platform tools

  • Best of 2018: The year that was at cirrus.red

    2018 has been a very interesting year in the Salesforce ecosystem. And we will no doubt continue to feel the influence for a few more years, from some of the acquisitions made this year, the biggest of which was Mulesoft. So to close out 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was, and the best of 2018 here at cirrus.red.

    A quick thank you

    This year, cirrus.red has had over 22,000 views. So firstly, thanks to everyone who has visited. Some of you may have noticed the last couple of months has been a little quiet at cirrus.red, as I have been extremely busy with a huge project (moving an organisation to a new Lightning Salesforce org) and at the same time planning for move back to Australia. But 2019 will be bigger and better!

    So as 2018 draws to a close, I thought it was interesting to look back and review 2018 and list out the top 4 posts from 2018 (based on # of views).

    Best of 2018: Top 4 posts from cirrus.red

    The #1 Post of 2018: Secrets of Spring ’18

    Spring ’18 brought out a few hidden formulas, which turns out were extremely useful and had been asked for from the community for a number of years.

    Now the documentation for Spring ’18 release has been updated, so these are not-so-much-hidden now, but it was the #1 post of 2018 on the site.

    The #2 Post of 2018: GDPR in Spring ’18

    Spring ’18 was also a big release if you were concerned about GDPR. And given the fever-pitched media frenzy that was happening in Feb/March, there was a lot of questions being asked.

    Ultimately GDPR was an alignment of privacy standards across the EU-zone. And Salesforce, like many platform providers, included tools to help companies prepare for the changes which came into effect in May ’18.

    The #3 Post of 2018: Passing the Platform App & Platform Developer I

    Next up, was my guide to passing the Platform App Builder and the Platform Developer I exams. I had decided to study and sit both exams on the same day (not recommended), and shared some of the materials and learning from the two courses to help others who decided they may want to try and pass the exams.

    The #4 Post of 2018: What’s the difference between Process Builder and Workflows

    And finally, the 4th most viewed post from 2018 was a quick guide looking at the differences between Workflow and Process Builder.

    Wrap up

    So no doubt 2019 will be even bigger than this year, and I will try to do a 2019 predictions article shortly!

    And finally, I hope you have had a great holidays so far, and have a happy new year!

  • Summer ’18 Release: Top Sales & Service Cloud Features

    Time marches on and 2018 continues hurtling towards summer (or winter for the southern half of the planet).  But it is that time of year again where we get to investigate and plan for the Summer ’18 release from Salesforce, which is due to be released to most orgs within the next month.

    Additionally, we see Lightning continue to be the primary focus for Salesforce with a number of key new features, as predicted, being included as part of this release.

    Release Notes – New breakdown

    Firstly, you may notice a subtle but helpful new format of the Release Notes.

    New sub-headings in the Summer '18 Release Notes
    New sub-headings in the Summer ’18 Release Notes

    Most features and changes included in the release notes, now appear to be broken down into easier to digest sub-headings covering the all important: Where/Why/How/When/etc.

    It is a subtle but useful change, given the volume of information in the 478 page document!

    Summer ’18 Release: Features Breakdown

    As with any Salesforce release nowadays, there are thousands of new features, and narrowing them down to a is getting harder and harder!  But let’s dive on in, and take a look at the Top Sales & Service Cloud Features.

    1) Lightning Console – To feature parity and beyond…

    With Summer ’18 Release, we see Lightning Console pretty close to matching Classic Console, with some additional new features added in for good measure.

    Now I know I am cheating in the top 10, as I am going to group a couple of features together in this one… But it will be worth it 🙂

    For the console changes, click here.

    Console specific features in the release include:

    Guided Engagement with Flow

    But the pièce de résistance though is the new Guided Engagement Console feature.  Allowing you to combine the power of Console and Flows, to give your users guided forms/scripts to work from:

    Summer '18 Release: Lightning Guided Engagement
    Lightning Guided Engagement

     

    2) Reports & Dashboards

    Summer ’18 Release from Salesforce includes a bonanza of features and updates for all things Reports & Dashboards… So again, I am grouping a few distinct features under one topic here – otherwise my top 10 would just be reports and dashboards!!

