Key Notes from Dreamforce 2018: Lightning Platform
Salesforce delivered a mission statement to deliver "Democratization of app development" by bringing together all skillsets from those creating solutions with no-code, low-code tools, and out-of-the-box platform services to bring mutual success of businesses, IT departments, and developers. The progression of Lightning and accompanying message reflects the ongoing maturity of the platform, transitioning from the innovative changes introduced by Lightning just a few short years ago to ensuring ongoing growth via dedication to delivering tools and functionality that mirror the needs and preferences of customers in this "Fourth Industrial Revolution" where customer aware and centric experiences are essential.
As much as we'd all love turnkey solutions that work for companies across all verticals, delivering those personalized experiences chock-full of challenges. Process, productivity, integration, communication, tools, security, and governance are among a few of these faced in every project. Historically, some challenges have been best left to the business side of firms to figure out with IT's assistance to implement alongside the more technical aspects, such as security and governance. Modern projects have blurred these lines to the point where all of the challenges faced are best tackled by both business units, but from very different perspectives; the keynote's underlying theme is that the Lightning Platform provides the technology to serve as a bridge between each side. If the Lightning Platform is the bridge, then the no-code/low-code tools are the bridge's girders and trusses.
It would be difficult to find a business, of any size, that didn't have (or start) with some type of dependency on spreadsheets. They house data, provide rudimentary process logic, and business reporting - but fall short when sustainability, adaptability, and scalability are considered. Custom Objects have long been part of the platform and seen many changes from building them out in Classic's declarative approach through the setup menu, the click-and-drag Schema Builder, and Lightning's Object Manager.
Object Creator is in the same vein as the Schema Builder - a visual and assisted tool to spin up Custom Objects and Fields quickly. Spreadsheets can be uploaded into Object Creator (Excel, CSV, Google Sheet, and even Quip Sheets), which inspects the provided sheet to make recommendations for the Custom Object and Field names and data types. Recommendations can be overridden and fields automatically added to a Page Layout. One particularly interesting time-saver is its ability to not just inspect column headers, but the data within the column to speed up the creation of picklist field options. After the object, fields are created, profiles are updated, and then the data from within the uploaded sheet is imported into the object.
Lightning Flow and Flow Solutions
While Object Creator provides an improved object building experience, Lightning Flows have also been updated to assist in the creation of business logic through a more enriched and feature oriented drag-and-drop experience.
The tool provides elements for not just back-end automation, but interactive UI driven visuals as well to accomplish tasks like creating modal forms for completion of related missing data and process checklists. Customers aren't limited to just what they build themselves as Flow Solutions will be installable from the AppExchange to provide additional service abilities like document generation and eSignature.
Whether you’re an admin needing a better way to full populate objects and fields or a developer looking to speed up mundane and repetitive tasks, these tools can save a lot of time when creating custom solutions.