Salesforce gave us all an early present yesterday when the preview release notes for Spring ’15 were published. For a release which delivers on an unprecedented number of IdeaExchange suggestions, the release notes (available in HTML and PDF) are remarkably trim at just 252 pages (congratulations to Brian Kwong whose wizardry led him to the closest guess in our #Spring15PageCount competition). But we appreciate that finding the time to read ‘just’ 252 pages is tough, especially with the holiday season closing in. So here we present an early reaction to the contents of the release notes by way of a brief digest of the features we are most excited by or interested in, with links for you to explore if you wish to learn more.
- Get Faster and More Relevant Search Results: Including faster indexing; read more on the How Search Works knowledge article.
- Duplicate Alerts and Blocking: Now generally available, with improvements from the previous beta including support for custom objects and cross-object matching. For a more in-depth look at the product, see our previous post about the beta.
- Import Accounts and Contacts with Ease: A new wizard allowing you to import contacts from a wide range of sources including LinkedIn, Gmail, Google Sheets, Sugar and Act.
- DKIM Signing Outbound Email: Emails sent from Salesforce will contain a digital signature giving recipients, and their mail servers, confidence that the email was authorised by your organisation, thereby improving their experience and your deliverability rates.
- Wave/Analytics Cloud: Salesforce’s newest cloud, announced only a couple of months ago at Dreamforce, is now here. Use it to access any data to answer questions and deliver insight which allows you to act immediately. Read our October reaction to this product here, and watch the official video here as well as this very cool demo by Appirio.
- Manage Topics in Communities: Keep your communities engaged by creating meaningful topics, but also keep them tidy and easy-to-navigate by merging topics as required.
- Create Person Accounts for Self-Registering Users: If you operate in a B2C environment, this feature will allow you to create person accounts for those users who self-register, in comparison to the default previous behaviour of creating them as records on a master account.
- Community Creation Enhanced Wizard: Creating and customising your community is now easier and more intuitive thanks for this new enhanced wizard.
- Prevent Spammers from Creating Cases: Make use of a reCAPTCHA widget to protect your org from spam cases.
- Sales Path: A new guided selling app which allows you to create paths to guide your sales reps through each stage of the sales process. Show them only the fields which play a key part in progressing the opportunity to the next stage, and use informational messages to provide guidance, suggestions, words of warning or even links to other helpful supporting material like case studies or collateral. (Note: Currently only supported in Salesforce1)
- Notes (Beta): Moving from pilot to beta is the new note-taking experience, allowing users to add rich-text notes to records and giving them the ability to create standalone notes, relate notes to multiple records, search notes, create tasks from notes and report on notes.
- Users Can Adjust Their Own Forecasts: End users can now manually adjust their own forecast to present revenue or quantity changes are are foreseen but not yet reflected in the opportunity data.
- Products Now Have Field History Tracking
- Sync Recurring Tasks to Outlook: One-way sync which mirrors open recurring tasks (those created on completion of the previous task) into the user’s Outlook environment.
- Side Panel Now Matches to Custom Email Fields: Gives your users a greater chance of finding matching leads and contacts in the Outlook side panel, by ensuring it’s not just the standard Email field which the tools matches to.
- Add Emails to Multiple Records: Improvement to the Add Email feature which allows users to create separate tasks on multiple records from a single email.
- New Email Templates and Tone for Salesforce-to-Salesforce: The Salesforce-to-Salesforce product has been freshened up (more on why that is, later) and its emails have given a more conversational tone; according to the release notes it is now wearing ‘perfectly-worn jeans instead of polyester slacks’!
- Control Access to Orders with Sharing Rule: The Orders object can now have its own sharing model rather than inheriting that of its parent account.
- Use Thanks and Skills for Free: Work.com Thanks badges and skills are now included for free as part of the Sales Cloud. Congratulate our staff on their achievements, or thank them for their support!
- Use Macros in the Case Feed: Speed up your support processes by allowing agents to automatically completed repetitive tasks in a single click using macros.
- Assets Redesigned as a Standard Object: Do more with assets, including adding as Assets tab, defining sharing rules and record types, specifying an owner and tracking field history.
- Salesforce Console Enhancements: New abilities include cloning console apps, and allowing users to rearrange and customise their console tabs.
