Hunting for Process Builder Treasure in Summer ’15

Can you hear that? It sounds very much like the familiar soundtrack of summer: the jingle of an approaching ice cream truck. But as well as the usual sweet treats, when this truck rounds the corner it will bring us a sprinkling of extra-special Summer ’15 surprises in the form of new Salesforce features. Here’s the scoop…

Ice Cream Truck

As soon as Summer ’15 hit pre-release environments a few days ago, the usual treasure hunt began. As is traditional, Salesforce users began combing through the release to find some clues as to which new features will be found in the official release notes, which are still a number of days away from being previewed.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will share our favourite features from each area of the platform. But for now, we want to immediately share two much-anticipated and well-received improvements to one of our favourite recent additions to Salesforce, Process Builder.

We knew even before it was launched that Process Builder had the potential to transform the capabilities of point-and-click development on the platform. And so it has proved – we are now able to solve many use cases which previously required Apex code either by using Process Builder itself or by using it to auto-launch a flow. But, yes, there have been noticeable limitations. However, from the look of pre-release, it appears two of these limitations are set to be addressed in Summer ’15. Let’s examine them further.

The first enhancement is that the Update Records action can now have conditional logic applied to it. Process Builder brought the ability to automate the updating of a greater selection of related records, including child records and lookup parents. But when updating children it was an all-or-nothing deal: either you updated all the records on the other end of that relationship or none of them. You couldn’t set conditions as to which records were updated. Now you can.

The second addition is the ability to use formulas when configuring record updates. Previously your field updates could only include either hard-coded values or variables mapped to other fields on the record. So if you wanted to set a date field to a moving value like ‘today’, the only way you could solve this requirement was to create a formula field on the record returning TODAY() and map the other field to that. Now you can build your own formula for the field’s updated value, just as you can in classic workflow rules.

Now let’s connect those two new features together and run through an example use case.

Let’s say you want to automate two updates based on an account being marked as inactive. First you want to mark any open opportunities as Closed Lost, and secondly you want to populate a field with information on who deactivated the account and when.

Previously you would only have been able to close all child opportunities (including any which were previously won) and only able to build your other field update by storing that value in a separate formula field on the record. But look how we can do it now:

The Process Overview

Process Overview

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conditional Record Update

Conditional Record Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Formula Field Update

Formula Field Update

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It remains to be seen whether any other updates are coming to Process Builder. Previous pre-release environments have sometimes not contained all the features which made it into the final release, so let’s see. Certainly it looks like we’re not yet going to see any improvement to the bulkification issues faced when using Process Builder – that’s not unexpected as we know this is a highly complex problem to solve.

But it’s sunny outside (at least in the northern hemisphere) so let’s focus on the good news: even if it was just these two improvements alone that we get for Process Builder in Summer ’15, they will make a difference. The more use cases we can solve – and the easier they become to solve – using Process Builder, the greater the adoption of the tool. And the greater the adoption, the better the feedback, and the greater the motivation to keep on improving it. Things will snowball. And on that note, I’m off outside for a frozen sphere of my own – but this one will sit atop a cone and will come from that ice cream truck I can hear approaching.

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