Here we are once more at one of our favourite times of the year – release time – as we usher in 2017 with the next release of Salesforce, which is looking to be one of our favourites. This release, we were honoured to deliver not one but two release readiness webinars for Salesforce, and as is traditional in this post we will drill deeper into what Spring ‘17 has in store with our top ten new features.
With each release Salesforce continue to fill in the gaps between the Lightning and Classic experiences, with Spring continuing that welcome trend. What is different this time is that we are graced with some new productivity-boosting features for which Salesforce’s timing seems almost too perfect as the start of the year tends to be littered with blogs on how to be more productive.
#1 Create Shortcuts to Your Top Salesforce Pages with Favorites
First up, something I have been secretly pining for since I started working with Salesforce; those who personally know me will understand why I say this. All that really matters now is it’s finally here now. You can now create favourites for up to 200 of the following items:
- Record home for standard and custom objects (including Visualforce overrides of these record views)
- Chatter groups
And then you simply access these shortcuts like any other favorite from within the Salesforce UI, a lot like favorites in your browser. We can see the roadmap for this new feature expanding out over the coming releases…
We can just hear the Classic users’ jealousy over this one… Well, you know what to do!
#2 Pick an Object and Search It from Anywhere
Sometimes the subtlest of changes can add the most, and this one nicely enhances the already great instant search results. As soon as you start typing, suggested results are presented – but now add to this the ability to quickly limit the search results to a particular object, say Accounts. Salesforce say this will save a ton of clicks and we believe them!
There are also a bunch of other search tweaks in this release too, such as more objects now being included in instant results, for example Events to name just one: https://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/spring17/release-notes/rn_lex_feature_list_search.htm
#3 Save Time by Editing Inline in List Views (Generally Available)
We all know how sometimes you simply need to update a single field across multiple records in one hit and the best way to perform this task is inline via a list view. This one has been missing from Lightning up until now, so we expect this to strike a chord with the masses and should not need too much explaining. So we’ll leave it at this: hooray!
We picked this one due to our own experience of finding out the previously glaring omission in Lightning. Viewing dashboards as specific users or the currently logged-in user is a crucial part of any dashboard design and setup. As with the Classic Experience, you now get the same abilities plus one new one:
- Run as a specific user – dashboard readers see data in the dashboard according to the data access level of whomever you specify.
- Run as the logged-in user – dashboard readers see data as themselves, according to their own access to data.
- Run as me – dashboard readers see data in the dashboard according to your (that is you, the admin configuring the dashboard) access to data.
While testing this one out, we did discover that if you have an existing dashboard which you created in Classic using ‘Run as the logged-in user’ then this dashboard will respect this setting when viewed in Lightning Experience – so one less thing for you to set up.
#5 Sales Path becomes Path and Path for Quotes and Custom Objects
We are glad that the Sales Path has taken a different path and lost the Sales from the name to become just Path. This highlights the increased capabilities of Path which now allows you to implement paths not only for Opportunities and Leads, but also Quotes and, yes, custom objects. If you are tracking something like User Stories in Salesforce you’d be silly not to implement Path here to help guide your users through the life cycle of a user story.
#6 Kanban: Expanded Availability and More Settings
Kanban, like Path, was begging to be expanded to more than just sales use cases. We got teased about this one during our MVP conference in Chicago last year, and we’re extremely glad it looks to have made the cut for this release. Once you start to work with Kanban views it’s difficult to go back, and even more so now with the ability to apply this to custom objects. Take our previous example for Path with User Stories and now apply Kanban to it, you will really start to appreciate how great this feature is!
So there you have it, almost anything can now be toggled into a Kanban view which is cool, but not as much as letting users do this on the fly which we think is even cooler.
So those were some of the features new to Lightning Experience. But we don’t want to leave you Classic users too far behind, so now for some features which work with Classic too.
Let’s start with Lightning Sync which, apart from the name, has nothing to do with Lightning Experience. This was formerly called Exchange Sync but, like so much else, had a name makeover last release. I can say from first-hand project experience that in my eyes this is the fastest and most frictionless way to integrate Outlook with Salesforce. At the heart of Lightning Sync is this: there is no software required for syncing Outlook with Salesforce as it’s all configured centrally. I would literally cringe when clients would ask me to configure Outlook syncing as the hassle of getting things setup properly was, well exactly that, hassle! Luckily things have moved on in this department. Winter ‘17 brought about the automatic linking of Contacts, Leads and Users for Events created in Outlook and synced with Salesforce and with Spring ‘17 this is extended with the ability to sync Event Attendees, the icing on the cake which rounds out the Lightning Sync feature nicely. So now when you create Calendar events in Outlook whether that’s on the go with your mobile, in Outlook on the desktop and even working in with Office 365 in the browser – you can be sure that it will reach Salesforce with all the relevant Event Attendees will be linked up and visible.
Lightning Sync is now being extended to support Gmail too (in beta), so there is really no excuse not integrate your email system with Salesforce.
#8 Flow sees some serious love
We can’t quite celebrate the death of the Flash interface for the flow designer just yet, but we can get excited by the many enhancements that can be use within the Classic experience. And, yes, we know we’re cheating a bit here by putting multiple features in one entry, but when you read about them you’ll see why we wanted to highlight them all!
Run Flows with a Lightning Skin (Beta)
First up, you can now run Flows with the Lightning skin, so regardless of whether you have made the transition to Lightning or not, you can give your flows a proper New Year makeover.
Display Flow Screens in Two Columns (Beta)
Continuing with the makeover, whilst skinny columns was so 2016, it looks like 2017 is all about getting fat again with a 2-column display. We were struggling to find the extra width to start with, but found it in the end… Check this guide out: https://developer.salesforce.com/docs/atlas.en-us.salesforce_vpm_guide.meta/salesforce_vpm_guide/vpm_url_set_layout.htm
An error without proper human-readable context is pretty much… <expletive deleted> …Well, I’m sure we don’t need to say it!
A lot more readable, I think you would agree, and you now have insight into the underlying DML operation (create, update…) too. Much more helpful.
Here is the full list of changes on the Flow side:
#9 Continue to Be Impressed with Contacts to Multiple Accounts
Person accounts was a bit of a curse but has been improving due to the need for organisations to track more closely one-to-one relationships. If you are using person accounts, you can now track in-direct relationships between person accounts and contacts.
However it’s not all person accounts… The account contact relationship object is getting opened up – in the shape of custom actions, buttons and links. There is a pretty extensive list of limitations which you should be aware of, but this should open up some clever things like invoking Lightning or Visualforce pages.
And we have saved the best for last here: if those limitations killed any funky ideas which you may have had – don’t fret as our favourite automation tool can step in to support you. The account contact relationship object is now available to be used with process builder which in turns opens up endless possibilities. One simple example could be sending an email when an indirect relationship is changed.
#10 Feel Confident About Your Lightning Experience Readiness (Note: not available during preview)
Technically this counts as Classic and is about gaining the confidence to switch over to Lightning, and what better way to find out just how close you really are by having an automatically generated report dropped in your inbox along with an offer to sign up and schedule a *free* 30 minute consultation – just how much more help do you actually need?
#Bonus Use Filters to Zero In on the Features that Matter Most
You may already have noticed that the release note filters have had some improvements recently. A common question in our regular Release Readiness webinar is how to filter by Classic features only. Using the online version you now have all the filters you need – Salesforce Classic, Lightning Experience & Mobile. Bonus, bonus, these also work with Winter ’17 release notes too!
Happy New Year to you all and let us know which ones are your favourites…