    For all Report & Dashboard features, click here.

    Lightning Report Builder

    First up, Summer ’18 Release sees Lightning Report Builder come out of beta, and become Generally Available.  With a few extra tweaks since Spring ’18 also added in!

    Summer '18 Release: Lightning Report Builder

    One thing to note: the user permissions have changed due to the feature becoming ‘generally available’, and this now allows you to hide Classic Report Builder from users, if you wish to…

    Lightning Joined Reports (Beta)

    Additionally, we see Joined Reports enter public beta within Lightning!  There are a few limitations listed in the release notes, but the biggest appears to be having to use the Salesforce Classic Report Builder

    Summer 18 Release: Joined Reports now available in beta
    Joined Reports (beta)

    Get organised: Folders and sub-folders

    I have to admit, this one makes my inner Salesforce geek very happy!  And I wrote about it in the predictions post back in January… As soon as I heard it was on the roadmap for this year, I have been eagerly awaiting this feature!!!

    Sub-Folders, within Folders!  OMG! 😀 😀 It is Lightning Experience only – but this has been a pain in the backside of many Admins, since even before I started working with Salesforce!

    Summer '18 Release: Report Sub-Folders
    Report Sub-Folders

     

    Export reports & keep your formatting

    Lightning Experience now allows you to export your report and keep the formatting of the report.  Simple…

    Filter History Reports by Old and New Values

    In Classic, another bug-bear of mine (and many others) was the fact you could not filter a History Report by the old or new field values…  It would only display them in the report or the history related list if the field was tracked.

    This ended up with a lot of reports being exported and then working with the data in Excel… GRRR

    But GRRR no more! With the ability to now filter by these values!

    Salesforce Summer '18 Release: Filter by Old or New Values on History Reports

    Thank you Salesforce!

     

    3) Lightning Experience improvements

    Another area with a number of smaller feature improvements, Lightning Experience continues to get refined with each release.

    Click here for all of them…  Otherwise, read on!

    Speed up your search

    Summer ’18 Release will allow your users to search by specific objects, from the global search bar…

    Summer '18 Release: Search by specific object

    Boom!

    Dependant picklists and Path

    Path is an amazing feature, allowing you to guide users through almost any process just based on a single picklist.  But with Summer ’18 release, any dependant picklists will now also prompt users when they move steps.

    Summer '18 Release: Update dependant picklists

     

    Group by Topics

    Topics are now available in Lightning Experience!

    Many users used Topics in Classic, and it is great to seem them ported over to Lightning Experience now.

    If you haven’t used them before, it allows your end-users to group and organise records, by a topic.  Imagine it like a #tag on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/etc, allowing you to then search for the topic and get all related records.

    Salesforce Summer '18: Topics now in Lightning

    4) Privacy (Support for GDPR)

    With the upcoming GDPR changes, Salesforce has continued to add in features to assist businesses (and us Admins) to get ready.

    Changes to Individual object

    The Individual object was a little limited when it was first released in Spring ’18.  The object wasn’t like a standard object, meaning access was very limited.  And creation of records/etc Apex coding was required…

    But no more!  In Summer ’18 the object is now a standard object with all the bells and whistles that comes with that – including the ability to now use workflows/process builder!

    You will be able to now:

    • Create custom actions, buttons, and links for Individuals
    • Create different Individual record types
    • Undelete an Individual that you had deleted
    • Use Individuals with workflows or with Process Builder

    Make a Users’ personal data unusable

    As part of the new privacy regulations, and the ability to request your personal information is removed from a system, presents a bit of a challenge for anyone who has a user record within Salesforce.  These could be community users or internal users…. And is due to the fact you cannot delete a Salesforce user record, ever.

    So to get around this, Salesforce is now including a new system method ‘obfuscateUser()’ , which will scramble user information.

    This one definitely falls into the ‘advanced’ category, as it requires Apex knowledge (or how to invoke Apex via Process Builder/Flow).

    And would require planning and testing, as Salesforce is warning: that it cannot be reversed!

