Before we knew it, Winter has become a distant memory and Spring is edging its way towards the exit. Yes, that’s right – Summer is nearly here!
And that means that we’re also preparing for Salesforce’s Summer ’16 release, their 50th major product release! Quite the milestone for a company founded 17 years ago.
It’s always difficult enough to find time to read through the release notes, not to mention the task faced in trying to distill those notes into an easy-to-digest summary. (Salesforce, you’re giving us too many new features and enhancements – we can’t keep up! Yeah, yeah, I know – we shouldn’t complain.) That task becomes even more daunting when you consider that this release brings with it not just new features but entirely new editions.
So we decided to take a slightly different approach for this post. Instead of condensing all the impressive features and interesting updates into one lengthy post, here we’ll present a brief summary of just ten features to look out for in Summer ’16 – features we’re particularly interested in or that we think are worth you checking out further if you don’t have time to read the preview release notes in full.
Presenting our Summer ’16 top ten…
And for a release that brings us the new Lightning Editions, where better to start than with my five favourite features introduced for the Lightning Experience, which just keeps getting flashier and flashier?
Lightning shines brighter with each release
Create and Edit Lightning Experience Home Pages
When the Lightning Experience was launched, it was targeted initially at a sales audience, and the home page was designed accordingly, with a sales attainment chart front and centre. But now you admins can use the Lightning App Builder to design your own home page layouts, and you can move and replace components to your heart’s desire!
Want to replace the quarterly performance component with a chart from a custom report that means more to your users? Go for it! Want to ditch Account Insights or move the Assistant to somewhere else on the page? You got it! And, just like in the Classic UI, you can assign different layouts to each profile. Neat!
Give Your Lightning Experience and Salesforce1 Users the Power of Flows (Pilot)
We all know by now that Flow is an excellent tool for allowing your users to work through a script on the front end, while the back end gets to work with powerful data manipulation and branching logic under the hood. But until now you’ve been stuck with Flows that look like the Classic UI, which is a polite way of saying they look, erm, out-dated. And certainly they’d look pretty jarring when displayed in the Lightning UI. No longer!
Now, with this pilot scheme, you can include flows as components in Lightning pages, complete with that fresh, modern look and feel. Note that as this is a pilot feature for now, you’ll need to contact support or your account executive to try to get nominated for the pilot, but fingers crossed this much-needed features make it to Generally Available soon!
Create a Calendar from Anything in Salesforce
If you had to state the primary purpose of the Lightning Experience, you’d probably go with something like this: Lightning is all about making your work and your data look more beautiful and presenting it more elegantly. Where that data includes important dates, this new feature allows you to visualise it beautifully and elegantly on a calendar, to help you plan ahead and manage bottlenecks or quiet periods.
If you’re wondering how you could make use of this, here are some examples to think about: opportunity close dates, task due dates, campaign start dates, or even something custom like lead follow up dates. All of these dates could benefit from being displayed in a calendar interface, and now we can.
Export Reports as Files from Lightning Experience
Now admittedly this one isn’t as exciting as the previous three. But it’s a critical addition that helps to bring Lightning up to feature parity on some of the core platform capabilities we got very used to with Classic.
Yes, you can now export your report data as XLS or CSV files from Lightning Experience reports, just look the good old days!
Shortcuts for Currency and Number Fields in Lightning Experience
And continuing the theme that sometimes it’s the little things that make you happiest…
Lightning now supports those handy text shortcuts when entering currency and number values. About to close out yet another one-million dollar deal? Why bother typing all those zeroes in manually, just type ‘1m’ – Lightning will now understand exactly what you mean and save the figure accordingly.
But of course it’s not all about Lightning, and there are a good deal of features that address the core platform as a whole. And here are Mike’s favourite five core updates from Summer ’16…
Salesforce remains ‘True to the Core’
Associate a Contact with Multiple Accounts
Yep, we now have the ability to associate contacts to multiple accounts without having to resort to creating duplicates contacts or having the related contacts appear on a separate, less customisable related list.
If you’re wondering how best to model a many-to-many Account-Contact relationship in Salesforce, you need to check this out first as it could solve that very nicely. This feature also brings the added benefit that a single related list that can show all the contacts related to a particular account, both direct and indirect.
Save Time by Cloning Sandboxes
I definitely celebrated this one when I read the pre-release notes! I also have lost count over the years just how many consultants have said to me “Wouldn’t it be useful if we could refresh a particular sandbox from another dev sandbox?”.
It makes perfect sense and also now seems like great timing from Salesforce considering the increased allocation of sandboxes with the new Lightning Editions. Even those using Professional Edition are now graced with sandboxes – you can almost hear those orgs setting off their own fireworks!
Processes Can Execute Actions on More Than One Criteria
This enhancement means you now have ability for your process to continue executing onto the next criteria even if the previous criteria was met and some actions have already been already run.
We know that processes are great and offer a ton more flexibility than workflow, but they do share one potential admin nightmare with workflow rules – the number of them can creep up quicker than you think. Before you know it, you have many many workflows/processes to manage.
With this new feature at least now you can look to logically group processes into sub-criteria within single process, knowing that all can be run without being mutually exclusive. You may not want to go as far as to say ‘one process per object’ like you would with Apex triggers, but at least you have the ability group similar things together for any given object which should make your admin a lot easier.
Salesforce1: Quickly See If Related Lists Include Records
Those people who have dived into Salesforce1 and are running their business from their phone will appreciate this one a lot!
Yes there are workarounds for this, but let’s not forget that real estate on the mobile is very valuable and if there is something which is out of the box providing this functionality then it’s one less workaround you need. So this could be one more good reason to start using Salesforce1, if you need another!
Eliminate Picklist Clutter with Restricted Picklists (Generally Available)
People new to the platform are often horrified when they realise that picklists will accept any value passed in via the API; for example a very common way for incorrect values to get in is via something like data loading.
It’s fair to say that this is one of main culprits responsible for data nasties in Salesforce reporting. Incorrect picklist values can easily skew numbers, ruin your user experience or, even worse, mean that certain business processes do not function or run as expected. With this feature you have the ability to enforce validation for picklists whatever the point of entry – and it’s now generally available to all. Hoorah!
So there you have it, our top ten features to look out for in Summer ’16. And remember, you can read the full details on these features and browse all the new updates on the HTML release notes. Just remember that, for now, these are the preview release notes and some features may get added, change, or even drop out. But from what we know already, we can be sure that Salesforce’s 50th release is going to bring us a lot worth celebrating.