Winter ’21

With Winter ‘21 now in sandboxes, it’s time once again to take a look at the top features from this release. Once again, I think the most exciting things came on the Flow side but there are a ton of other great features I’m excited about in this release too. There was 1 in most of the sections that piqued my interest.

Search Trailhead from the Help Menu

Anytime I can save clicks, I’m all about it. If I can search Trailhead directly from Salesforce without having to open up another tab to Google it first, I count that as a win!

Service: New Threading Behavior for Email to Case (No More Ref Id)

It’s always struck me as odd that Salesforce would put the record Id and the org Id in external emails. As cool as I believe the Email-to-Case functionality is (and as much as I enjoyed identifying other companies as Salesforce customers when I saw the refIds in their emails to me), I think it’s a good thing to make this information a little more hidden from a security perspective. Not sure if it will make these issues more difficult to troubleshoot though.

Sales: Interactive Email Templates

Email templates have always left much to be desired for me, so I’m glad to see they’re getting a major upgrade! It looks like they’ll be consistent with the Lightning App Builder, a step in the right direction if you’re a fan of layout standardization like me.

Analytics: Auto-Add Fields to Custom Report Types

This is only in Beta, but it’s a much welcome addition! It’s always been a pain point of mine to have to find all my custom report types that use my objects and manually add new fields to them. Always a big fan of needing fewer clicks.

Communities: Manage Pages and URLs with the Pages Menu

Another win for customization, now you’ll be able to build out a robust site hierarchy and customize your URLs to meet your companies needs. Easy to understand URLs make it easier for users to find your pages and I think this feature will help with that goal as well.

Mobile: Shortcuts to Essential Pages

Not sure about you, but I usually have to describe complicated click paths in order to get users to specific places. I like the idea of having a centralized place I can direct users to in order to cut down on their number of clicks.

Customization

Flow Delete Triggers

Yet another great addition to Flow functionality, Delete triggers! Now you can choose a flow to fire off when a record is being deleted. Yet another key piece of Apex that can be turned into clicks. It only works before a record is deleted (vs after a record is deleted) but yet another piece of evidence that Flow is the future of Salesforce declarative automation.

Multi-Column Screens in Flow Builder (Pilot)

One of the reasons I’ve hesitated to use Flow is the not-so-user-friendly screen interface. I’m hoping we’ll get to the drag-and-drop Lightning App Builder-esque functionality at some point but it sounds like this is a start. It’s in Pilot for now but glad to see progress. 

Run Flows Based on Criteria

Another automation addition to Flows, now we have the ability to only fire them off when criteria are met, similar to Workflow Rules and Process Builder. With this addition, there are even fewer reasons to build WF and PB moving forward for new requirements.

Analyze Lightning Pages Performance

One of the biggest complaints (and deservedly so) about the Lightning Experience has been performance. While I believe it’s faster to develop in general in LEX compared to Classic, there’s little doubt that pages tend to take longer to load. Hopefully this new feature will help determine exactly why custom pages are taking so long to load, and will be the first step in major performance gains in LEX.

Dynamic Forms (GA) 

My favorite feature in Summer ‘20 is now Generally Available! Only for Custom Objects for now, but the ability to have cleaner layouts that will be dynamic is a major win for cleaning up long layouts with dozens of unused fields.

Manage Deleted Fields in Lightning

It’s a pain having to switch back to Classic to make, what should be straightforward, changes, such as managing deleted fields. Glad to see there’s one less reason to switch back and forth.

Development

Increased Timeout for Client-Side Caching from 15mins to 8 hrs

This is one of those changes that I’m both excited and nervous about. On the one-hand, increased time for client-side caching means that components and pages will load quicker because they’ll be cached in the browser. On the other hand, if changes are made to the components or data, I’m hoping this increased time won’t interfere. Since the refresh interval is set to 15 minutes, presumably, the worst case scenario will just be the previous behavior and the best case scenario will be faster pages.

Safe Navigation Operator to Avoid Null Pointer Exceptions

I’m pretty excited about this one! Always nice when code can be simplified and this new Apex operator has the potential to make a lot of null checks MUCH cleaner and take up fewer lines of code in the process. 

Custom Notifications from Apex

I definitely need to do some more research on this one, but I like the idea of being able to send customized notifications from Apex. Right now, I generally rely on the .addError() method, which doesn’t always give the cleanest errors. Excited to see the capabilities of customized notifications.

Scratch Orgs Based on Org’s Shape (Beta)

As someone who is increasingly getting into SFDX and Scratch Org, it’s become a frustrating pain point to have to tradeoff including different features in my scratch org, when a certain feature only works in a certain edition, but another feature only works in a different edition, while my production org includes both features. The idea behind the scratch org is to create a “local” copy of the Production org, and now this Beta feature is helping to make that a reality!

Lightning Design System Double Dashes Deprecated

Not necessarily excited about this, but still felt it was worth pointing out. The Salesforce extension should help you clean up the class references but good to be aware of it at least.

Let me know what your favorite new features are in Winter ‘21!

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