- Social Action in Lead Feed: Let your sales users respond to leads in the same way your support reps would respond to social cases – right where your customers are, out there in the social world.
- Organization Sync: Achieve the nirvana of zero downtime with this paid-for add-on. Using the all-new all-fresh Salesforce-to-Salesforce, you can ensure continued access to your data (via a secondary synced org) even when your primary org is undergoing maintenance.
- Add Records to Chatter Groups: Allow users to collaborate on specific records, like accounts, opportunities or cases, by adding them to internal-only groups.
- Connect to Content in OneDrive: Search, access and share files from Microsoft’s cloud-based content system.
- Question-to-Case: The ability to generate cases from unresolved questions is now generally available.
- Moderate Chatter Private Messages with Triggers: Protect Private Messages from becoming a hiding place for sensitive conversations by writing triggers to prevent certain messages from being sent (for example to blacklist a set of keywords).
- Subscribe to Report Notifications: Stay up to date on the metrics that matter most to you by subscribing to report notifications. This feature works in a similar way to scheduling a report, except the alert (Salesforce1 notification, Chatter post, email notification or a custom action) will only go out if the report results meet certain criteria. Do your Sales Managers want to be warned if the opening pipeline for the month is below a certain threshold? Or what about your Support Managers knowing when case volume passes a tolerance level? This feature will give you the ability to satisfy those kind of use cases.
Force.com Customization – General Administration
- Create or Edit Records Owned by Inactive Users: No more unhelpful and unnecessary errors when working on a record owned by an inactive user. Go ahead with that edit – you won’t now be forced to either change the owner or reactivate the user. You can even create records assigned to inactive users if necessary.
- Standard Address Fields Show Google Maps: We talked about this one previously. One thing we haven’t seen delivered yet is the address completion function. Let’s keep an eye on the link, since this may be added into to the release notes at a later date.
- Geolocation: This has now gone GA, meaning geolocation fields and the DISTANCE() function can be used in workflow rules, approval processes and validation rules.
Force.com Customization – Data
- Field Audit Trail: Define a policy for how long you wish to retain field history tracking. Note that the default retention for Salesforce will become 18 months, and that this payable feature will allow you to extend that anywhere up to 10 years.
Force.com Customization – Business Logic and Process Automation
- Lightning Process Builder: After just one release in beta, the Process Builder is now generally available! If this is the first you’re hearing of Process Builder, it’s a process automation tool that is configured a little like workflow rules but has a better UI and many more additional actions available to it, more in line with Visual Flow – but without the learning curve. Use it to further extend the ‘cliff’ between clicks and code, and check out why we think it’s going to be a revolutionary tool here. Changes made to the product since we discussed the beta include: creating versions of a process; calling Apex methods from a process; the ability to trigger a process multiple times in one transaction; the Is Changed operator (in contrast to the existing function); conditional logic; sortable lists of processes; the ability to use multi-select picklists; no requirement for formulas to contain spaces inside parentheses.
- Visual Workflow: You can now give your users the ability to pause flows, for example if a call is dropped or the conversation gets interrupted. Trigger-ready flows are now known as autolaunched flows. Thankfully the Waiting Interview section has been improved to show more information about the flows with pending actions.
Force.com Customization – Other
- Cross-Object References in Quick Actions: When specifying predefined field values for an action, you can now include values from related objects.
- Deploy Your Components in Less Time: This beta feature now goes GA, allowing you to bypass the execution of Apex tests for change sets who have already had their tests run in the last four days.
- Visualforce Map Components: Use the Google Maps integration listed above to create your own map components in Visualforce.
- Set Up Test Data for Entire Class: Save time building tests by setting up test data once for use in every method in the class.
- Access Address and Geolocation Compound Fields in Apex
- Lightning Components (Beta): Use components to build Lightning apps for Salesforce1. Although still in beta, Lightning is going to be central to the future of the entire platform – we’re going to be struck by lightning more than once over the next few releases. To ensure you’re totally up to speed, also check out the developer’s guide.
With so many new features, including some truly ground-breaking introductions like Process Builder and Duplicate Management, Spring ’15 is going to be a monster of a release. We hope that this digest will allow you to pick out the features which will make the most difference to your org or your customers and show you where to go to find out more. As the release notes evolve and more detail is known, we will be sure to keep you updated. Until then, and as ever, we’d love to know your thoughts – what features are you most looking forward to and why?