Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re talking to Alex Edelstein, Senior Director of Product Management at Salesforce, to find out about the features his automation team is delivering for Spring ’18. For February and March, we are setting our sights on productivity with a series of topics to help you focus on being a productive Admin and how you can deliver productivity to your users.
Join us as Alex Edelstein tells us about the incredible new flow and automation features coming in Spring 18, including components for flow screens and more.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Alex Edelstein.
The year of flow.
Alex and his team work on some amazing automation products like Process Builder. There’s a lot coming with the Spring ‘18 release, as Alex says, “I think 2018 is going to be one of the most momentous years for flow.”
Lightning Flow is a combination of process automation and workflow, and soon it’ll be connected with Lightning components, opening up a whole new world of possibilities. It’s now possible to take components and put them in your flow screens, so you can use things like the date time picker and other visual components and optimize them for flow.
How components and flow got together.
“We have a lot of flow users in our community who have been asking for more from our screen designer,” Alex says. People wanted to be able to do things like dynamic questions, or plugin tables or other graphical elements. Until now, their solution was to build a custom flow version, “but one of the big promises and potentials of the whole Lightning component concept is that it makes it really easy for one person to write something as a component and then a lot of people to use it without having to write any code.”
Once Alex and his team took a closer look, they saw a bunch of ways to improve flow screens in a way that didn’t require the Admin building the flow to need to know any code themselves. From there, “we realized we needed to get on the Lightning component train” and incorporate that into what they were doing.
Other new features for flows.
There’s a lot more of cool things coming to flow beyond components. “We’ve added a number of new ways to control flows,” Alex says, you can put a pause button so the user can resume the flow at a later date, or even use a handoff to let someone else complete the flow.
There is also a new way to deploy flows, you can basically hook up a quick action to a flow and insert flow buttons into all of your pages. “Any specific flow that you’ve found works for your organization you can put right where it’s most convenient to use it,” Alex says. “We think that flow is the hidden jewel of Salesforce,” because “it’s essentially an application creation environment, it’s a way you can build applications without writing any code that go far beyond what you’ve been able to do before.”
Even more amazing flow superpowers coming soon.
Finally, there’s a new kind of flow action called local flow actions, “they’re sort of cousins to the flow screen components.” They both use and take advantage of the power of Lightning Components, but what flow action does is turns a Lightning Component into a standalone flow element that you can drag from your palette into a flow. What this does is enable someone to write a custom flow action for their org based on components, without code.
Another thing that flow actions opens up is direct data queries. “It’s a unique new ability that we give the flow to make a database query directly to on-premise data or private cloud data,” Alex says. Traditionally, accessing that enterprise data involved Salesforce going through an opening in your external firewall, which created a lot of security headaches. Instead, you can connect directly to something like an Oracle database and put that data right into your flow. As Alex puts it, “we’re all about integration without having to write code.”
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