Salesforce Summer 14 Platform Highlights

The Summer ’14 release notes are out (in preview), this post outlines 10 selective highlights related to the platform (in no order of significance). Given the raft of enhancements to Salesforce1 I’ll cover this area in a separate post.

Custom Permissions (Developer Preview)
Custom permissions enable arbitrary permissions (typically function-centric) to be defined and assigned to users via Permission Set or User Profile, such permissions can be tested in code in a consistent manner to standard function-type permissions (Manage Cases etc.). A new CustomPermission standard object exists in addition to the related SetupEntityAccess object for this.

External ID Limit
The limit for external Ids on Custom Fields has been raised from 3 to 7. A definite necessity for medium-to-large scale implementations with multiple data integrations or complex query requirements.

Query Plan Tool
The Developer Console has been incrementally enhanced, as has been the case over recent releases, a key feature of the Summer ’14 version is the provision of access to the underlying query plan executed for SOQL queries. Very useful insight (impossible to access previously) for query optimisation.

Describe Limits Removed
With Summer ’14 the describe limits for Apex are fully removed. This is excellent news and will hopefully encourage more use of Dynamic Apex and generally a more dynamic approach to development with obvious maintainability and TCO benefits.

Access the Standard PriceBook in Test Code
A long term gripe for many developers has been the inability to access the standard pricebook in test code, meaning Product related unit tests had to run in seeAllData=true mode. Now test code can access the standard pricebook Id via Test.getStandardPricebookId(), use this Id in creating PBE, create custom pricebooks and related PBE, all with full test data isolation in place. Excellent.

Apex Flex Queue (Developer Preview)
The Apex Flex Queue is a holding queue for batch jobs where the current count exceeds the allowed 5 concurrent/queued jobs. Up to 100 can be held on the Apex Flex Queue; entries can be viewed in the setup UI and reordered. The entries on the Flex Queue are processed as system resources permit. This is a great improvement reducing the need for retry logic applied via Scheduled Apex to handled the full-queue case.

Higher Limits for @future Methods (Pilot)
Additional attributes on the @future annotation enable doubling or tripling of key execution limits; CPU time, heap size, soql queries etc. It would appear that increases may effect other asynchronous processes for the org. A similar approach to applying higher limits to Batch Apex classes would be very useful.

Simplified Package Installer
The relatively long-winded package installer now offers a simpler user-experience; one-page, one-click install. The detailed configuration options are there, but accessed on separate links by exception not as part of the standard course as was the case previously. AppExchange installs use the new UI by default, installs occurring via URL required the addition of the &newui=1 querystring parameter.

Analytics Dashboards API
The REST Analytics API has been extended to cover dashboards (in addition to reports). Capabilities include triggering a dashboard refresh, retrieving dashboard metadata and retrieving a list of the most recently used dashboards. All of which are key functions in incorporating dashboards into custom mobile views.

Related Lists as Console Components
Useful ability to define related lists for that appear as console components (within a Console app) for a specific page layout. The utility here is one of convenience, no more scrolling vertically, the lists can appear horizontally adjacent to the record details.

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