Wow – what a week (and a bit) Dreamforce was.

I’ve now finished up my first week back, mostly recovered, ready to try and describe what my first Dreamforce was like.

The Location

People who have been to the event before will tell you it is huge, yet it’s impossible to understand the immense scale of it until you’ve been in person. Taking up over 5 blocks of downtown San Francisco is the “Dreamforce National Park” which encompasses a number of conference centres and entertainment spaces to fit the 150,000 plus attendees.

Dreamforce National Park

Amongst the conference halls the area is kitted out with DJ’s, lunch areas, merchandise stalls and lots of Trailhead characters to get your photo taken with. Need WIFI? The Dreamforce SSID was available EVERYWHERE. I had lunch in the middle of the park (an actual city park, see below) and still had access to blazing fast Dreamforce WIFI.

The park – kick back, eat lunch and listen to DJ’s while working out which session you’re going to next

The Technology

It was a big year for new product announcements as well as re-announcements of products from Dreamforce’s past (just so you know they’re real). 

Here are some of the announcements that caught my eye.

Evergreen Serverless Functions

As a tech guy, this announcement hyped me up the most. Evergreen is a Function-as-a-service allowing developers to write business logic using Node.JS, Java or Apex. Think of it kind of like AWS Lambda but running on some magic developed by the Heroku team.

The functions are created and deployed just like any other kind of metadata (like an Apex class) and can be called on by Salesforce using point & click configuration or code.

Everyone loves containers!

The fact that it supports other languages and frameworks means you can leverage that language’s packages and ecosystems to deliver the business logic you need. Need to generate or edit a PDF? Use Conga – but if that isn’t an option, write an Evergreen function that imports PDFKit from npm. Want to get around some of the callout limitations of Apex? Write an Evergreen function, import axios from npm and callout to your heart’s content.

The other cool thing about this is engaging with talent who are already dedicated Node.js or Java developers to innovate on the platform together. I had the opportunity to speak with the team behind Evergreen after one of their sessions and Node.JS and Java are just the beginning – expect more languages to be supported in future releases.

Lightning App Builder Enhancements

There’s some cool changes coming to Lightning App Builder that starts to merge it’s functionality with the classic Page Layout editor (and then some). 

You’ll soon be able to control the layout of record detail pages down to the field level (not just the component level). Additionally you can now show or hide certain fields using the app builders visibility options. This can lead to some really powerful workflows such as using values from one (or more) fields to determine if other fields should also be shown or hidden

Stuff our Functional Consultants drool over

Sandbox Enhancements

Salesforce are slowly but surely making the job of creating/refreshing sandboxes easier for our consultants and customers. Lightning Sandboxes are a new type of sandbox that promise instant cloning with the ability to take snapshots that you can use to spin up additional sandboxes.

 I see this feature as a happy medium between using scratch orgs and traditional sandboxes. You get the benefit of instant activation without having to manage definition files and pushing your changes with each refresh.

Another Sandbox announcement was the introduction of Data Masking. This is an awesome new feature that helps protect your customer data when creating/refreshing your full or partial sandboxes. You can create configurations that let you decide what data should be masked and how it should be masked.

Let’s use a Contact record as an example. You can create a configuration to delete data from certain fields, anonymize data (Mark Benioff becomes go3ugm asfgu44) or pseudo-anonymize (Mark Benioff becomes Steve Marks).This is really powerful, especially when you are exposing your full sandboxes to your partners.

The Sessions & Keynotes

We watched the opening keynote via live stream at the APAC on Tour lounge, which is a drop-in location close to the Moscone conference centre specifically setup for APAC attendees. 

The opening keynote is a good way to understand the areas Salesforce has focused on during the year but is very high level, so choose your points of interest and go to one of the breakout sessions afterwards to learn the details. Mark handled the interruption by protesters very well, offering them 30 seconds to get their point across in exchange for them leaving afterwards. It would appear the evidence of this has been removed from the live streams.

