Logging Into Force.com Explorer

Force.com Explorer is a really useful tool that gives you the ability to explore database tables within your Saleforce environment and run queries against them. Even though this tool has been retired since 2011, I still actively use it purely because I prefer to have an application installed on my computer, rather than the web-based tool - Workbench.

I am writing this post for two reasons: Firstly, for Salesforce newcomers and secondly, one of my fellow developers working on the same project as me was having issues logging into Force.com Explorer. Judging by the title of this post this may sound a little self-explanatory or dim-witted. Nevertheless, it's a worthy post!

Before I get to it, I am assuming you know the following three things:

  • How to generate a Security Token.
  • Create a Connected App.
  • Generate Client ID and Client Secret from your Connected App.

Salesforce Force.com Explorer Login

The easiest part of the login form is entering your login credentials and selecting the type of environment you are planning to explore. Just ensure you have a user login credentials that has sufficient access rights to explore Salesforce database objects.

The Client ID field is a little misleading because this field doesn't just accept the Client ID key generated from your Connected App alone. It can also accept the following combination:"<Client-ID><Security-Token>". So don't make a misconception where the Client ID is only accepted.

As you probably know (if you built apps using Salesforce API), combining the Client ID and Security Token allows you to access Salesforce data from any IP. If you whitelisted a specific IP in the Trusted IP Range at Connected App level, you might get away with using the Client ID alone.

Resize An Instagram Image Using A Media Query Parameter

This is something I have been meaning to post for quite some time, ever since I first started working on integrating Instagram's API in web applications from 2013. - The ability to resize an image from Instagram without having to deal with registering for an API key and worrying about request limits.

This approach is ideal if you have no requirement to get further information about an image, such as description, comments, likes etc.

Believe it or not, Instagram contains quite a neat (somewhat hidden) feature that gives you the ability to output three different sized images directly into a webpage, by constructing the path to an image as so: https://www.instagram.com/p/<image-id>/media/?size=<size-parameter>.

The supported "size parameters" are:

  • t - for thumbnail (150px x 150px)
  • m - for medium (306px x 306px)
  • l - for large (640px x 640px) 

The great thing about using the media parameter is that the requested image size is served up immediately. For example, we could embed an Instagram image directly into our HTML markup as so:

<p style="text-align: center;">
  <img alt="Mr. Brown - The Office Dog" src="https://www.instagram.com/p/uz_8x2qW6E/media/?size=m">
</p>

Which will render the following output:

Mr. Brown - The Office Dog

In this case, this is a picture of Mr. Brown (the office dog) from my Instagram profile in medium size.

JSON/XML To Strongly-Typed C# Object In Visual Studio

Today, I stumbled across a really neat feature in Visual Studio 2015 that gives you the ability to create a strongly-typed C# class directly into your class library. I'm amazed that I've happened to overlook this key feature since Visual Studio 2012!

Better late than never.

In the past, when consuming large JSON data-structures, I normally head off to json2csharp.com to help me get the initial class objects generated, which works a treat. I've blogged about my experiences using json2csharp here.

The strongly-type class generator feature is hidden away in a place I would never have thought to look - Edit > Paste Special, where you will be given the option to either generate a class object based on XML or JSON. But it's in there for a reason.

Paste Special - To Json or XML Class

All that needs to be done now is to either copy some XML or JSON ready to paste into a newly created class. I do find the generated output quite untidy, but this is a great starting point to generating complex data structures.