Spring 2022 arrived Feb 12. My article is intended to help other nonprofits spot what is required to do and what may be good to do for those products covered by the Power of Ten license grant. I’ll first go through the official release notes and determine what actions are required by the admin to cope with change or enable change. Then I’ll review my top ten list of best features that I found in the preview release notes about 6 weeks ago to see how they fared when it came to the actual release.
First my review of required actions found in the How and When Featured Become Available section of the release notes. This is super critical for admins to review, looking especially for big changes that might affect your org that are on by default or looking for changes that you want that must be enabled and configured. This is also where you find out any features that are by invocation only (pilot). It took me 40 minutes to go through all the products and isolate the things that I think are relevant to us Power of Ten folks:
- Multi-Factor Authentication: The plans have shifted from a few months back. Salesforce are now pointing out that as of Feb 1, 2022, we have all been contractually required to use MFA. However, they have stopped short of automatically enabling the setup permissions that force it in your org… for now. Time to make a plan if you have not to at least use Salesforce Authenticator. If you use single sign-in, your SSO is required to have specific MFA capabilities. Email and text verification are not considered sufficient authentication to satisfy your contract. Here are the best docs I found to answer my pre-implementation questions: https://admin.salesforce.com/blog/2021/everything-admins-need-to-know-about-the-mfa-requirement and https://help.salesforce.com/s/articleView?id=000352937&type=1
- Along with this MFA contractual requirement, Salesforce rolled out support for built-in biometric ID available on many devices. You have to enable it so they can use this as an alternative authentication means. Examples include FaceID, TouchID and Windows Hello. This may be very attractive to small nonprofits and help reduce the cost of MFA support and reliance solely on Salesforce Authenticator. I’ll be working on this soon as it sounds very convenient for users of dedicated devices like phones and tablets and even Windows machines.
- Salesforce enforced a pretty big behavior change when it comes to a user email address changing: now they must change their password at the same time. This was available before but is now enforced automatically. You may stumble across this unknowingly so best forewarned.
- The new report editor browser became a Beta by request only. So you’ll have to contact customer service to opt into the feature. I did.
- Lightning Apps now offer a full-width tablet experience that is GA. This has been Beta in the past but is now GA. You must turn it on or users continue to get the phone experience with a single column.
- Enhanced Report Folder sharing. This was a beta feature in the past and was intended to be turned on but they have postponed turning it on for everyone indefinitely. I recommend evaluating if you can use it now and turn it on when you are ready.
- If you use Lightning consoles (not just for service anymore), Lightning Apps rolled out an important control of how modal windows impact focus in 2020. The change will no longer be turned on automatically until 2024. I recommend evaluating it now because it’s nice if you use consoles.
Here’s a detailed examination of the Top Ten Goodies I found for Power of Ten license holders. The very best surprise for small nonprofits moves to the top of my list: Your Account.
- Your Account. Look what I found under my current contract. This means less time tracking down people, quotes, etc. Just do it! (apologies to whomever). It’s not every product in the world or every variation and doesn’t include Experience Cloud in particular, but it’s a great start and very welcome. I was able to put an additional license or new licenses in my cart, have it calculate a prorated price based on my contract, got legal disclosure and apparently could have added it all online. Products included Sales and/or Service Cloud seats, Force 100 Seats (often a good way to go for custom solutions for every employee), as well as some of the paid products like case management and the upper tier grant management (OGM is still free). Pricing was what I expected from the transparent pricing information available on Salesforce.org. Way to go, Salesforce! Wow! Big upgrade! The one oddity is that I couldn’t find my AE’s name anywhere. I honestly don’t know how to do that anymore, actually. My pending contract renewal can also be paid now here with checkout!
- Einstein Search is now on by default. It’s a great feature. I recommend using these optional settings:
I think Einstein Search with these actionable actions is an unsung hero of Salesforce core user productivity. We talk a lot about how Lightning App Builder allows us to create our apps so users never have to leave the page to get work done even when it involves multiple related objects. Einstein search builds on that to allow users to quickly tackle short random tasks without disrupting the page they have in progress. You simply type in using the search bar to find and browse information (including multiple layers deep in the data model), to launch a modal edit or to click an action button. I can find details of a contact or account, differentiate similar contacts, delete or edit an opportunity, access quick actions to run flows or edit records, check volunteer or program history all without loading a new page or losing any work in progress! If you haven’t adopted it, it takes a bit of getting used to but it should definitely become a way of providing user story solutions more often. Productivity and user happiness will increase! Note that it not only takes a little time to get used to but Einstein needs to see you search and click a while to know what you typically look for and what you typically do with the information. Brand new users often don’t have any or very useful suggestions and have to hit the search icon, but that changes rapidly with use.