    Scramble user data before and after

     

    Summer ’18 Release: Key Dates

    There are a number of key dates you need to know for Summer ’18 Release.  So to help highlight what they are, here is a handy infographic from Salesforce.   Remember the dates shown below are in US date format though…

    Summer 18 release - key dates

    What is the release date for Summer ’18 Release?

    The release weekend for your org will depend on the instance it is on, but the release will occur on the weekend between the 18th May – 8th June 2018.

    Summer ’18 Release: Additional Resources

    Official Salesforce resources

    Other blog resources

  • Passing the Platform App Builder & Platform Developer I Exams

    Sometimes overconfidence catches up to you when you least expect it.  That is probably really obvious.  But for me recently it was about two months ago, when I sat both the Platform App Builder Transition exam and the Platform Developer I exam.  When I went into the exam centre here in London, sat down and clicked the ‘Begin Exam’ button, only to find I was woefully unprepared for the exams…

    The result of that day, two exams failed.  But the story doesn’t end there.

    So I am going to share some of my personal Salesforce experiences leading up to this point and more importantly my lessons learned and resources which helped me ultimately pass both exams.

    Journey To Certified Technical Architect

    Stepping back in time for a moment, I passed my first exams back in 2012.  And I do say exams, as in plural.

    In May 2012, I decided to sit both the Salesforce Admin (ADM-201) & Force.com Developer (DEV-401) exams on the same day.

    I decided to take the plunge after working with Salesforce for around a year and get certified.

    Passes for both the Certified Administrator & Force.com Developer exams...
    Passes for both the Certified Administrator & Force.com Developer exams…

     

    My objective was simple enough, and I wanted to get a recognised credential I could take with me when I moved to the UK.  I figured having a globally recognised certification would help the transition and ultimately help me find employment.

    My plane to Abu Dhabi on the way to London…

    It was a time of massive change (picking up and moving to the other side of the world).  But my main ambition was to set up in London and travel around Europe.  And if you know many Aussies in London, this is a little stereotypical 🙂

    But those first steps I took, have set me on a path I have never looked back on.

    And over the last year, I have been continued planning next steps and my future direction within the Salesforce community and ecosystem.

    With the launch of the new certifications from Salesforce in late 2016, I have decided (like a lot of people) to slowly start working towards the goal of becoming a Salesforce Certified Technical Architect.

    Patterns are easy to form

    With a couple of other certifications over the last 18 months (like the Advanced Admin & Sales Cloud Consultant) – I relied more on my personal experiences and knowledge of the platform, rather than directly studying for the exams.

    Platform App Builder & Platform Developer I are both on the pathway to Certified Technical Artchitect
    Platform App Builder & Platform Developer I certifications are both on the pathway to Certified Technical Architect

    Sure, I ended up referencing the study guides, but after running through some practice quizzes, I was relatively sure I wouldn’t need further study.  But with this, I started to build a pattern of not taking the exams seriously enough.  Taking for granted my hands-on experiences and knowledge over the years getting me across the line.

    And so, I found myself eagerly booking in my App Builder transition exam & the Platform Developer I exam…

    Overconfidence and failure

    Why was I so unprepared?  You can probably guess where we are heading with this next part!

    I made the first mistake of where I expected the Platform App Builder exam to be the easier of the two exams that day.  In my head I just assumed it was just like the Force.com Developer Exam (DEV-401), which it was replacing.

    The transition exam is only 20 questions, but there is new material which is covered by the exam (and rightly so!).  But with only 20 questions, and being over-confident blinded me to the fact I should have studied.

    Overconfidence can get you in trouble

    Secondly I had booked both exams on the same day…  Which isn’t generally a great idea in the first place.  As it doesn’t leave you time to deal with a negative result before moving straight onto the next exam.  The unexpected failure on the Platform App Builder transition knocked me for six (a cricket metaphor for those who don’t know what this means).

    And I knew going into the exams that the Platform Developer I exam was going to be the weaker of two…  But even still, I assumed by developer experience of the last year would be enough to get by.

