Salesforce Open Source Commons

Aaron Crosman
Senior Specialist

This year, Attain has been a proud contributor in formalizing Salesforce.org’s Open Source Commons initiative to support the nonprofit community through new open source projects.

Over the years, our team has contributed to Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), Education Data Architecture (EDA), and other open source projects. That work has helped Attain forge strong relationships with the project teams and allowed us to provide critical input into the direction those projects take, and now we’re helping to power the next generation of these Salesforce efforts. We are committed to using this opportunity to help resolve challenges facing our clients and other organizations.

In October 2019, I attended my first Salesforce.org Community Sprint in Philadelphia. As part of the first exercise, we were asked to propose projects that we were interested in seeing move forward. I posted that the community needed an effective tool to quickly generate test data for complex projects—it became quickly obvious that we were not alone. Several other attendees expressed an interest as we all find it time consuming to maintain datasets for large projects, meaning better tools could reduce costs and save time. The idea was selected for work during that sprint and once the ball got rolling, great ideas started flowing and a clear energy emerged. By the end of the sprint, we had created proof-of-concept code for one aspect of the problem.

When Salesforce was forced to cancel the Atlanta Sprint due to COVID-19, I wasn’t sure what would happen to all that drive. But the data initiative was selected by the Salesforce team for continuation during their first Virtual Sprint. Again, we saw the same positive energy and more ideas that helped the project evolve to include a vision for both new tools and better documentation for existing tools. We agreed to take the next steps to initiate a formal project under the Salesforce Open Source Commons banner, and so was born the Data Generation Toolkit project. I’m proud to represent Attain by serving as one of the project leaders for the group.

I’m excited to see that Salesforce has taken the need seriously and started to create a new Open Source tool called Snowfakery that will likely be the core data generation engine for the tool that started as a suggestion back in Philadelphia.

From an idea posted on a piece of paper on a wall, to a group of community members with a full vision, to the real tool created to help meet a community need, it has been an exciting ride—and we’re just getting started.

Even with COVID-19 forcing a change in the process, Salesforce has shown an ongoing commitment to community sprints. There will be another Virtual Sprint from September 23 – 24, and Salesforce is experimenting with mini-sprints for the various projects—hopefully including the Data Generation Toolkit team. If you’re able, please consider attending the next Sprint and help the community grow.

 

About the Author

Aaron Crosman is a Senior Specialist in Attain's Salesforce Services Group. After a decade working IT and Digital Communications for a nonprofit, Aaron moved to consulting to help organizations create first-class online communications systems. He specializes in Drupal development and Salesforce integrations for our nonprofit and higher education clients.

By Aaron Crosman, Senior Specialist