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Davanti Dreamforce Digest #6: What's new and cool in the world of Salesforce?

03rd November 2021

Author Callum MacErlich

A number of the Davanti team attended sessions at this year’s Dreamforce, learning more about updates to the tech stack as well as gaining insights into their particular areas of expertise – and then we asked them to share their insights and highlights as part of this #DF21 Davanti Digest series.

Every year, Dreamforce is a veritable technology update extravaganza. We asked three of our Salesforce experts to reflect on the tech news from Dreamforce and share their top three tech highlights (and it was certainly a challenge limiting them to only three).

Here’s what David Norman, Callum MacErlich and Brad Riley had to say about their picks on what’s new, what’s cool and what’s around the corner in the world of Salesforce…

 

David Norman

Senior Manager, Salesforce Consultant

David Norman

Highlight 1: Salesforce Functions

What it is:

Salesforce Functions is Salesforce’s new “Functions as a Service” (FaaS) offering.

What it does:

Salesforce Functions enables spiky workloads that are computing-intensive and short in duration. Calls to Functions are temporarily allocated resources to perform required tasks, and these resources are de-allocated after completion. This is different from Salesforce’s other platforms which typically run continuously with a set quantity of allocated resources.

Why it’s cool:

FaaS has become popular in recent years as a more efficient (and therefore more cost-effective) way of handling spiky workloads across a variety of use cases – anything from calculating optimal delivery routes to serving up infrequently visited websites.

Salesforce hasn’t had a FaaS offering up to now. If Salesforce customers wanted to implement a Salesforce FaaS solution, they would have had to use another platform like AWS Lambda which would have meant building both the logic in Lambda and all the connectivity between Salesforce and AWS themselves. This could be a significant challenge for Salesforce customers with little prior experience with other platforms like AWS.

Salesforce Functions is a managed service with infrastructure and security taken care of, so Salesforce customers don’t have to worry about all of that – they can just focus on building their Functions and calling them from Salesforce. Functions can be written in JavaScript and Java which are familiar languages for Salesforce developers.

When it’s coming:

Generally Available with Winter 22 release (now)! Included with Enterprise Unlimited edition.

Highlight 2: Code Builder and DevOps Center

What it is:

Code Builder is a full-featured Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Salesforce running in the browser. It’s powered by Visual Studio Codespaces which is an AWS-hosted environment that runs Visual Studio Code.

DevOps Center is a new app for managing and automating Salesforce builds and deployments.

Together these two capabilities offer a significant improvement of the Salesforce developer experience.

What it does:

Code Builder is in the cloud, but that doesn’t mean it’s a cut-down IDE. It has everything a Salesforce developer would expect including Salesforce Extension packages, Salesforce CLI access, GIT integration and support for Node.js & Java.

DevOps Center enables a modern release process for Salesforce. Builders add their configuration and code changes to Work Items, submit them for approval/peer review and promote them through environments. Behind the scenes, all changes are captured and tracked in your preferred version control system.

Why it’s cool:

Salesforce’s out-of-the-box build tools are easy to use but are most appropriate for customers with relatively simple needs and low volumes of change. Together Code Builder and DevOps Center will bring a similar level of convenience to larger-scale Salesforce builds.

Code Builder

Like anything in the cloud, Code Builder has the obvious advantage of not being tied to your laptop. You’ll be able to jump on any browser to do work and access your environments, projects and files.

Code Builder will supersede Salesforce’s Developer Console which has been the primary browser UI for developers. While handy for one-off environment-specific work, Developer Console has several limitations – one of the biggest being lack of support for Lightning Web Component development.

DevOps Center

Modern release process

DevOps Center implements modern patterns – particularly around handling of merge conflicts – to streamline and automate the release process, resulting in increased solution quality and delivery efficiency.

A key deficiency of change sets – Salesforce’s current deployment tool – is the lack of merge handling. If two change sets with conflicting contents are deployed to the same sandbox, the last change set deployed overwrites the previous deployment with no warnings given and no chance to resolve any conflicts. Change sets can create issues around deployment quality, efficiency, and coordination effort because of this.

Configurator-friendly

One of the biggest benefits of DevOps Center is its low learning curve for administrators and configurators. Some customers have implemented their own release pipelines using other automation tools such as Jenkins. However, working with this type of pipeline requires developer tools which can be intimidating for non-developers.

When it’s coming:

  • DevOps Center is currently in Pilot, expected to be Generally Available with Spring 22 release.
  • Code Builder is expected to be in Beta with Spring 22 release.

Any other commentary/noteworthy points:

There are several third-party apps in the same space as DevOps Center, so its success will be dependent on features and pricing at Generally Availability. However, Salesforce’s offerings are generally seen as attractive by their customers and Salesforce has a track record of success when competing against third parties.

Highlight 3: CLI Unification

What it is:

The SF Command Line Interface (CLI) is a new Salesforce executable that adds to the capabilities of the existing SFDX CLI.

What it does:

The SF CLI is Salesforce’s new tool for cross-platform automation of all deployment and build on Salesforce. It will eventually replace SFDX as the CLI for Salesforce Core. Right now, you can use it to work on both Salesforce Core and Functions. Salesforce plans to add their other platforms over time – so far, they have mentioned MuleSoft, Marketing Cloud and Heroku.

