Interview with Aaron Allport

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Aaron Allport is the author of Salesforce Data Architect Certification Guide; we got the chance to sit down and find out more about his experience of writing with Packt.

Q: What are your specialist tech areas?

Aaron: Salesforce Technical Architecture.

Q: How did you become an author for Packt? Tell us about your journey. What was your motivation for writing this book?

Aaron: I was approached by Packt to author an exam guide for the Data Architect exam because they came across an old blog post I’ve written on the subject (https://aaronallport.com/2018/03/04/salesforce-certified-data-architecture-management-designer-exam-tips.html). They asked if I’d be interested in turning the blog post into a book and I agreed. The rest, as they say, is history! I was motivated to write the book as it is something that I can give back to the Salesforce community who have been (and continue to be) so supportive.

Q: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

Aaron: I was fortunate to have all of the materials to hand (or I knew where to find them), so I could get set up and writing relatively quickly.

Q: Did you face any challenges during the writing process? How did you overcome them?

Aaron: I would suppose the biggest challenge was dedicating the time to give the book the attention it deserves whilst juggling family life and battling COVID-19 (twice) along the way. I have a supportive family who appreciate and support me on the process of writing the book. At the same time, it’s important to make time for family and friends to give space to decompress during the process of authoring.

Q: What’s your take on the technologies discussed in the book? Where do you see these technologies heading in the future?

Aaron: Data is everywhere. The software products and services we build as technologists continue to grow in size and complexity, and as such it’s important that solutions are scalable and can deal with the expectations of users and businesses. Given Salesforce’s architecture, it’s very important that data architecture is sound, scalable, and supports businesses in their aspirations using the platform.

Q: Why should readers choose this book over others already on the market? How would you differentiate your book from its competition?

Aaron: There are a plethora of Salesforce resources available to architects both experienced and aspiring. Data Architecture as it refers to the Salesforce platform is a very specialized subject and the exam can be seen as one of the more daunting in the Salesforce architect exam set. There isn’t another book currently on the market that specifically aims to help readers both pass the exam and serve as a reference afterwards to assist with the day-to-day job.

Q: What are the key takeaways you want readers to come away with from the book?

Aaron: 1) Understand why data architecture is important, particularly with regards to the way in which the Salesforce platform is architected and handles data.
2) Understand how to manage and govern data, including the ways in which data can be imported and exported from the Salesforce platform
3) Gain and understand key architectural principles when working with Salesforce data
3) Be able to pass the exam!

Q. What advice would you give to readers learning tech? Do you have any top tips?

Aaron: Find you technology niche and learn, learn, learn! Enjoy the process of learning, and gain experience to apply what you’ve learnt. If exams for a technology platform or area are available, then ideally an exam pass should be a formality to assert that you can demonstrate a given level of competence in your technology area.

We spend so much of our lives working, so you should enjoy what you do, including the process of learning about it.

Q. Do you have a blog that readers can follow?

Aaron: I do, but it isn’t frequently updated! It’s at https://aaronallport.com.

Q: Can you share any blogs, websites and forums to help readers gain a holistic view of the tech they are learning?

Aaron: Trailhead is a fantastic resource, and is actively maintained by Salesforce themselves (https://trailhead.salesforce.com)

As for forums, you cannot beat the meetups that take place all over the globe. Meet with other like-minded people in person and discuss the topics you’re passionate about.

Q. Do you belong to any tech community groups?

Aaron: I belong to the Salesforce London Developers and Salesforce London Architects groups.

Q. How would you describe your author’s journey with Packt? Would you recommend Packt to aspiring authors?

Aaron: It’s been a sometimes long process, but one I’ve stuck with to achieve the end result. Packt have a fantastic editorial team who are there to support you throughout the entire journey and therefore I cannot thank them enough for their support. I’d recommend anyone who is considering turning their technology passion into a book to get in touch with Packt.

Q. What are your favorite tech journals? How do you keep yourself up to date on tech?

Aaron: I am a member of the Salesforce partner community so I get digest emails of the discussions there, and I follow various leaders in the Salesforce ecosystem on Twitter. I also keep up-to-date on the Salesforce release notes and continue to keep my knowledge fresh using Trailhead. As someone who gets to practice what I am passionate about every day, I’m constantly talking to others about the latest and greatest methods or techniques for solving problems on the Salesforce platform.

For tech more widely, I’ve been a member of the British Computer Society for about 15 years now, and utilize them for a broader technology viewpoint. Their quarterly magazine covers topics such as AI, the “new normal” of post-pandemic hybrid working, and so on.

Q. How did you organize, plan, and prioritize your work and write the book?

Aaron: I authored the book in the evenings and weekends (taking care to protect family time at the weekends), and therefore it pays to be organized. When authoring the initial drafts of each chapter, break down the topics or areas in to small chunks that can be tackled in an evening or over a weekend. When working with the editorial team on their review or a technical reviewers comments, again make sure to break down the comments into small sets of changes that can be tackled over the course of evenings or weekends. This way, you can tick off your list as you progress through and continue to feel like progress is being made on the book.

Q. What is that one writing tip that you found most crucial and would like to share with aspiring authors?

Aaron: Never give up! Whenever you feel like you’re getting “writers block” or are suffering from “writing fatigue” due to the many back and forth with the fantastic editorial team at Packt, take a breath and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Q. Would you like to share your social handles? If so, please share.

Aaron: Of course! I can be found on twitter (@aaronallport), Trailblazer.me at https://trailblazer.me/id/aaron

You can find Aaron’s book on Amazon by following this link: Please click here

Salesforce Data Architect Certification Guide is Available on Amazon.com