Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’ve got Vladimir Gerasimov, Senior Manager of Product Management at Salesforce, to find out about custom metadata types that let Admins manage data without coding.

Join us as we talk about how metadata is like a taco, the power of custom metadata types, and how Vlad’s team is bringing that power to Admins.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Vladimir Gerasimov.

Explaining metadata.

“Today we’re going talk, specifically, about how people with low code experience can leverage something that used to be a Developer-only feature,” Vlad says— custom metadata types.

So what is metadata? The way that Vlad likes to describe it is in terms of spreadsheets. “When you have a table of contents there, you have your rows where you actually store the data, and you have the header of the table that says ‘in this cell you will have a last name’ and ‘in this cell you will have a phone number,’ so metadata is something that describes the format of your data, if we were to oversimplify it.” So it could tell you what kind of data to expect, but also how big a text field could be, or the precision on a number in the field.

As Gillian puts it, metadata is “data about the data.” It’s the shell of the proverbial data taco. The thing to realize is that every time you create custom fields or custom objects, you’re creating a metadata container as well.

Custom metadata types and Summer ‘18.

Custom metadata, on the other hand, doesn’t store your business data but rather information about how you operate your app or org. An example would be something that maps area codes to countries, so the custom metadata would say that +01 means the United States, and +07 is Russia. This helps to define how your apps and business logic should be functioning.

The big thing coming for Summer ‘18 is that custom metadata types are going to be more readily available for Admins who don’t have coding skills. “What we’re trying to do is unlock custom metadata tabs in declarative tools,” Vlad says, “so in Summer ‘18 we’ll support custom metadata type records in validation rules.” So if you have the same validation rule across multiple objects, you can just update it in one place to make a change that affects all of your business processes. You can also package it, testing the validation rule in Sandbox and then pushing it to production (and saving a huge amount of time).

Even more amazing Admin powers coming your way.

“The truth is that I learn the cases from customers,” Vlad says, “every time we talk and I think I’ve got it all, someone brings a new idea that’s so cool that I need to bring it to my next talk.” The biggest thing has been trying to shift mindsets. They kept hearing that Admins had kept away from custom metadata because they’re in the Developer tools part of setup, so they don’t explore them.

If you’re jazzed about custom metadata, you can start playing with it in flows. The community has great resources for this, including Jennifer Lee’s blog and a webinar on automation by Cheryl Feldman. The goal is to bring more and more tools to Admins who can use them creatively. In Winter ‘19, stay tuned for declarative ways to use formula fields and default values.

Resources

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