Unfortunately we missed the opportunity to see Barack Obama give his keynote as the session was full, including the streaming locations and the keynote was not live streamed. We lined up to see Eddie Vedder talk 3 hours before the event and still could not get in. The lesson here is to enrol in the sessions you want to see the moment the full agenda is published. Don’t leave it until a few weeks or days before the event.

The line for the registration desk on the second last day

The “True to the Core” session is one to catch which is now an annual event at each Dreamforce. Salesforce co-founder and CTO Parker Harris, flanked by a bunch of product leads, try to provide some transparency into their development process and the reasons why they made certain decisions about the direction of their products. In the latter half they open it up to questions from the audience which quickly spirals into some very frank questions being posed to the team – with comedic results.

Wushi, SteveMo says hi!

My favourite non-Salesforce related session occurred on our last evening in the APAC on Tour lounge. Daniel Flynn from Thankyou gave an inspiring talk about the challenges his business faced trying to get the not-for-profit off the ground in a segment dominated by for-profit companies. Thankyou sell a “pay what you want” book about their story (with a twist on how books are published) which is worth checking out.

If you’re interested in viewing all the major Salesforce sessions/keynotes, our Conga crazy consultant Daryl Moon has collated this list for you.

The Dreamfest

Every year Dreamforce puts on a huge party that includes bringing in some well known musical acts. Last year it was Metallica (bummed I missed that one!) and this year we saw Beck supporting Fleetwood Mac, joined by Neil Finn stepping in to replace Lindsay Buckingham. 

Fleetwood Mac rocking the house

Fleetwood Mac was a bit before my time so I wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy it, however once they started playing I knew most of the songs and they were amazing. They blew away my expectations and even sneaked in some Crowded House tunes. Couple that with great company, a rocking Oracle Park baseball stadium (with the Oracle signage well hidden hehe) and a fair bit of booze it turned out to be a fantastic night.

The Before & After Dreamforce Fun

James dwarfed by a Redwood.

You have to take advantage of being on the other side of the world while you’re here. Some of us did a pre-Dreamforce weekend down in Santa Cruz (75 miles from San Francisco) traveling there in the type of SUV you can only find in the US.

That’s a big rig

In Santa Cruz we explored some of the Redwood forests, had a day out on the boardwalk riding their thrill rides (Giant Dipper and Fireball were a favourite) and hired some electronic JUMP bikes to explore the surf coast.

Hows the shorts!

Our CEO Ian Goodwin chose to wind down from Dreamforce by riding through the Nevada desert.

Keen!

Conclusion

Now that I’m no longer a Dreamforce virgin I can attest that the hype is real. The world’s largest technology conference is an immersive experience that combines technology, learning and inspiration in an environment that feels like a party every day. The Cludo team had a ball – with our customers, our partners, Salesforce and each other – and you can be sure that we’ll have another delegation back again next year!

James Keaney, Director of Solution Architecture 

Salesforce will upgrade their platform on June 11 to the Summer ’17 release.  Last week I covered some of the new features that I am looking forward to.  This week I have a few new features that I think will make Salesforce Administrators lives easier.

Package Path:  Now you can migrate the Path metadata between environments.  Admins who have implemented Path will be thankful for the amount of time it will save them copying and pasting text and re-selecting the key fields.

Flow Lightning App component: add your visual flows to Lightning Record Pages. This feature is generally available now.  This is the best thing since sliced bread if you are a flow guru.

Launch Flows in Lightning runtime from buttons, links and custom tabs:  Visual flows are now executable in the Lightning Experience.  This now works within the new environment so no more blank screens and empty windows.

Flow redirect: use a retURL parameter to control where your flow returns when executed from the Lightning runtime.

Dynamic flow screen fields: This pilot allows you to select which fields on the UI of a visual Flow display based on user input.

New Setup look and feel: the Setup has been given another lick of paint.  The Setup resembles the Console allowing for multiple tabs for each of the setup options.

Migrate Communities:  You can now move communities between orgs.  This will make administrators lives much simpler when creating or updating a community portal.

