By Trevor Williams

With the winter season in full swing, Salesforce released “Winter ‘17” to the world, and with it came several new additions to the Lightning Experience, as well as many updates that further closed the gap between core feature differences between Salesforce Classic and Lightning. Some changes are noticeable the moment you log into a Lightning-enabled organization, such as the sidebar navigation being replaced with new “Classic-like” tabs, while others may catch the eye of your administrator, such as the global search bar now allowing you to search for content within Setup. In this blog post, you will learn about some aspects of the Winter ’17 release that I found to be most interesting and likely to impact you as a nonprofit user of Salesforce.

However, I will also be discussing some of what was shared with the Salesforce community during this year’s Dreamforce conference, thus giving you some insight into what is potentially coming in the next two releases. The very first session that I attended at Dreamforce was “Mega Lightning Roadmap: Future of Lightning and the Customer Success Platform”, led by Andy Kung (Director of Product Management, Sales Cloud, at Salesforce). The last portion of my post will concern content that are part of the coming Spring 17 Release, which you can now preview in any new sandboxes that are created. The updates introduced in the Spring release warrant their own separate post, but I’ll just be sharing summarized details on select features here – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get excited about it, though!

MY HIGHLIGHTS OF WINTER 17

  1. Navigation sidebar is replaced with the horizontal Navigation Bar

Easily one of the most recognizable changes to the Lightning Experience, the horizontal navigation bar is a throwback to the original navigation bar that you can find in Classic. This will allow you to easily access records within objects just based on the object name – as opposed to its icon – for faster recognition. For those that are coming to the Lightning Experience from Classic, this will make the transition much easier.  However, some new functionality is baked into the horizontal navigation bar: Users can now create new records directly from the navigation bar as well as access both recently-accessed records and lists, further reducing the number of clicks it would take for someone to accomplish those tasks.

This change also exposes the new App Launcher, which is now accessible on the navigation bar. Some of the big changes to the App Launcher is that it now displays app descriptions and assigned icons for each app, along with the app name. For organizations that have lots of apps or objects that are accessible to their users, you can now search for specific apps and objects in the App Launcher search bar.

  1. Kanban now Available for Leads, Contracts, and Campaigns

Kanban, one of many unique features in the Lightning Experience, allows users to easily review batches of records (represented as cards) in an object and dynamically change that record’s stage by simply dragging and dropping it from one stage to another. This feature used to just be available for Opportunities, but now it’s been extended to three other objects: Leads, Contracts, and Campaigns. In addition to Kanban being extended to three more objects, you can now edit records from the Kanban view, as well as control when a record advances from one stage to another by way of editing required fields directly in Kanban view. This ensures your users can easily update a group of records without having to dive into each one individually – because of this, I highly recommend you check out Kanban in Lightning if you haven’t done so already.

  1. Search for Content within Setup

Easily one of my favorite updates, this allows administrators of Salesforce to search for not just different sections within Setup, but most forms of content within those sections. Content that can now be found in Setup using the global search bar includes objects, fields, workflows, custom buttons/actions, assignment rules, profiles, roles, and static resources. Being able to search for the exact field you want to edit as you’re reviewing page layouts (one of many situations where this feature benefits the administrator), as opposed to the many clicks and scrolling it would normally take in Classic to access that same field is a real time-saver.

That said, it doesn’t search for everything: custom code in Apex, and the names of Apex Classes and Triggers aren’t part of this new search paradigm, but I’m happy that we can search like this at all. I trust being able to search across all of Setup will come.

  1. “Classic” Functions that Made the Jump to Lightning

As with the last few releases, Salesforce continues to close the gap between Classic and Lightning in terms of features and functions that exist in Classic but were not initially brought to the Lightning Experience. Here’s a short list of some key additions.

  • Sticky Record Details – Users will be able to hide individual sections on a record page layout and, more importantly, Salesforce will remember which sections were closed so they stay hidden the next time you view records with that page layout.
  • Field-level Help Text – The little “help bubble” icon that provides more contextual information on a field?  Yup, that is now in the Lightning Experience.
  • “Save & New” Button – For those that have a need to create several records back-to-back, you can now do this with the reintroduction of the “Save & New” button for all objects in Lightning.
  • Inline Editing from List View (beta) – This function, which is in beta as of the Winter ’17 release (this means that there are still some limitations, but it’s available for users, provided that their administrator makes it available), allows users to make changes to records from a List View, thus reducing the time it could take to make several changes across many records in a list versus accessing them individually.
  • Create and Manage Global Picklists – Administrators can now manage global picklists within Lightning, as opposed to switching back to Classic to accomplish the same task.  For those that haven’t used global picklists, they allow you to manage a single list of values that can be applied to multiple picklists in an organization.

SPRING 17 AND BEYOND

Spring 2017 Logo

 

Quite a bit was discussed concerning what was coming down the Lightning Experience pipeline. Like with my Winter 17 highlights, here’s a shortlist of some items that really caught my eye.

  • Kanban being extended to ALL objects (standard and custom) – Going a step further from what Salesforce accomplished in the Winter ’17 release, we should expect Kanban to be accessible on all objects.
  • Viewing the Account Hierarchy – One of many other “Classic” functions that is currently missing from Lightning.  You will be able to click a link next to an Account Name to view its relationship with parent and child Accounts.
  • Send Emails from any “Activity-enabled” object (standard and custom) – This is the “Email” related list, which currently is not available on most objects in the Lightning Experience, but being supplemented with an Action.
  • Follow-up and Recurring Tasks can be created from the Calendar – Another “Classic” functionality, which allows you to create Task records from a calendar Event.
  • Access Lightning Design System styling directly within Visualforce – The Lightning Design System is a website that contains lots of content which would help any Salesforce developer in creating web pages that would conform to a variety of standards that would result in your webpage looking like something that would seamlessly blend in with the Salesforce ecosystem. Having access to this content directly in Visualforce when you’re in the process of designing a new page will be a great asset at your developer’s disposal.

CONCLUSION: LIGHTNING IS THE FUTURE

Between all that I’ve shared here and everything else that you can review in the official release notes, it is clear that Salesforce is doubling-down on the Lightning Experience. With each release, more new and unique functions and features are being added to Lightning while, at the same time, “Classic” functionalities that were missing are being added back into the Lightning Experience. One can draw many conclusions from the direction Salesforce is going with Lightning, but one thing that you may be asking yourself is not if Salesforce will eventually stop updating “Classic,” but when. Therefore, it is prudent to keep yourself as informed as possible regarding the Lightning Experience and to immerse yourself in it. The future of Salesforce is already here – the time to fully embrace it is right around the corner. If you are looking for assistance to move to Lightning, contact your Cloud for Good Account Executive for more information.

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Trevor Williams

Trevor Williams