While this would be a good opportunity to use the hackneyed meme from the Game of Thrones television show, we’ll spare you. Still, the Salesforce Winter 18 release has been around for a few weeks now, and Winter is Coming.
We’ve been using the Winter 18 release for the past few weeks and can emphatically say that Lightning is now prime-time, or rather, binge-worthy, to use millennial parlance. It’s faster, more functional, and its UI more beautiful than prior releases. In summary, it’s a pleasure to work in.
Salesforce calls it a new look and feel and indeed, the sharper contrast between background and foreground constitutes a seemingly small change that makes a big difference in the feeling of the application. Bravo, Salesforce UX and engineering teams.
The list of what’s not available in Lightning (vs. Classic) has shrunk almost to the point of irrelevance. I believe we’ve reached the tipping point of Lightning adoption and organizations will have little choice but to migrate to the new UI in order to take advance of the latest and greatest features the platform has to offer.
Organizations will no longer be getting their money’s worth if they stay with Classic. As Lightning keeps getting faster and thus living up to its name, Classic is really starting to look and feel, well, classic.
We have a few thoughts to share as we’ve had the chance to take advantage of the updates. Cue the bullet points.
- Improving files has been a major push of late, and for those using Files as document management, permissions just became more granular. The release notes sum it up well (emphasis ours), “Attach a file to a record and keep it private, or share it with select individuals or groups. Previously, all files on records in Lightning Experience were visible to everyone with access to the record. Now you can choose who sees your file. This feature is new in Lightning Experience and communities.”
- The new lead conversion is slick, with more options on one page and a more graphical experience for this function. Our team is fortunate to be converting many leads each month, so this is a welcome change.
- On the integration side, our favorite G Suite integration just became more powerful, with two-way Lightning Sync for Calendar, and Tasks in Lightning for Gmail. If you’re like us, you’re syncing your G Suite Calendar to Salesforce. Take note, though; to keep this up and running there are some required changes that need your attention.
- Lightning Report Builder is in beta, offering a glimpse into the future of building reports in Salesforce. Very cool. Along this same theme, tables with up to 10 columns can now be added to dashboards. Like us, I suspect many will find this useful to summarize information at a glance.
- Platform events are getting more accessible. Process Builder now allows you to start a process when a platform event occurs and flows can wait for a platform event to occur. This is powerful stuff, folks, and we’re integrating Platform Events into ProcessComposer in an upcoming release.
- Salesforce continues to build on the Field Service Managed Package. The enhancements are super interesting – including drawing out territories, scheduling work over multiple days, reserving timeslots for designated work and scheduling work dependencies on complex work and controlling which absences appear on the resources Gantt chart. Now, planned and actual travel routes are displayed on the console map, too.
Regarding ‘stuff for developers,’ there are several improvements about which our team is particularly excited.
- Einstein is increasingly accessible, with Einstein Language now in beta and allowing integration of natural language processing into applications. Prior to this release, Vision was the only feature generally accessible through API. There is more from Einstein on the UI (clicks not code) side, too.
- There are 30 new built-in Lightning Components and several have changed. We’ve already used a few of these and added them to our most recent ProcessComposer release (Version 11).
- A couple more we found interesting: the data limits for remoting requests and client payload data has been bumped to 4MB, and feature parameters, Salesforce DX and Lightning Data Service have been made generally available.
- One of the more slick features found in this release is the ability to Automatically Style Existing Visualforce Pages with Lightning Experience Stylesheets. Now in beta, this feature is meant to do exactly what it says—help users take existing Visualforce pages and make them look like Lightning, with less code. Previously, the code required was non-trivial. In my opinion, this is a few releases too late, but certainly I prefer late to never. Our applications still heavily utilize Visualforce and for good reason, as not all Visualforce capabilities translate to Lightning components. So we continue to use them in the near term as we develop more in actual Lightning Components. This helps tremendously to easily migrate more styling to fit Lightning without having to make copious temporary code revisions. It’s often better to completely redesign a page rather than migrate styling, so this fits more with many a developer’s workflow—bridging the gap between Classic and Lightning with Lightning-styled ‘older’ pages, prior to completely rebuilding in Lightning Components which makes the most sense long-term.
The Salesforce Winter 18 release brings several great features and we’ve been happy to utilize them these past several weeks, both while selling our solutions and developing new applications and features.
Each of the items above will help make our suite of efficiency-boosting products (workflow automation, document generation, scheduling) and future applications more powerful and valuable to our current and future users and we’re happy to share our thoughts with you. Happy holidays and best of luck in the New Year.