James Keaney | Director of Solution Architecture 

Summer ’17 is coming June 11 (in Australia) so it is time for me to give you a quick run through of my favourite features that caught my attention as I ‘digested’ the release notes.

I encourage you to peruse through these items and see what catches your attention.  If you are a Salesforce user already, please send me a message if you would like to discuss these features and how they might be turned on for you.

Upgrade Times:
AP4: June 11th 3am EAST
AP1: June 11th 3am EAST
AP2: June 11th 4am EAST
AP5: June 11th 5am EAST
AP3: June 11th 5am EAST
AP0: June 11th 5am EAST

Lightning focus: Salesforce have updated the Lightning experience migration assistant to help customers check their readiness for the migration as well as trying to prove out the value of the new interface.  If you want to migrate to Lightning, this assistant will help inform you.  I would also recommend talking to an expert who will give it to you straight.

Lightning off: You can now make the Lightning Experience the only interface for your users.  No more classic.  If you’re game.

Keyboard shortcuts: Users can now interact with records using their keyboard. I recommend issuing out some communications after Summer 17 goes live to your users to instruct them on the useful shortcuts.

To view the available keyboard shortcuts, press:
Windows: Ctrl+/
macOS: Cmd+/

Lightning Console Apps: The beta Lightning Console is now generally available. If your users prefer to have access to multiple records at a time, then this is feature that you can easily turn on and make available for your users. (Think Service Console for Lightning.)

Field History in Lightning: This is one of those features that was missing from the get go that made little sense to the average admin punter. Now you can add the related list to your Lightning pages that shows you the Field History on your records.

Lead Account Matching: Account matching when converting Leads is being improved so that it is in line with how it works in Classic. You will be able to have multiple matches and even match against person accounts.

New Contact Record: Now when you create a Contact from an Account record you will inherit the phone numbers and address from the Account.

Lightning Dialer: Lightning Voice has been renamed Lightning Dialer. This is the integrated way to make calls from Salesforce through your telephony system. The dialer now supports a call list so users can add records to the call list that the dialer will queue up automatically.

Classic Email Templates in Lightning: Classic templates can now be accessed from the Lightning Send Email Activity. This is good.

Lightning Email Composer: Compose messages in a new pop out editor that allows you to edit the email whilst continuing to use Salesforce. Your email signature will now be added into the editor so you can see the whole message as your recipient will receive it.

Kanban by Owner: Group the Kanban view by owner. This is a good way to view the workload of your teams and allows your to change the owner with a simple drag and drop.

Duplicate checking between Contacts and Leads: check for duplicates with the new standard rules that check for the same record that may exist already as a Lead or Contact.

Surface Duplicates across objects: create duplicate rules that check for duplicate records between two objects.

Dashboard filters: Add filters to your dashboards from Lightning Experience.

Combination Charts: plot two sets of data on the one chart within a Dashboard. Nice one!

Create Report and Dashboard folders in Lightning Experience: Another one of those “I can’t believe I have to go back to Classic for this…”

Customise the Files Details Page: create custom fields, pages, buttons for files. This takes files to the next level and becomes a viable option as a light document management system in Salesforce.

Drag and Drop Files: drag files onto a record to quickly upload it to Salesforce.

Validation Rules on Files: collect quality information on your files when your users upload them to records. A new two step upload process will ensure users follow a naming convention or set the appropriate field for a file.

The new Spring ’17 update of Salesforce brings a suite of features to the Sales Cloud platform.  Here I break down the new features and updates that I am keen to share and excited to use.

Collaborative Forecasts

Now here is a feature that i thought was on the chopping block, but here we are and it has got a fresh coat of paint and is now Lightning ready. I am sure this will make some Sales Cloud Lightning Experience users very happy or enable them to make the switch.

Sales Path becomes Path

The Sales Path feature that was previously only available in Leads and Opportunities is now a global feature. Salesforce have renamed the feature to just Path and expanded its use to Quotes and to Custom objects.

This is a fantastic feature for providing stage based documentation and context for users. This will become a part of every Lightning Experience implementation (I believe).

