Salesforce Winter ’17 Platform Highlights

Once again regretfully it’s time to start talking about Winter; the Winter ’17 (v38.0) release that is. This (pre-Dreamforce ’16) release sees the return of a snowman logo (last seen in Winter ’10) – albeit rather glum looking on this occasion – despite the animated wink ;-); perhaps Dreamforce ’16 will cheer him/her up.

The new release is generally available now for pre-release preview. The preview release notes are available here.

The Winter ’17 sandbox preview starts early September 9th, with production orgs being upgraded late September/early October. Full details of the release schedule can be found on the trust.salesforce.com site.

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This post briefly outlines selected highlights related to the Force.com platform (in no order of significance).

– features are GA if not indicated otherwise

App Launcher
Winter ’17 re-introduces Application as a primary navigation concept; with previous LEX versions Applications are essentially logical groupings of functions within the App Switcher but had no further relevance – Navigation Menus are defined at the Profile Level not per-Application. With Winter ’17 Custom Applications are defined as Lightning Applications, tabs are added as-per Salesforce Classic – so really the only difference is the position of the App Launcher (far-left of the tab bar) and its ability to open a tab directly. The new App Launcher can also be set as the default page.

Winter 17 - App Launcher

AccountContactRelation Person Account Compatibility
The Summer ’16 release introduced a standard object version of the junction object typically implemented between Account and Contact to support indirect relationships (where more detail is required than ContactRoles allows). Winter ’17 provides Person Account compatibility and also support for Apex Triggers and Validation Rules. This is great functionality; Person Accounts (in a primarily B2C context perhaps) can now reflect any Business Account relationships and vice-versa using standard features.

Lightning Component Actions
Lightning Components that implement the new force:LightningQuickAction or
force:LightningQuickActionWithoutHeader interfaces can be invoked from a Custom Action added to a Page Layout.

Winter 17 - Lightning Component Action

Winter 17 - Lightning Component Action 2

Spanning Relationships Limit Increase
The Spanning Relationships limit applies to declarative features such as formulas, workflow rules and validation rules and constrains the number of unique object references. Previously this limit was 10 but could be lifted to 15 via Salesforce Support. Hopefully the new value of 15 can also be increased as this particular limit can be serious scalability constraint particularly where the org customisation has made no effort in respect to conservation.

Invoke a Process from a Process
Invocable Processes allow one Process to call another Process; this allows a modular design approach to be taken to support reuse of processes as units of logical encapsulation.

Winter 17 - Invocable Process

Flows for Lightning Experience (Beta)
With this beta feature enabled URL-based flows can execute with the Lightning runtime rather than the Salesforce Classic runtime. It’s great to see Force.com Flow (or Visual Workflow) entering the Lightning era – automated conversion of existing Flows to Lightning Experience is a real benefit for implementations that have taken advantage of this incredibly powerful and much overlooked capability. Winter ’17 also provides the ability to embed flows within Lighting Pages (App, Record and Home pages).

Use SLDS in Lightning Apps
Lightning App definitions can now automatically reference the latest Salesforce Lightning Design System (SLDS) styles and design tokens. This is achieved by defining the application as extends=”force:slds”. This approach is recommended over the Static Resource approach where a particular version of the SLDS is statically referenced.

Automated Package Installation via API
ISVs are now able to automate managed package push upgrades via the API. This capability provides support for use cases such as customers accepting an upgrade offer sent via email or submitting a web form to request an upgrade. The Tooling API now supports automated upload of packages, upload status monitoring and the retrieval of installation Urls for distribution to subscribers – via the PackageUploadRequest object (and related).

Omni-Channel Routing for Chats (Beta)
A new Routing Type “Omni” enables Omni-Channel to route and prioritise Live Agent chats alongside other types of Work Item. Previously Live Agent chats were routed using skills and Agent availability only. As with Omni-Channel generally, this feature is Salesforce Classic only at this time.

Lightning Login
Passwords can be frustrating for users and a system administration nightmare. With Lightning Login user authentication can be achieved through a simple mobile-based approval. The user enters their username and clicks the Lightning Bolt, a notification is sent to the Salesforce Authenticator app (iOS and Android), user completes authentication in the app via Fingerprint or PIN. The feature works in both LEX and Salesforce Classic and is assigned to users via Permission Set.

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