In this screenshot, I’m busy knocking down tasks assigned to me but got interrupted to update or check an affiliation of a particular user. Notice that I typed in the global search, selected the right record, expanded the list of related affiliations and activated the edit action without leaving the page. After updating, I’m right back to my task Kanban. Fantastic!
I turned on the available beta features (not available in all accounts) and here is the new behavior where I can modify the natural language search:
- Inline editing in reports became much faster and more user friendly! Now editing multiple values works more like a list view. Edit several items and then save all at once. I love this improvement. If you haven’t trained users to curate and clean-up data by editing away the wrinkles from a report yet, it might be time! Warning: It does take that extra click to save, just like in list views. Users will have to adapt but it’s worth it. No need to go find the record to edit only to come back and rerun the report. It can fuel a big win for user productivity and for data quality. Turn on this Beta now and check your other Reports and Dashboard settings:
Here I have a data cleanup report that finds a custom object that is missing a key piece of information. I was able to in-line edit this picklist value for a bunch of items and then hit save. Inline editing does not (yet) have the feature “apply to multiple items” feature that is available in list views.
- A nice NEW helper added: We now can convert from workflow rules to a record triggered flow, one for one and seamlessly! I don’t recommend spending a lot of time on this but when you need to tweak some old rules, convert them to flow first using this simple tool! Eventually we’ll have a process builder converter too and then it may make more sense to spend time converting. I don’t really recommend converting workflow and process builder one for one to flow any more than I recommended converting classic pages to lightning one for one. The conversion allows for an opportunity to rethink things and do them better. And it’s time to get rid of old items. Looking at my list of workflow rules, I see some we don’t need any more that I can deactivate. I see some that are managed so I’ll need to wait on those. And I see a number of workflow rules that can be simplified to a single flow to maintain rather than a bunch of rules. That will be a win when I’m ready! But I’d say resist the temptation to simply start converting for the sake of conversion. You may break some packages for one thing. And for another, architects are working like crazy to try to determine the very best way to structure flows for performance and cost of ownership. There is not a consensus yet on the best strategy.
The workflow rule converter is super simple: select a workflow rule and convert it. The old is deactivated and the new is activated. It’s pretty guaranteed and better than converting manually since it’s not likely to introduce a typo. Because of workflow rule simplicity, it should just work. Then you can modify the flow to expand function as needed.
- The flow editor got lots of good improvements. It’s perfect timing, since so many new users need to start using it! My favorite editor change: Open a subflow from within the calling flow!
When you do need to open a new browser window for a second flow, the flow names now appear in browser tabs to help find them faster when you have multiple open flows. Also an improvement! (I wish they could figure out how to give me a different icon than the blue cloud.)
Autolayout layout (default) and free-form (new name for manual) layout are now fully supported including switching back and forth. Just use Autolayout if you’re new. If you have manual (now free-form) layouts created long ago, switch them–you won’t be sorry!
The goto element was introduced in Winter 22 to be used sparingly, but you can now also connect logic inside a flow to go elsewhere. Common examples from traditional programming include early loop exit upon reaching some condition, aborting a loop, and restarting a loop after detecting some important change. Use this powerful logic sparingly folks! It can be confusing!
Keyboard shortcuts have been added for moving around the flow editor and opening elements. This could be a win but I’m pretty disappointed. I found a few wins compared to mousing (but of course keyboard support is a huge win for accessibility.) Moving to the next element from one you just closed is pretty fast with just two tab (for next item) keys required. Adding a new component to a junction “plus” sign is just enter (to open), tab (to move to the first item), down arrow key (to move down the list) to the right element, then enter (to open). Reordering an element on a screen page is nice: selecting it (mouse, I think is best), space (to hold screen component for moving), up/down keys (to move), and space (to release). I believe that with some practice, moving from canvas element to element in sequence, adding the next component after closing an item, and moving screen components up and down in the screen layout can be faster with keys. Everything else was too awkward. My F6 shortcut conflicts with Chrome. I hope they will add additional logical keyboard shortcuts eventually, like e for edit, m for move, d for delete, space to select, etc.
Adding two common elements is a little faster in a record-triggered flow in automatic layout mode. I had believed we could set our favorite but that’s not the case. I really don’t think I get this one; it seems to simply move a copy of the existing Update Record and Email Action options to the top for these types of flows. Meh?
- We can build nicer UI with our flows now. My favorite is this: Create choices from a collection variable! To define a collection choice set: make a new resource to configure how to connect it to the collection, show the user the label, and configure how to tell the rest of your flow what was picked. Then set the collection you need using any of the flow methods possible (input variable, query, filtering, sorting, etc.). Then design your screen to allow single or multiple selection, radio button or pull-down. It’s all there. We could do this before (and still can) with a record collection set but that ties it to a specific database query without any further options.