    Leaving the exam centre that day, I took the result badly.  I was being very hard on myself and kicked myself for not taking the exams seriously enough.  How could I have just expected to coast by?  Did I not know Salesforce at all?

    With my anxiety, my mind was the harshest critic and it tore me to shreds…  But I vowed to make sure not to repeat the mistakes again.  And to do that I needed acknowledge what went wrong, and plan a way forward.

    Take Two: Adam Strikes Back

    So quietly I made preparations to re-sit both exams.

    After coming up with a study plan and finding a number of helpful resources (which are shared below).  I can proudly say I am back on track and have passed both exams.

    row of traffic lights, green lights illuminated (digital composite) - source: TelegraphI must be a glutton for punishment as I still re-booked both exams on the same day, but the exam centre isn’t that easy for me to get to, so I ensured I booked time slots which would give me some time in between if needed.

    And as a funny/side anecdote  – as I was driving to the test centre, I had a ‘green light’ run.  Where every traffic light was either green or turned green on my way…  That never happens in London!

    Salesforce Platform App Builder Platform App Builder: Where did I go wrong?

    Now this may come from my past experiences and working with Salesforce now for over 7 years (hence over-confidence) but some of the questions on the Platform App Builder exam are easy… I mean really easy.  And almost make you second guess the answer as it is so obvious you think it is a trick question.

    I second guessed my answer about sandboxes the first time round, and ended up over thinking it and picking the wrong option… **DOH**

    But the area that really sunk me the first time around, generally related to the setting up of External Objects.  As I haven’t used these features of Salesforce, I was guessing.  And after studying External Objects, I know I got these completely wrong in that fateful first go of the exam!

    Also understanding the system limitations re: changing field data types was important as I had a couple of questions on this topic.

    Platform App Builder: Study Resources

    • SalesforceBen is pretty much a one stop shop for most certification exams nowadays, and the Platform App Builder was no exception.
    • Trailhead has a Trailmix specifically aimed at this certification
    • Salesforce888 & SalesforceMike both have a breakdown of the Platform App Builder Transition Exam

    And the Quizlet also has a number of flashcards/practise exams, but I found some of them had incorrect answers… So not 100% useful if you don’t know the answers.  Personally I used this one (link broken), and they seemed correct.

    Salesforce Platform Developer IPlatform Developer I: Where did I go wrong?

    There were a couple of areas, but the biggest areas I found when I failed needed to work on were the test execution/design patterns.  As I have never used Test Factory Data design or stored test data in Static Resources. Instead I have generally included a test method in the code I have written… But this isn’t very efficient in the long run!

    I also forgot topics in the exam that I know.  As an example I forgot the Order of Execution during the exam… Does a validation rule fire after a workflow?  I went completely blank…  I put this down to sitting this exam directly after failing the Platform App Builder.

    There are also five ‘product related questions’ throughout the exam, which actually have no bearing on the end-result.  At the time I did my exam, these related to Heroku (and I assume I got these wrong).  And I remember getting most of these early in the exam and this combined with the early failure in the exam before left me mentally panicking and I was freaking out that I knew nothing!  It was like reading another language!

    Platform Developer I: Study Resources

    • Order of Execution is key knowledge which is tested multiple times in the exam.  The questions I got in the test related to workflows, validation rules and triggers specifically.  But there could be other questions testing your understanding of this, and how to avoid recursion.
    • Vandevelde Jan’s blog post about the Platform Developer I exam was one of the most comprehensive I found online.  I can’t recommend it highly enough for those studying for this exam.
    • As mentioned above, SalesforceBen is also a go-to resource for certification resources and unsurprisingly has a post dedicated to the Platform Developer I.
    • There are additional resources available in this Trailblazer Community post.
    • And finally there is also a Trailmix focused on the Platform Developer I certification

    If you have access to Premier Support, you also have this online course for the Platform Developer I available to you.  It is an extensive overview of the course and exam questions.

    Have you got any resources relating to these exams to share?

    Please feel free to add them in the comments section below.

