“It’s always fun to talk about the next release” – These words by Mike Rosenbaum during the global Salesforce preview at San Francisco rang true not just for Salesforce as a company but for the entire Salesforce community. I’m certain that he echoed the thoughts of every developer/admin/user/ partner/customer involved with the platform. This release or ‘unveiling’ of a whole new Salesforce was no different. And I must say this one looks well worth the wait!
Now my first love was, is and will always be Salesforce. And I have been so in love that I’ve never felt there was anything remotely outdated about it. But with the release of the revamped Salesforce, I came to realize what we’ve been missing so long! The new Salesforce or Lightning Experience as it’s being called is the culmination of nearly two years of listening to and monitoring of customer and developer feedback. Salesforce has always prided itself in having a highly active and dynamic community and the ideas voted up within this community have been the driving force behind the new release. In fact, anyone who has waded into Salesforce waters will see at least one bottleneck that they have faced at one time or the other during Salesforce development being lifted with Lightning. This is probably what makes this all the more exciting.
So what IS the big deal about lightning anyway? In simple words, Salesforce has turned the spotlight (and how!) on what had always mattered to its users – ease of use, rather than the number of features. It has brought the experience of your favorite Salesforce1 platform onto your desktop. Here’s a look at some of the really cool stuff that Lightning Experience brings to the table and which I, for one, am definitely looking forward to.
Intuitive Dashboards – All those who’ve peeped into IdeaExchange will know that the one of the most asked for feature by our customers (an overwhelming 80,000+ votes) was to increase the number of columns on the dashboard. Sounds simple? Would you believe it took eight whole years to make that a reality? And as is typical of Salesforce, when they do something, they go all out and with Lightning, an admin can now create upto nine columns. We won’t be seeing that on IdeaExchange for a long, long time to come! The drag-and-drop and point-and-click features make customizations and summaries seem like changes that can be done in the blink of an eye.
Opportunity Workspace Reengineered– Remember Sales Path from Salesforce1? Hard to forget, I know. A key highlight of the Lightning Experience for the Sales Cloud (the first one in the Salesforce family to go over to the other side) is the Sales Path which is a one-stop shop for your sales reps to understand how far they’ve come in the sales process. It presents all the data and past history related to an opportunity in a nutshell. And if you wanted to dig deeper into a contact or other details, there’s the contextual hover feature which pulls up a summary of related information. The Pipeline Board sets out the stages in an opportunity and a user can mirror the actual progress of a deal through drag-and-drop like digital sticky notes.
Reinventing Enterprise UX the Salesforce Way – Clean and intuitive designs have been Salesforce’s secret sauce. With the new Salesforce experience, this has been thrown open to partners and customers alike with the Lightning Design System (LDS) . In essence, this means you can make use of CSS, fonts and icons to develop custom applications that fit right into the Salesforce ecosystem. In designing and deploying apps, the key parameter to be considered is consistency. It is this criterion that LDS addresses and helps you develop an app that is consistent with Salesforce in look and feel.
The best way to play around with all these great features is through the Lightning Experience trails on Trailhead. This is like your very own guidebook and what’s more, is power-packed and a whole lot of fun! The Winter’16 release will see Lightning being made available across all orgs. However, if you feel that’s too much happening too soon, fear not! The platform developers have thought that through too. A user can switch between Salesforce Classic (the current and soon-to-be old version) and the new Lightning Experience as and when they please with just a click on your home page. More than just being a fancy feature, this reiterates the fact everything is built on the same platform, yet is decoupled from all the data, making the shift a seamless experience.
Sounds like something you’d like to see in action? Then, Dreamforce15 and San Francisco is the place to be. The whole venue is sure to be buzzing with Lightning (or should I say #struckbylightning) and much more. I look forward to meeting you there in a few days time!