Why it’s cool:

Let’s say you have Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud and MuleSoft. Deployments for these clouds currently use different mechanisms. This often results in entirely separate deployment processes, infrastructure and teams for each cloud. Such silos can impede effective delivery of cross-platform features that unlock the value of multiple clouds. However, breaking down these silos can require significant coordination overhead.

With SF CLI, the goal is to make it possible to deploy a feature across multiple clouds with a single command. The ability to automate multi-cloud deployments will increase efficiency and encourage greater alignment and coordination across all aspects of the delivery process, increasing the ability to deliver cross-platform value.

When it’s coming:

Generally available from Winter 22 release (now)!

 

Callum MacErlich

Senior Manager, Salesforce Architect

Callum MacErlich

Highlight 1: Scalability Center

What it is:

A single place to view and action insights from performance testing and investigate any incidents that occur.

What it does:

View and analysis the results of performance testing run in an org. Spikes in limits being breached and exceptions being thrown can be isolated based on times, and investigations raised. These contain information on what and who caused issues, as well as how many records were affected and suggestions on how to fix the issues identified.

Why it’s cool:

With the increasing complexity and size of the Salesforce implementations we are seeing, performance testing is becoming even more critical to our customers.

When it’s coming:

GA now

Highlight 2: Digital Process Automation

What it is:

Digital Process Automation is a suite of products that brings the capabilities of the Vlocity acquisition into Salesforce Industries. These tools fit into three layers, Experience, Workflow and Integration. These include Omniscript, document generation and DataRaptors.

What it does:

This provides a toolbox for us to deliver connected experiences for customers, with the ability to orchestrate end-to-end workflows, processes and guided interactions all infused with timely and relevant data from other systems.

Why it’s cool:

The tool suite that Digital Process Automation brings together is going to be a game-changer for a number of the clients we work with. The ability to quickly deliver world-class digital experiences that are able to utilise contextual data from integrations will provide better experiences for our customer’s customers.

When it’s coming:

GA now

Any other commentary/noteworthy points:

We’ve seen a number of these features released over the last few releases, so to have the unified suite is very exciting. With the changes to flow that have been released in parallel, we look forward to seeing how these two tools work together going forward.

Notes: Unifies all the Vlocity pieces, mainly for industries clouds

More information: https://www.salesforce.com/products/digital-process-automation/overview/

Highlight 3: Native Backup and Restore (future)

What it is:

With the rise of ransomware attacks, malicious attacks on systems, and the change of accidental data loss or modification, most organisations recognise the importance of having the ability to backup key business data. Up until this point, Salesforce backup and restore solutions have all been provided by AppExchange partners, but with this announcement, Salesforce is delivering one of the most sought-after capabilities that was not provided within the platform.

What it does:

The offering that Salesforce is providing will be a real challenger in the market, with most of the features you’d expect to see in AppExchange competitors. It supports customised backup frequencies for objects, metadata and files on the platform, with the ability to restore data based on date ranges or field-based criteria. Granular permissions and reporting provide auditable controls over who can create and access backups, while automated purging ensures that the system only retains information that is relevant. And as this is all built on the Salesforce platform, we have seamless integrations to this service for ease of use and setup.

Why it’s cool:

This is something that most of our enterprise clients want whenever we implement the platform, and up until this point they’ve had to use third parties to achieve this. Bringing this capability into the platform is a huge step for Salesforce and allows all of this to be managed within a single application and contract, rather than having to manage multiple systems and contracts.

When it’s coming:

GA now

More information: https://www.salesforce.com/news/stories/salesforce-debuts-backup-and-restore-to-guard-business-data-against-mishaps-and-mayhem/

 

Brad Riley

Chief Technology Officer

Brad RileyHighlight 1: Lucid Chart and shape library

What it is:

Lucid Charts has a new Shapes library called “Salesforce Architecture Diagrams”.

What it does:

Provides templates directly in LucidChart for different levels of Salesforce architecture diagrams and business perspectives.

Why it’s cool:

Provides a clear and consistent way to communicate architecture designs to business and technical stakeholders.

When it’s coming:

Available now!

Any other commentary/noteworthy points:

More information: https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/salesforce-shape-library

Highlight 2: Multi-object pages

What it is:

Provides the ability to configure a single page with data sourced from multiple objects.

What it does:

Allows non-developers to create a page that shows information from multiple related objects.

Why it’s cool:

Something that has never been possible for non-developers and is apparently the highest voted idea from the idea exchange community.

When it’s coming:

Summer 2022

Highlight 3: Dynamic Interactions

What it is:

A way to configure your components to communicate with each other without having to write a line of code!

What it does:

Dynamic Interactions lets non-developers create applications and pages with components that communicate with each other based on user interactions – all within the Lightning App Builder.

Why it’s cool:

Makes it much easier for components to communicate with each other and dynamically update based on changes within other components.  It no longer requires developer expertise!

When it’s coming:

Generally Available (GA) in Winter ’22

Any other commentary/noteworthy points:

Really adds to the amount of configuration you can do to make pages truly dynamic – adding to the existing capabilities like Dynamic Forms & Dynamic Actions.

 

Related reading:

Salesforce’s Best of Dreamforce – sessions on demand

Davanti Dreamforce Digest #1: Our Dreamforce 2021 highlights

Davanti Dreamforce Digest #2: The sustainability imperative

Davanti Dreamforce Digest #3: Integration insights

Davanti Dreamforce Digest #4: Tableau and data analytics highlights

Davanti Dreamforce Digest #5: Retail banking highlights