  • Secrets of Spring ’18: Hidden Formulas

    Spring ’18 is now live for most orgs, but there appears to be some changes included in the release which haven’t been documented :-O The great news for us Admins, the changes actually resolve a number of ‘simple’ problems we have when trying to calculate values in formulas.  So in this quick update we look at some of the new ‘hidden formulas’ included with Spring ’18 and some of the use cases where you might be able to apply them…

    Update: 26/Feb  – Eagle-eyed Ekaterina has pointed out in the comments, there are even more additional formulas available!  Here is a link to her blog if you want to read more…

    Update: 01/Mar – Salesforce have now scheduled an update to the Known Issue and scheduled an update via the Spring ’18 Patch 11.0.  To see what’s included, click here.

    Hidden Formulas: ADDMONTHS

    The first of the hidden formulas included in Spring ’18 is the new AddMonths function.

    Imagine you need a formula to calculate a date, which based off another date entered on a record.  For example, you could see this in action in Contract End Date (contract start date + 2mth duration = contract end date).

    The formula to add 2 months, while only using point and click Admin features, is quite little long winded (if you want to accurately account for Leap Years):

    IF(
      MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) = 2,
      IF(
        DAY( date ) > 28,
        DATE( YEAR( date ) + FLOOR( ( MONTH( date ) + 2 ) / 12 ), 3, 1 ),
        DATE( YEAR( date ) + FLOOR( ( MONTH( date ) + 2 ) / 12 ), 2, DAY( date ) )
      ),
      IF(
        OR(
          MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) = 4,
          MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) = 6,
          MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) = 9,
          MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) = 11
        ),
        IF(
          DAY( date ) > 30,
          DATE( YEAR( date ) + FLOOR( ( MONTH(  date  ) + 2 ) / 12 ),
           MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) + 1, 1 ),
          DATE( YEAR( date ) + FLOOR( ( MONTH( date ) + 2 ) / 12 ),
           MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12), DAY( date ) )
        ),
        IF(
          MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12 ) = 0,
          DATE( YEAR( date ) + FLOOR( ( MONTH( date ) + 2 ) / 12 ) - 1, 12, DAY( date ) ),
          DATE( YEAR( date ) + FLOOR( ( MONTH( date ) + 2 ) / 12 ),
           MOD( MONTH( date ) + 2, 12), DAY( date ) )
        )
      )
    )

    GULP!!

    But, now you will be able to use the AddMonths formula…

    So you want to add 2 months, to a field containing the start date of the contract, it is now as simple as:

    addMonths(date, 2)

    To see more details, until the official documentation is available, visit Ekaterina’s post here.

    Hidden Formulas: WEEKDAY

    Salesforce WEEKDAY formula
    Salesforce WEEKDAY formula

    Also in Spring ’18, and a little more obscure, is the new WeekDay function.

    It allows you to return a number (from 1-7) which indicates the day of the week, based on a date field within Salesforce.

    Before, once again, you could retrieve this information – but it was again a bit cumbersome:

    CASE(
      MOD( DATEVALUE(CreatedDate) - DATE(1900, 1, 7), 7), 
         0, "Sunday", 
         1, "Monday",  
         2, "Tuesday", 
         3, "Wednesday", 
         4, "Thursday", 
         5, "Friday", 
         6, "Saturday",
         "Error"
    )

    But now – simply use:

    WeekDay(date)

    And it will return for you, a number which represents the day of the week:

    1 = Sunday
    2 = Monday
    3 = Tuesday
    4 = Wednesday
    5 = Thursday
    6 = Friday
    7 = Saturday

    Hidden Formulas: CURRENCYRATE

     

    Salesforce CURRENCYRATE formula
    Salesforce CURRENCYRATE formula

    The next hidden formula in Spring ’18, is CURRENCYRATE.

     

    This formula will return the conversion rate used for a record’s currency code.

    So for example, if you have the default currency as USD.  But the record’s currency is GBP – you can now retrieve what the conversion rate is between those currencies.  And then display it as a formula field or use it in reports.

