No, I am not kidding. Even if you are not a developer, you can still learn the basics of Salesforce REST API in just under 60 minutes. Here is a step-by-step do-it-yourself guide on how to make REST API calls and interact with Salesforce.

But first of all, what is Salesforce REST API? Here is a very simple explanation – Salesforce REST API allows you to interact with Salesforce from outside the Salesforce. That means that you can create / update / delete records in Salesforce from an external program. That means that you can issue a query to Salesforce and get the response.

Where are APIs used? APIs are used when you want to integrate Salesforce with other applications. Your other application can be in any language (Java, PHP, .Net, Ruby, Oracle, etc. etc.) and on any platform.

Here is an example. Say, you are using an ERP and whenever you create/update a customer in your ERP system, you want to create/update that record as an ‘Account’ in Salesforce. So what you need to do to accomplish this is to write an ‘AFTER INSERT’ trigger in your ERP database. The trigger will make a REST API call to Salesforce and will insert/update the record in the ‘Account’ object in Salesforce.

If you want to do something in Salesforce from outside Salesforce, you need to use an API. You need to make an API call. And here is a nice video explaining the concept of an API

So how do you get started with APIs in Salesforce? I created two blog posts earlier that contained step-by-step instructions on how to connect to Salesforce from Java using REST API and SOAP API. So if you are a programmer/developer it should be quite easy to follow these instructions and have a taste of how to work with Salesforce using APIs.

But what if you are from a non-programming background? Say you are an admin, functional consultant, solution architect, tester etc. If the term API sounds greek to you, stay with me for next 60 minutes or so and I assure you that by the end of it not only will you make your first API call, but also insert / update & delete records in Salesforce using APIs.

So how are we going to do this? Rather than writing a program using Java or PHP or .Net that requires skills of a seasoned developer, we will use an extension called “Advanced REST Client” (ARC) for Google Chrome. So while in a real world you will make REST API calls using Java or PHP or .Net etc. in this case we will use a client to make API calls to Salesforce and watch the response.

Here is your Step-By-Step DIY Guide on using Salesforce REST API. Enjoy it chilled with Vodka, lemon and a pinch of salt

Where can you use Advanced REST Client?

  1. You can use it when you need to create a login in Salesforce for the middleware / 3rd party system to make REST calls. You will create a user, setup the profile and use Advanced REST Client to test and ensure that the user is able to connect to Salesforce using API
  2. You can will use it when you need to test API calls. For example, you can use it to create / update / delete records in Salesforce and make sure that there are no profile/permission issues
  3. You can use it to see the response structure. When you make a REST API call to Salesforce, Salesforce will return a response. If you want to know the structure of the response, use Advanced REST Client
  4. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, use Advanced REST Client to familiarize yourself with the inner workings of Salesforce REST API. How to  make connection, how to query, insert, update and delete records.

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