelist Vincent Spehner talked about the advantages of Heroku, and gave a demonstration of Formstorm (beta) – an exciting new way to build web-to-anything forms that integrates with Salesforce.

  • Force.com guru Christophe Vidal illustrated the power of Force.com as he told the story of HR New Media, a fast-growing business that has leveraged the platform to form the backbone of their business.

Couldn’t make it – or want to refresh your memory? View our presentation (in French) [PDF, 2MB]

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Live Social, Code Social: Join Tquila @ Cloudstock

Live Social, Code Social: Join Tquila @ CloudstockThe whole Tquila team is pretty excited about Cloudforce London.

The more technically-minded members of our team have even more to get fired up about – they’re getting ready for Cloudstock!

If you’re not already in the know, Cloudstock is a free developer event where you can learn about APIs, best practices, and tools you can use to build mobile, social, and real-time applications.

At the heart of Cloudstock is the Dev Zone, which offers demos, a hack lab, community talks and a whole load more.

If you haven’t already signed up to attend – it’s free! – head over and sign up now!

The Tquila team won’t just be attending – a number of our all-star technical team will also be presenting on the day.

Fancy learning about cutting-edge platforms like Heroku and Force.com? Want to find out what it’s like to build innovative, social applications? Don’t miss Nicola, Vincent & Wes’ presentations!

See what the Tquila team are doing on the day

Joining us on the day? Be sure to include #cloudstock and #tquila in your tweets to be part of the action!

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Tquila + Cloudforce + Cloudstock = Like!

Cross-posted from Thoughts from Tquila

Tquila + Cloudforce + Cloudstock = Like!If you’re anything like us, you’re starting to get pretty excited about Cloudforce London – and Cloudstock!

Make sure that you drop by our booth on the day – to meet our all-star team and discuss your dream project, listen to one of our Tech-Byte presentations, or enter the draw to win a new iPad!

It’s going to be a massive event. To help you keep up with what we get up to during the day – check out our (ever-evolving) schedule below – and follow #tquila on the day for more updates!


Cloudforce: In the theatre

  • 12:00 – 12:20: Find out what it’s really like to work with Tquila – hear our client, Ed Smiley-Jones from Fuel, speak on “The Power of Uniting Data & Creativity”


Cloudforce: At the Tquila booth

  • 12:30 – 12:45: Vincent Spehner: “Instant Marketing Microsites Driven by Heroku & Integrated With Facebook”

  • 13:00-13:15: Nicola Tassini: “Break Free with Database.com & Heroku”

  • 14:45-15:00: Wes Nolte: “Eye-Popping Mobile Apps”

  • 16:15 – 16:30: Henrique Moniz de Aragão: “Get Social in 15 Minutes!”



  • 12:00 – 12:30: Wes Nolte: “Using JS Remoting and JavaScript MVC frameworks to build beautiful apps on Force.com”

  • 15:30 – 16:00: Nicola Tassini: “Break Free with Database.com & Heroku”

  • 16:15 – 16:45: Vincent Spehner: “Real Life Ruby app for Salesforce”
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Introducing Tquila Labs

Tquila is growing at a pace that is nearly unbelievable. Our consultants are taking London and now Munich by storm but we’ve seen another gap and are working furiously to plug it. To that end I’d like to announce Tquila Labs – a branch of the company dedicated to building innovative applications on Heroku and the Force.com Platform – both inside and outside of the consulting sphere.

Expect great things from Labs! Not only will we be building awesome applications for the enterprise but we’ll releasing l33t open-source tools under the banner of The Tquila Commons from time to time so don’t forget to follow us on github!

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Across the pond with Jeff Douglas

“Across the Pond” is a series of Q&A blog posts where I interview some of the salesforce.com and Force.com Platform‘s brightest stars. Most recently I interviewed Jeff Douglas, a Force.com MVP, Force.com Hero, Blogger, Author, Open-source developer and all-around nice guy. He’s a senior consultant for Appirio and most recently started in the role of Developer Evangelist at Cloudspokes (which is incredibly awesome). You can find him on twitter @jeffdonthemic.

Q: Tell us a bit about your career. Where did you start, and how did you get to where you are today?

I was actually the teacher’s assistant in computer class in high school writing BASIC and Pascal. I would have never guessed that I’d be where I am right now! I actually went into sales right after college because I “wanted to be rich” but absolutely hated it. I quit shortly thereafter and started doing web design which is funny ‘cuz I can’t even draw a crooked line. I soon landed a job with a multi-national company managing their global website development shop while doing my own biz on the side. That introduced me to a guy and we subsequently started a business doing Java development for SAP R/3. Actually… this is getting too damn long…. just go check out my LinkedIn profile for details but I eventually took a Salesforce.com class from someone at Appirio and joined them about a year and a half later. Love the company, love the industry and love the people at Appirio! Continue reading
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