    CURRENCYRATE(IsoCode)

    As a possibly obvious tip, Currency Management will need to be activate in your org before you can use this…

    The returned value will be a number showing the currency conversion rate, eg 0.717412 (but you will be able to control how many decimals are shown).

    Hidden Formulas: MFLOOR & MCEILING

    Salesforce MCEILING formula
    Salesforce MCEILING formula

    These two final formula functions go hand in hand.  And now also available in Spring ’18!!

    Previously, we did have access to ROUND function:

    Round(decimalNumber, 2)

    Where you could round a decimal number to the number of decimals you specified in the formula.  But you couldn’t force Salesforce to round up or down… Until now!

    MCEILING will round a number up to the nearest positive whole number.  Whereas the MFLOOR will round down to the nearest positive whole number.

    Both functions will return 0, if the input number is a negative.

    So for example, if you have a number field which contains decimals but you want to round up or down, you can control this with these functions.

    To round up, to nearest whole number:

    MCEILING(number)

    To round down, to nearest whole number:

    MFLOOR(number)

     

    Found any others?

    No doubt Salesforce will be updating all relevant documentation and the Help site soon.  But if you have found any others, add them to the comments below!

  • The week in review (Einstein Platform, SF ‘CRM’ stock to double? & Oracle/Salesforce agree!)

    There is a big focus this week in Salesforce Briefs on AI with Einstein Platform being released for Developer’s, with several new tools being announced.  Also in this week’s brief, how AI can help Sales Enablement, ‘CRM‘ stock to double in 3yrs and finally did you ever think you would see Oracle and Salesforce agree on something?!  I know I didn’t…

    Salesforce introduces Einstein Platform (AI tools for developers)

    Salesforce Einstein, ready for takeoff?

    The slow and steady release of Einstein across the Salesforce multiverse continues this week, with Einstein Platform being unveiled to the world.

    After Salesforce announced the Account Based Marketing AI suite last month and attention has now turned to helping out platform developers.  Who can now have access to some cool new additions such as Intent & Sentiment Analysis!

    This means developers can now start use AI to analyse comments/text to understand if it is positive/neutral/negative in sentiment or also use Einstein to analyse the intent of a request (to then help route to the correct queue as an example).

    Forbes has an article around the dawn of the ‘data developer’ here, and a quick look into where this trend might end up.

    How AI can help Sales Enablement

    Source: Heinz Marketing
    Sales Enablement.

    Firstly, the term Sales Enablement isn’t very common outside of North America.  So what are we talking about here?  Ultimately the function of sales enablement is to provide salespeople with what they need to successfully engage the buyer throughout the buying process.

    So it is a domain that is ripe for AI to help drive insights about the buying process.  We saw previously how Marc Benioff is using AI to empower Salesforce’s forecast meetings.

    The insights and trend analysis that machine learning can deliver will help to unleash productivity within any sales organisation.  And this article looks at how it will support Sales Enablement in this push towards the future.

    Salesforce (CRM) stock to double?

    One of Salesforce’s major shareholders is making bold claims about the share price having room to grow.  To watch the video, click here.  This is in no way financial advice, but interesting if it proves true…

    We all know Salesforce has been flying along recently.  But from my point of view the competition in the CRM space is about to really heat up.  Microsoft is starting to slowly find its feet, Oracle is not to be underestimated and SAP is also in the pack…  Not to mention all the yappy upstarts like Pipedrive, Zoho, etc.

    The CRM playing field is about to get very crowded.

    Oracle, Amazon, Google, and Salesforce finally agree on something…

    Ellison vs Benioff
    Ellison vs Benioff (Source: zdnet)

    (I loved this headline from The Register!  It really hit the nail on the head…)

    The High Tech Innovators Alliance (HTIA) a lobby group which has been formed and is backed by eight tech giants (the above mentioned, alongside Adobe, Cisco, Intel and Dell).  Why is this interesting?  They have formed this lobby group to try and get politicians to fix problems that surround patent law currently.  Because at the moment it seems anyone can sue anyone.  With the aim to make it more difficult for patent trolls to sue them and others.

    Hopefully this doesn’t stifle innovation, but instead affords innovators correct protections for their ideas.

     

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