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How To Send A Transactional Email with ExactTarget’s SOAP API

by Frank Caron on April 15, 2014, no comments

I’m currently working on an integration with ExactTarget, SalesForce’s enterprise-scale SaaS email marketing platform. The goal of the integration is to use ExactTarget to fulfill transactional emails, such as the receipt sent when a customer makes a purchase.

While the company’s new REST API is more modern and ever-improving, I went with its mature (but antiquated) WSDL. Combined with the company’s sometimes lackluster (but improving!) documentation, I’ve enjoyed a pretty steep learning and implementation curve as a result of this decision, and so, I figured I’d toss up a quick blog post as a would-be vaccine for others’ future, similar ails.

On we go. more →

Dear Product Managers: Own The Problem

by Frank Caron on March 19, 2014, no comments

Dear Frank,

download Look. I get it. You were a start-up savant. You were big fish in a small pond. Your rule of that world was absolute. As the product manager slash business analyst slash evangelist, you were the solution man.

Your scrum masters loved you because you managed Her, your customer. Your sales guys loved you because you spoke Her language. Your engineering team loved you because you shielded them from Her. And, She Herself loved you because, most importantly, you solved Her problems. Heck, even your CEO loved you because you did so in a forward-looking, efficient, and sexy way.

You had all the answers. You were the lone hero, the missing Link. You united everyone in pursuit of one common goal; you led everyone to one legendary destination.

Your owned the solution.

But here’s the deal. Your job, as a product manager, isn’t to be master of the solution. Forget about implementation. Forget about build versus buy. That’s not your most important role, and, in fact, you probably shouldn’t be the one (and definitely shouldn’t be the only one) making those decisions.

No, your job is to understand, live, and own the problem. more →

Why English Teachers Should Love Twitter

by Frank Caron on March 16, 2014, no comments

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This morning, in preparation for sending out one my oh-so-important thoughts on The Twitter, I spent a good five to ten minutes trying to refine my sound byte down to fit the 140 character file size. In doing so, I spent a great deal of effort removing unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, and five dollar words so that in their stead stood simpler, cleaner, and easier to understand punctuation, white space, and “prime” words.

Or, in other, antithetical words, I pruned my writing.

In doing so, I performed what every English teacher tries and has tried to get her students to do, often with poor results. I was refining and polishing my thought in pursuit of its simplest expression. I was performing the core activity which ten years of English classes are designed to teach, but solely because Twitter demands it.

more →

Why The Lego Movie Is The New Toy Story

by Frank Caron on February 10, 2014, no comments

In 1995, when I was 11 years old, my father, 8 year old brother, and I went to a movie theater in a small local mall to catch a kids’ movie. When we left afterwards, we were all enamored with what we’d seen in a way never rivaled during our preceding or subsequent childhood. Even my father was enthralled, and he left the movie feeling more connected not only to his kids but to his own past.

That movie was Toy Story, and it proved to be a landmark in film-making for a number of reasons, not the least of which was its uncanny ability to bring together parent and child with the common, potent, and powerful bond of play.

While Pixar went on to use this formula successfully in its supplanting of Disney as the ultimate deliverer of trans-generational entertainment, it is Village Roadshow Pictures which has stolen the mantle and created the next Toy Story with its recent release of The Lego Movie.

Having seen the movie last Friday, I now know exactly how my father felt 20 years ago when he took us to see Toy Story. more →