09 April 2018

Getting Badgy at a Trailhead Badge-a-thon

I had an incredible conversation at TrailheaDX ‘18 with Mark Korf. During that conversation, we discussed a really interesting problem - how do you report on badges at a Trailhead badge-a-thon?

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, ‘I’ve heard of a hack-a-thon, but what’s a badge-a-thon?!’

A badge-a-thon is an event where you bring together trailblazers who compete to earn badges. Those people who win the badge-a-thon earn prizes like cool swag.

But the best part of the badge-a-thon is that it brings Trailblazers together using Trailhead, the fun way to learn Salesforce. Badge-a-thons introduce trailblazers to career opportunities by learning about Salesforce while keeping it fun and engaging.

We had one badge-a-thon last month where over ten thousand badges were earned!

What Mark wanted to do was host badge-a-thons at user groups and with schools to open career opportunities and enable trailblazers to do their jobs more effectively, all while they were having fun and winning swag.

In order to award the swag, Mark needed to track who earned the most badges. Enter Trail Tracker from the AppExchange.

Integrating the Trailhead Profile into an org for tracking badge activity

Trail Tracker is a free app on the AppExchange that enables you to guide your trailblazers through their Salesforce learning adventure on Trailhead. Assign, track, and report on badges earned by your team via pre-built reports and dashboards to take your Salesforce game to the next level.

Free AppExchange App

Trail Tracker was originally intended to enable the tracking of employees badges. Mark didn’t have employees, he had user groups and student trailblazers. This presented a different problem. How do you bring individuals together, many of whom were already in their own production orgs, for the purpose of tracking their badges during the event?

How to set up Trail Tracker for a Trailhead Badge-a-thon

1. Sign up for a Developer Edition org: https://developer.salesforce.com/signup

You need someplace to track the results. Developer Edition is a free org you can use to try out things. And while you can use an existing org like production, you’re going to be adding non-production users so it’s better to keep it separate.

Sign up page

2. Install Trail Tracker into the new org: https://sfdc.co/trailtracker

Just head to the AppExchange and install Trail Tracker in your newly provisioned Developer Edition Org. It’s a good idea to have the installation directions and the FAQ standing by in case you need it.

Trail Tracker installed in Developer Edition Org

3. Add badge-a-thon participants as new Chatter Free Users

Besides being free, Developer Edition also provides 5000 Chatter Free licenses which enables you to host a badge-a-thon up to that number easily.

5000 Chatter Free Licenses

Keep in mind, Chatter Free licenses don’t have any access to object data in an org in case you're concerned about those users accessing data that they shouldn't.

Create a new Chatter Free user for each badge-a-thon participant

4. Configure Trail Tracker

Configuring Trail Tracker may be a little challenging as many integrations tend to be. I highly recommend having the installation directions handy for this part.

When you configure Trail Tracker, make sure to select at least the Chatter Free license type as well as Standard.

Trailhead Setup

Configure the sync to run at the end of your event so you can do the final tally. The sync currently runs once per day.

Sync Settings

5. Have your new badge-a-thon users login for the first time

You want your newly minted Chatter Free users to login and change their password. They’ll need the password for the next part.

If the user has never logged into Trailhead before, they can just go directly to sign up and start earning badges. Since they’re logging in using the Chatter Free user you provisioned for them, their badges will automatically start flowing into your Developer Edition org every time Trail Tracker syncs. However, if your users already have Trailhead users established, you'll need to follow a slightly different path.

6. Link/merge Trailhead User Accounts for Existing Trailhead Users

This is conceptually the most interesting part of the entire solution.

The way Trailhead works, each user earns badges. But each user may use multiple identities to login to view their badges.

Some users already have a Trailhead login and don’t want to give up their badges. The good news is that they don’t have to. They can link or merge their accounts.

You can read more about linking and merging from the knowledge base article: https://force.desk.com/customer/en/portal/articles/2896953-trailhead-self-service-account-merge?b_id=13477.

The decision to link or merge comes down to one thing - is there already an existing Trailhead user with badges or is this a new identity that you’re going to use to login to your existing Trailhead user?

If it’s the latter, you’ll just need to link the two.

Have your users login to Trailhead using their normal login and go to settings.

Trailhead Settings

Under settings, have them go to the Salesforce Login section and click the ‘Connect or Merge’ button.

Connect or Merge

Login using your newly provisioned Chatter Free user from the badge-a-thon org. You’ll be prompted to login and allow access.

Allow access

Then you’ll be prompted to link accounts.

Link Account

Once linked, you can go back to Trailhead where you’ll see your newly linked login under the settings page for your existing Trailhead user and you're user is ready to go. Any badges they earn, regardless of whether they login using their existing identity or the newly created Chatter Free identity, will be added to the single Trailhead user that you can report on.

Salesforce Linked Accounts

However, if you have overachievers who have already signed up for Trailhead using their badge-a-thon Chatter Free users and started to earn badges, you’ll need to have them merge accounts with their existing user. Don’t worry, no badges will get lost in the process and they never lose access to their Trailhead user.

