Pro Tip: Upgrade Your Salesforce Apps for Lightning Experience


Tune into the Lightning Experience Pro Tips blog series to learn about setting up Lightning Experience and how to avoid common gotchas along the way.

Let’s talk about Salesforce apps. You know, those collections of tabs that work together for specific teams or roles in your org. You’ve probably invested time in setting up a number of Salesforce apps to help your users do their jobs. But now there’s this new kid on the block—Lightning Experience. And word on the street is there’s something different going on with Salesforce apps, something about app types called Classic apps and Lightning apps. What does this shift mean for your existing Salesforce apps? As you work on your Lightning Experience rollout, how can you ensure that your users have seamless access to their go-to apps in the new interface? Do you have a lot of rework ahead of you?

The answers to these questions are pretty simple. Let’s look at how your existing Salesforce apps work in Lightning Experience, usually with no effort on your part. And let’s explore how you can add some sizzle (and potency) to those apps by upgrading them to take advantage of Lightning Experience-only improvements. All without impacting users still working in Salesforce Classic.

Classic Apps and Lightning Apps, Oh My

Conceptually, Salesforce apps are the same as they ever were. But now they come in two flavors: Classic apps and Lightning apps.

Apps created in Salesforce Classic are Classic apps. If you’re just getting started with Lightning Experience, it’s likely that all your org’s existing apps are of the classic variety. Most Classic apps just work in Lightning Experience. There are a few exceptions but we’ll talk about that in a bit.

Apps created in Lightning Experience are Lightning apps. These apps provide access to all the same standard and custom objects and tabs that you expect in a Salesforce app. But Lightning apps take things to the next level for you and your users with custom branding, support for Lightning pages and productivity utilities, and options to display unique views of records by app and by profile.

In Lightning Experience, users access Classic and Lightning apps from the same place—the App Launcher.

In this App Launcher, the Sales, Service Console, and Sales Console tiles are Lightning apps. The other tiles are Classic apps.

Access Classic Apps in Lightning Experience

As you move users to Lightning Experience, help them feel at home by making sure they can access their favorite Salesforce apps. To start, this can be as simple as confirming that your org’s Classic apps are included in the App Launcher. The Lightning Experience App Manager in Setup is the go-to place for managing Salesforce apps so let’s take a peek.

Access the App Manager from the Home tab in Setup. Enter App in the Quick Find box, then select App Manager.

  • Most of the standard Classic apps provided by Salesforce are automatically visible in Lightning Experience (1). You can tell they’re Classic apps by the App Type column (2) and that Lightning Experience users can access them by the checkmark in the Visible in Lightning Experience column (3). An exception is the classic version of Sales, which isn’t visible because we provide a Lightning version of that app (4).
  • All your org’s custom Classic apps that were created before Lightning Experience is enabled are also automatically visible when the new interface is turned on (5).
  • Custom Classic apps created after Lightning Experience is enabled aren’t visible in Lightning Experience by default. When Lightning Experience is turned on, we assume that new Classic apps are intended for users still working in Salesforce Classic. But you can easily make these apps available in Lightning Experience by editing the app and selecting the “Show in Lightning Experience” checkbox on the app’s detail page (6).
  • Salesforce Classic console apps aren’t supported in Lightning Experience. Instead, Lightning Experience provides standard Lightning console apps that should work for your sales and service teams (7). If not, you can customize them, or rebuild your Classic console apps as custom Lightning console apps. (See Create and Edit a Custom Lightning Console App in Salesforce Help for details.)

Tip: If you don’t want the App Launcher cluttered up with standard or custom Classic apps that don’t make sense for your Lightning Experience users, edit them in the App Manager and deselect the “Show in Lightning Experience” checkbox.

Move Your Custom Classic Apps to the Lightning Level

Making sure that your Classic apps are available in Lightning Experience is a start. But don’t stop there. Kick things up a notch and upgrade your custom Classic apps to Lightning apps. Why do this extra step if Classic apps work as-is in Lightning Experience? Because you can include items in Lightning apps that aren’t available in Classic apps. And because you can infuse Lightning apps with unique branding and custom record views that are tailored to your users’ needs. Besides, upgrading custom Classic apps is pretty effortless.

Wait a minute…upgrade? Doesn’t that mean the apps won’t be available to users still working in Salesforce Classic? Nope! The upgrade process turns a copy of the Classic app into the Lightning app, leaving the original version untouched. There’s no impact to anyone. So let’s see how easy it is to upgrade your custom Classic apps—and all the benefits your users get on the other side.

Note: You can upgrade any of your org’s custom Classic apps. If your users make regular use of standard Classic apps, such as the Service or Marketing apps, consider recreating them as Lightning apps. It’s easy to do with the New Lightning App wizard in the App Manager, but check out Create Lightning Apps in Salesforce Help if you want more details.

Kick off the upgrade of a custom app from the App Manager. Two clicks and it’s done. Then edit the resulting Lightning app to take advantage of the enhancements that are available only in Lightning Experience.

Click the drop-down menu next to a custom Classic app to upgrade it. Then edit the new Lightning version of the app, using it’s drop-down menu, to charge it up with productivity-boosting features. (Remember, the upgrade option doesn’t appear in the drop-down menu for standard Classic apps.)

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s look at how much cooler a custom app can be when it’s upgraded to a Lightning app.

  • Align the app with corporate, business unit, team, or initiative branding by adding a logo and primary color (1). (And coming in Spring ‘18, you can configure the app to override your org’s custom theme with the app’s branding.) Because you can brand each Lightning app differently, it’s easier for users to find what they’re looking for in the App Launcher.
  • Provide fast access to Lightning pages by including Lightning page tabs in the app’s navigation bar (2).
  • Include productivity tools like Notes, Recent Items, and Lightning Dialer by adding a utility bar to the app (3). The utility bar is a persistent footer where users can access utilities at any time, regardless of the page they’re using.
  • Display record pages that are tailored to your users’ business needs and activities when they work in the app (4). For example, for an Inside Sales app, you could replace the standard Lead record page with a specially designed version that includes a list view of the day’s new leads and the News Lightning component. Using Lightning App Builder, you create a custom Lightning record page then assign it as the default record view for the Lead object when activating the page. Set up custom default pages for one, some, or all of the objects in the app.

You can get even more targeted by overriding an app default record page with a different custom Lightning record page that displays just for users of a specific profile when they access the app. So you can deliver the perfect experience to various profiles, all from the same Lightning app. Check out Activate Lightning Experience Record Pages in Salesforce Help for more info.

After You Upgrade Custom Classic Apps

Remember we mentioned that upgrading a custom Classic app results in two versions of the app: the Lightning app version and the original Classic app version? Having separate versions of the same app means you can maintain them independently, applying Lightning Experience options without impacting your Classic users, and making changes for your Classic users that aren’t needed in Lightning Experience. For simplicity, you can use the Lightning Experience App Manager as the central hub for managing both versions.

After upgrading the custom Inside Sales app, both the Classic and Lightning versions are available in the App Manager. Notice that only the Lightning app version is included in Lightning Experience.

As for your users, after you upgrade a custom Classic app, the new Lightning app replaces the Classic version in the Lightning Experience App Launcher. Back in Salesforce Classic, the Classic app is still available in the app menu. But given the flexibility and benefits of Lightning apps, we predict your Classic users will be anxiously awaiting their move to Lightning Experience.

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