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Published on September 13th, 2016 | by Chris Edwards


Winter ’17 – Our Top Ten Features

What do we have here then? Salesforce Weekly’s top ten features in the Winter ’17 release, hey? Hmm, but didn’t those release notes come out, like, nearly a month ago? Well, yeah. Sorry. But, we have an excuse.

We were lucky enough to be invited to present the ‘Mastering Your Release Strategy’ webinar for Salesforce’s Release Readiness and Feature Adoption group, and Winter ’17 marked the fourth (or maybe fifth?) release in a row that we’ve been asked to lead that session. Over the last few releases, we have used this webinar as the moment that we unveil our top ten features from the new release. It just so happens that the Winter ’17 version of that session only happened last week.

Hey – I said we had an excuse, not that it would be a particularly good one! But, on the principle of ‘better late than never’, we are pleased to share with you the top ten features that we think you should be looking out for in the Winter release.

And we’ll kick off with Mike and his favourite NEW features…


1. Create Custom Apps in Lightning Experience and Navigate More Efficiently

First up is possibly the biggest change coming in Winter ’17. So just how big is it? Well, I think the term used in the release notes is that Salesforce has “reimagined the Lightning Experience navigation”. The reality is that perhaps this is less of a reimagination and more of a realisation that it’s time to pivot the navigation back to where it is statistically proven to be better: horizontally along the top.

Even if you have not turned LEX on you would have probably seen more than few screen shots where the navigation aspect is a vertical menu on the left side. Well the good news is that it has gone back to the top, but remains suitably “Lightenized” – so if you know Salesforce Classic, the updated navigation model will feel like a familiar friend, only better.

Also as part of this change, we now have the ability to create branded custom apps in LEX. These go beyond the standard app groupings like the Sales and Marketing apps which are provided out of the box and allow you to create your own fully customisable apps grouping together tabs, objects and other items. You can also now upload you own custom logo and apply colour branding to the app.


2. Login Password-Free with Lightning Login

Since everything else is going Lightning, we bet you were wondering when the login process was going to get Lightningized too! This update moves beyond 2-factor authentication which, whilst necessary to secure your org’s data, is perhaps was a little tiresome for some. Imagine if you could approve access to your org with just your fingerprint – effectively password free. That’s the world we are given with if you fire up Lightning Login.


3. Build Reusable Processes

Before Winter ’17, processes could already fire off pretty much anything, like approvals, flows, Apex, Chatter posts etc. But until now you have never had the ability to fire off another process.

These are called invocable processes, and they work like this… You can invoke processes if your process objects share at least one unique ID. For example, in the Account and Case objects, the AccountId field is common across the Account and the Case. So you could create an invocable process that updates a Case record and then can invoke it from a process which updates the Account owner or something similar.


4. Start Spreading the News on Chatter

What good is news if you can’t spread it as far as possible?! Well now this is a lot easier for us. Not only has the News feature made its way onto contacts and leads as well as accounts, but we can now share news stories to Chatter, making them much more actionable and integrated into your business data and processes.


5. Comments Are Now Live!

Finally, a short but sweet one to end my five. In LEX, comments are now updated real-time, which means no more hitting refresh, as Chatter really does come alive and will stream comments into your page as and when they are added. This is really a nice touch!


But of course not everything in the release is purely new. We’re also seeing a lot of improvements to existing features. And what do those improvements look like in Winter ’17?

Well, perhaps you’re one of the organisations that loves how Lightning looks but don’t think you’re quite ready to switch over to it yet because it’s maybe missing some of the small but valuable features that your users rely on. Well, this might just be the release to change your mind and win you over.

Every release brings more and more feature parity, and there’s plenty of that parity to be seen in Winter ‘17. Let Chris walk you through some of those much-sought-after updates…


6. Optimize Clicks and Time by Editing Inline

A really simple one to start with. Inline editing has now made it to list views in Lightning Experience! Yes, this is a small thing but I bet those that use it feel it can make all the difference to an org’s productivity.


7. Get Field-Level Help in Lightning Experience

If it’s possible for an update to be both very small and yet incredibly huge at the same time, this is it! One of our Awesome Admin Ten Commandments was that you should always provide help text where it’ll aid your users. This update means that help text will now display in LEX! (And, as a bonus, also in Salesforce1.) Yay!


8. Filter Reports by Relative Dates in Lightning Experience

You know those handy little report filter shortcuts like writing LAST 30 DAYS rather than having to manually select a date thirty days ago when building a report filter? They’re now supported in Lightning Experience reports. Win!


9. Launch a Lightning Component from an Action

Alright, what have we got for you next? Well, how about this – actions can now launch Lightning Components! OK, but that’s a new feature, isn’t it? So why is it in this section on feature parity? Well, let me explain.

This is a feature that could, for some use cases, go a long way towards replacing the functionality some orgs achieved in Classic using JavaScript buttons. Did you have a button that, once clicked, did something funky? I bet a Lightning Component could do it even funkier!


10. Run Flows with a Lightning Skin

You know how much we like flows here at Salesforce Weekly. So we saved this one til last. And this too is a new feature, but it is still very much about bringing the two user experiences closer together. 

Until now, even if you do have Lightning Experience enabled, any screen-based flows will have looked like Classic. Which is to say they looked boring and, yeah, old. With this beta feature, you can make them look like Lightning and therefore fit in with the rest of your Lightning org!

There are other beta features around Flow too, so look out for those – things like being able to use two-column layouts for example.


And there we have it – our favourite ten features to look out for in Winter. We’d love to know what else in this release has you jumping for joy or stroking your chin in pensive anticipation! 

Until we meet again, happy feature hunting, “bonne chance” for all your rollouts, and enjoy Winter!

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