Have those users login to their existing Trailhead user account and go to settings. They should click the ‘Connect or Merge’ button and login using the badge-a-thon Chatter Free user that also has badges. They’ll be prompted to merge their accounts an provided with all the information about what badges and points will go once the merge is complete.

It’s merging time!

Then comes the scary screen - ‘the merge is irreversible’ - Are you sure? Of course you are!

Are you sure?!

After the merge, you’ll see the results.

Merge Results

And now you can login using either your existing Trailhead user’s identity or the newly provisioned badge-a-thon Chatter Free user that was provisioned for you. Once again, our single Trailhead user may have multiple identities that they use to login in order to earn badges.

Salesforce Login

And when those users earn badges against their single Trailhead user, they’ll be sharing them with the badge-a-thon org based on the affinity to the Chatter Free user identity that they've linked to.

After the badge-a-thon, or at any point, your users can remove the Chatter Free identity from settings by clicking the big ‘X’ under the Actions menu next to the identity that shouldn’t be used any longer. That will opt them out of sharing the badge data with the badge-a-thon org and will prevent that Chatter Free identity from being used to login to their Trailhead user. That way, your users can choose whether to opt-in or opt-out from sharing badge data, all without ever losing any badges in the process.

6. Track badges in Trail Tracker

Finally, you’re ready for the big day. Your trailblazers can now start earning badges. And when you login to your badge-a-thon org with Trail Tracker, you can navigate to the app to track the activity.

App Menu

Just go to Dashboards and click on the Trailhead Overview.

Dashboards Tab

Trailhead Overview Dashboard

You can customize the dashboard as you need and run reports that help you understand what badges are being earned by which badge-a-thon users.

8. Award prizes

The day of the badge-a-thon is finally here! Time for your users to start learning and winning some cool prizes.

My kingdom for a hoodie!

Don't worry about copying down all of these steps, they're all available on the following trailmix if you want to track them: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/users/005500000060MZlAAM/trailmixes/getting-badgy.

Thanks Mark for the great use case!!


  1. You beat me to it, wanted to write this up, but never had time to do it.
    Testing this to keep track of my colleague's progress.

    I would advice as well, if users are asked by their companies to use their company log-in.
    Just create a second trailhead account with the company log in, log out, log in with your main account and link the company log in.
    In this way your company can keep track of your badges, but you keep ownership of your primary user account on Trailhead.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thanks for reading the post!

      I'm a huge advocate of reducing the number of Trailhead users someone has as it gets confusing to manage multiple accounts with potentially duplicate badges. It's like creating multiple LinkedIn accounts - it becomes confusing to manage which account is being used for which purpose.

      The Trailhead user account is always owned by the user, not the org. Only the identities are used to access it in order to give you flexibility for logging in and tracking. At any point, a user may opt-out of sharing their badge information by removing the identity from their list of Salesforce Logins.

  2. Great managed package! I have a concern about scaling though. I've just set up a dev edition with the tracker and linked a "local" user to my Trailhead account. As I have 370+ badges, once the sync runs it uses up 750Kb of storage for my user badges, or around 15% of the data available to the dev org. Add in the trails/badges and I have 2Mb consumed, or 40%. This means that I'd only be able to add another 4 users with a similar badge count to myself, which won't scale that well. Any plans to only sync the user badges that have been earned since a specific time? That would scale reasonably well (although not to ten thousand badges earned at a single event!).

    1. Hi Keir - great point. Developer Edition is much better suited to a smaller badge-a-thon. The math works out to be about 1300 UserBadge records. Although the org edition wasn't really the goal of the post, there are other options that you can explore for more space. Signing up for a trial org would work and give you a bit more space (about 1 gb which equates to about 500k records), although the event would have to take place within 30 days before the org would expire.

      Thanks for the idea to limit the badges earned during a specific period of time. I'll look into that one as it fits nicely into events like a badge-a-thon.

      Thanks for reading the post and commenting! I appreciate the feedback!

    2. Hi Adam,

      Great call on the trial org. The 30 day limit will be fine and the data is disposable once the event is completed. Thanks!

  3. Adam,

    Thanks for the step by step on this! This is awesome! I'll be testing it this weekend in prep for the inaugural Bellevue, WA User Group meeting. Will let you know how it goes.

    Also Keir brings up a very valid concern. Storage could very well become a problem as each of us knows that we will have hundreds of users earning thousands of badges in our groups! ;-)


    1. Keir's point is totally valid. Another free org you can use which is only limited by time is a trial org. Signing up for a trial org would work and give you a bit more space (about 1 gb which equates to about 500k records), although the event would have to take place within 30 days before the org would expire.

  4. Great post! I am wondering about the reporting of it afterwards. I have trailtracker set up and I can see that people are completing the badges but I cannot see a good report to show the progress. In your steps, there is a great dashboard but I don't see that. I've seen other posts with reports that I also can't see. I just want to see people's badges and completions and I can't get to it.

    Thank you!

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