This year’s Dreamforce event hasn’t even run its course yet, and already there is much buzz in the community around some of the new features that have been announced. Here we will give a brief, immediate reaction to one that we believe is the future of declarative development on the Salesforce platform – the Lightning Process Builder.
What is it?
Think of the Process Builder as Workflow 2.0 – a next-generation business process automation tool. Salesforce admins already love workflow for what it can do to automate business processes, but the Process Builder goes way further.
So what’s new?
The first thing you’ll notice is a new, more graphical UI. Compared to Process Builder, with its flowchart-like appearance and fresh look and feel, building a regular workflow now feels decidedly old hat.
But the most exciting part isn’t what it looks like – it’s what it can do. A process that may before have required a number of workflow rules can now be built in one confluent stream. And we’re no longer constrained by simply field updates, email alerts, tasks or outbound messages: we can now post to Chatter, submit a record for approval, trigger a headless flow, call a publisher action, and (hallelujah!) even create records through point-and-click.
Why would I need it?
Well, all of those new actions listed above previously required writing Apex code, which takes time to build, test, deploy and maintain and which many of us don’t have in our toolbelt.
Think of all the use cases to which we can now say ‘no problem’: automatically submit records for approval when they hit the criteria; create an order or an asset when an opportunity is closed; post a congratulations message to Chatter when a big deal is won.
What does this replace?
Although we referred to the Process Builder as Workflow 2.0 earlier, the old way of creating workflow rules is still around. And despite some expectations to the contrary in the community, it does not replace Flow or unify visual flow and workflow. But it does at least bring them closer together: through one UI you can now build super-charged workflow rules which include the ability to run flows in the background.
You really want to bogged down in the negatives?! Well, if you must know, there are a few things which we feel need improving.
Error handling is done very much in the same way as with flows, which is to say it’s barely done at all. If something goes wrong, you will get a very generic and undecipherable ‘Failed to Trigger Flow’. But if you turn on the debug logs or open up the dev console and try again, you should at least be able to comb through for some clues.
One of the very few areas where classic workflow perhaps still has an edge is around editing live processes. With the Process Builder, if you want to make a change to the logic, you have to deactivate the process, save it as a new one, make the changes and then activate the second version. Acceptable and understandable, but something to get used to.
Lastly, but critically, there doesn’t appear to be anywhere to monitor pending scheduled actions. In classic workflow, you can go into Time-Based Workflow in Setup to see what actions are scheduled to happen when, but Salesforce product managers have confirmed there is currently nowhere to check this for scheduled process actions – so we have posted this idea.
But seriously, when you get given a point-and-click way to automate processes like creating new records, you have to say ‘I can live with a few teething problems; this is awesome!’.
OK, so how do I get it?
Assuming your org is on the Winter ’15 release (which everyone will be within a few days), you can get the Process Builder enabled by logging a case with support.
Where can I find out more?
To further your knowledge of this new feature, we recommend checking out the following useful links:– Feature Demo – Overview Deck – Official Automation Community Group – Help Guide: Overview – Help Guide: Understanding the UI – Help Guide: Sample Process
Hopefully this quick summary has shown you just how big an impact the Process Builder will have on how Salesforce Administrators go about customising and automating their business processes. And, as with most Salesforce features, we can expect to see it iterated on and improved even further in future releases. This is here to stay and soon we won’t be able to live without it.
Stay tuned for further post-Dreamforce reactions, including our thoughts on Lightning and Wave.