Quote Updates in Lightning

Quotes was tacked onto Lightning in the last release which was good for exposing the functionality that still needed to be driven from Salesforce Classic. Spring ‘17 finishes the job and Quotes (and Products) are now full featured in Lightning.

There is a new window for easily adding products, quantities as well as a new system for emailing out your quote PDFs directly from Salesforce.

(Oh and Quotes also gets List View Kanban and the ability to set up Path.)

Contracts and Orders

These objects were severely hampered. I have had to build custom versions of both for customers just because they did not have all the object features available for customer specific customizations.

Now you can use Custom Actions. Doesn’t sound like much, but this will start making these objects useful and a viable option for customers to use.

Opportunity Products in Lightning Experience

Like mentioned in the Quote Updates, Products for Opportunities gets the new Product selector window that makes this a feature now Lightning ready.

List Views in Lightning Experience Default to the Last One Viewed

Every time I have rolled out Lightning for a customer the user feedback has always been that the Recently Viewed list view is not helpful to be defaulted to for every object.

This will be a small but impactful change for users.

Kanban

This is now a game changer. Another feature that was tested on Leads and Opportunities is now available for all objects and custom objects (not for Knowledge or Tasks though.)

Kanban can be customised with the stages that are shown at the top, what is summarised in each column and the fields that are on the list view. This is now customisable by the end user as well, so they can set their list views up with Kanban how they like.

Can’t wait for this one!

Tasks become Lightning

Tasks are getting an update which makes them more inline with what we were used to in Classic: follow up tasks, recurring tasks, save and new tasks and tasks (and events) are now searchable.


Thanks again for reading. James Keaney.

james dot keaney at cludo dot com dot au

Alright! Time to start adding some content to this blog….

I am going to take the time and effort in writing posts relating to the thrice yearly Salesforce upgrades.  As a Salesforce nerd, the upgrades and release notes are something that I love to review and analyse for all the juicy new stuff that I can implement for Cludo and Cludo’s customers.

I will keep these short and on point.  The release notes are a lengthy read, so I will break these down and post once or twice a week leading up to the production release.

Lightning is ready!

Not everyone is on the new Lightning Interface, this goes mainly for customers who have been using Salesforce for a while now.  Since it was released in 2015, Lightning has been through pilot phase, beta phase and now it is GA (in my own view) with Spring ’17.

Here are 3 things from the Lightning Experience Features in this release, Spring ’17, that I wanted to share.

Lightning Console Apps

This is one of the most exciting features to come to the lightning experience.  For Sales and Service users, the multitab experience that the Service Console provided is now available in the Lightning Experience.  Two new apps now come standard with Spring ‘17: Sales and Service.

The reason that this is such a good addition is that it will enable faster navigation between records and related records in the system.  For users who work out of Salesforce for many of their day to day functions, this will provide a massive efficiency boost.

 

Utility Bar in Lightning Experience

The Utility bar has been available in Lightning apps for a little while now only via the API though.  Now the utility bar has a suite of standard components that can be added to a Lightning App.  Think of this as the Lightning version of the footer in the Salesforce Classic Console app.

I am excited about:

  • being able to place chatter in an always accessible place for users to collaborate
  • being able to have instant access to any list for any object
  • being able to trigger a visual flow (i love flows)
  • history will be a useful widget for quickly navigating around the system
  • having a new standard mechanism for integrating softphones for sales and service apps
  • seeing what other custom utilities can be developed by the clever people in the Salesforce ecosystem

Global Actions Menu

For users who have been on Lightning Experience for a while now you might of thought that the Global Actions Menu ( + symbol up the top) was quite limited.  Well now Salesforce has set this up so that you can put almost everything in there.  This will be valuable for quick creation of any object in the system or to trigger a lightning component.  This will start being a feature that is used more and more.

I am going to try to keep these posts as brief as possible to try and target information worth sharing.  Until next time when I talk about some of the new Sales Cloud features.  (And they are awesome!)

Thanks again: James Keaney | (james dot keaney at cludo dot com dot au)