You can now place more fields from a record variable directly on the flow screen instead of placing generic components, loading the defaults and then saving back to the record. Phones, emails, and picklists (including dependent picklists if you also use the controlling field) are now also supported (in addition to text, numbers, and dates from previous releases) for direct flow screen placement from a record variable. Frustratingly, contact name and mailing/shipping/billing address are not supported yet because they are compound fields. (I wish Salesforce had never made those stupid compound fields… they rarely provide support for them. Stupid special snowflakes make everyone’s life harder. Just resist it, architects!)
The flow navigation buttons on the bottom can be renamed and translated. Renaming them was a Beta feature now GA. I really like being able to say something besides “Next” and “Finish” or “Back”. Here is one example I have in a data quality checking sub-flow:
And translation hones in on the flow by name. This may be nice for packages and tweaking terminology on occasion, too.
Flow logs have come out as default capabilities now. We can now see which ones are in use, how often they are used, and how long people spend on them. I implemented a way to do this many years ago and it really helped. There is a sample report available to see the last 7 days of screen flow but you can modify and create your own as needed. Here’s the screen flow that have run in the last 7 days in my org:
- The calculation side of flow also got a bit better. We could already sort records with Winter 2022 but now we can filter collections from one collection to another! This amounts to a built-in loop where we go through the input items and check each using some AND, OR, or custom logic and only put the item to the output collection if true. The logic can be based on the item field values or on some custom formula. So we could get all opportunities in this month and then filter, to those more than a certain amount for further work. I was hoping we might be able to filter items if one field is contained in another collection but this isn’t yet possible.
- We have a second helper released in Spring 2022 (in addition to workflow rule conversion): the new Flow Explorer. It shows us graphically all the record triggered flows on an object. It’s not as useful as it might be since you can’t see much or do a whole lot, but one imagines it will get better. It would be much more helpful in my org if it also showed workflow rules and process builders. The “Process Builder” adage “one object / one automation” isn’t very sound any more as a fixed rule; there have always been architectural and performance reasons to combine and separate automations in various circumstances. Tools to view them all and control order of execution solve a lot of gritty issues though.
- You can control the order of execution of your flows now by assigning a four digit number! Running order is from lowest number to highest. The setting is found in the advanced tab of the properties dialogue for each flow.
I’d like to see this be made visible and actionable in the Flow Explorer. And we really need to be able to do this across all automations in one pool: APEX, Process Builder, Workflow Rules, and Flow. Of course, I’d settle for just the long-term ones: APEX and Flow in any specified order.
- Enhanced Permission Set Experience: Permission sets use is growing more important and popular. (I promise… profile based permissions will go the way of workflow rules one of these days.) It may be time to tune-up your user management settings. There is a new beta experience available. I enabled a few items under Manage Users Settings. Here are the settings I’m using. Restricting PII sounds good but it also means a community user can’t see their own email so I don’t think it’s ready for prime time unless required by your governance.
Here are some that I will watch but I don’t list because I don’t know that they can be useful yet to most small nonprofits:
- Scoping rules are now GA. It’s unclear the ideal use for these in small nonprofits. One thing my users don’t like is that we have 10+ years of data. They’d really like to see only recent data. There is some chance that search results configuration and scoping rules might be able to help with that. I’d love to see the NPSP community find use cases for scoping rules. They could really improve user experience on a daily basis.
- There is a lot of talk about Orchestrator and it’s been a concept on the drawing board for several years. It’s GA, now including support for packaging, debug management and a lightning component to put on pages to help people see and execute tasks from an Orchestration. This is basically the new approval process manager and really a systemic workflow manager that allows sequences of manual and automation steps to be interspersed with approvals. I’m not yet talking about it because it’s not clear if it will remain freely available or become a paid license and not part of the Power of Ten license grant. It was widely believed to be on the path to a paid product back at Dreamforce 2021. Nevertheless, it seems to be the future of approvals rules, which have gotten no significant love from the core team in a very long time.
Here are some things that should be changing and didn’t unfortunately. These things leave holes in capabilities, implementations, and force workarounds that cost everyone in the long term:
- Mobile is pretty much a pan on this release. There is almost no additional support provided for this release. It’s time for true parity between mobile and desktop. I’d say if you can’t bring it out on mobile, don’t bring it at all! It definitely limits my adoption of the coolest new app features because my users expect (and deserve) parity between desktop and mobile.
- Dynamic forms got no new love in this release. It’s time to finish this feature! I really can’t adopt much of it because it’s not available on all objects or mobile. Stop bringing out support for features on selected objects only if the plan is to support them all.
- The Components on a Lightning Page App need to evolve and support dynamic interaction. It came out for custom work last time and I really wanted to see it on standard components this time.