• Emily Malone

Quick Guide: Salesforce FAQs

There’s a fair few frequently asked questions (FAQs) we get around Salesforce, which made us think we should probably put all the answers into one easily-digestible blog post for you. So, we got our Salesforce dude, Mark, on the case. Luckily, he took almost no bribing. Might have to make him a tea now though…

1. What is Salesforce Lightning?

Lightning isn’t one single thing in Salesforce – it’s a collection of new things which bring Salesforce kicking and screaming into the modern age…

2. What is Lightning Experience?

Every few years, the Salesforce user interface is updated and improved.  The latest in this line of updates is called the ‘Lightning Experience’, and it brings with it not just a new UI, but a complete overhaul of how the Salesforce experience works.  Perhaps the biggest change is the move from a traditional multi-page architecture to a single-page application, or SPA for short.  No worries if you’re not sure what the heck this means – in simple terms, it means that when you click on a record, the web browser does not take you to a whole different page.  Instead, only the specific elements of the page that need to be changed are changed, without having to reload the whole thing and download all of the content again.  This is much more efficient and is the way modern web apps like Facebook work.

3. What are Lightning Components?

Lightning Components are the building blocks of the Lightning Experience.  There are Standard Components, such as the Chatter Feed or the Recent Items list, which Salesforce has created, and there are Custom Components, which folks like oe:gen can create, that allow you to extend Salesforce’s capabilities beyond what it can currently do.  Lightning Components can be surfaced in many places; on page layouts, as tabs, as Quick Actions, and even in old-school Visualforce pages, to name a few.

4. What about Tools?

Salesforce has also added the ‘Lightning’ prefix to various tools that let you customize and personalize Salesforce to your liking. One such tool is the Lightning App Builder, which lets you create ‘Apps’ that contain a combination of the standard and custom lightning components detailed above, in the layout of your choosing via a drag and drop interface.  The Lightning App Builder also lets you customize homepage layouts and record detail pages.

5. What’s the Lightning Design System?

The Lightning Design System is only really for the techies amongst us. It’s a framework that lets developers quickly create apps/web pages that share the look and feel of the Lightning Experience.

 6. What are APEX and Visualforce?

  1. APEX is the programming language that Salesforce can be extended with – it’s pretty similar to Java and allows developers like oe:gen to make Salesforce even more powerful than it already is.

  2. A Visualforce page is Salesforce’s version of a HTML document – it allows developers to build completely bespoke user interfaces within Salesforce.  You can use the Lightning Design System described earlier to style a Visualforce page.

7. Is Salesforce mobile friendly?

Yes. Lightning Experience is responsive on tablet and mobile, and there’s also an app called Salesforce1 available from most app stores, which is more feature-rich with every update.

8. Which automation tool should I use for a particular job?

Salesforce gives you a lot of automation tools to choose from; these include Workflow Rules, Process Builder, Visual Flow, Approval Processes and Apex Triggers!  This video is a great place to start when trying to work out which one to use. Another great resource is the Trailhead module on Process Automation.  Process Builder has been improved greatly since its introduction, and the general rule of thumb is that if the requirement can be achieved with Process Builder, use Process Builder.  If your requirements involve complex business logic that can’t easily be distilled into Process Builder criteria, consider getting a developer involved who can create an efficient Apex Trigger.

9. What are the differences between Profiles and Roles?

Users must be assigned a Profile, but assigning them a Role is optional

A Profile controls what a user can do.  This includes;

  1. Which Objects they can see and use like Account, Case and Opportunity

  2. Which Fields within those Objects they can see and edit like Account Name, Case Subject and Opportunity Stage

  3. What Tabs they can see along the navigation bar at the top of Salesforce, or the side of Salesforce1

  4. What special features they can use, like managing Campaigns or creating Knowledge articles.

A Role is a means of automatically or manually sharing access to data.  This includes;

  1. Each Role has a position in the ‘Role Hierarchy’, and there are options in Salesforce that allow the automatic sharing of data “up” that hierarchy.  In basic terms: a user whose Role is at the top of the Role Hierarchy can be granted access to all records owned by users lower in the Role Hierarchy.

  2. Controlling access to Knowledge Data Categories.

10. What is a Community? What is a Portal?

Salesforce Communities are attractive, customizable websites, hosted within Salesforce, which allow you to share your Salesforce data with your customers, partners or internal employees.  For example, a gated Community for Channel Partners wherein they can create Leads that go straight into your Lead queues.  From that point on, they can collaborate with you on progressing those Leads.  Another example would be a self-service Community for your Customers, which allows them to read Knowledge articles, ask questions, view their existing support Cases and submit new ones.  Creating branded, fully tailored Salesforce Communities is something we love to do.

Portals were an older iteration of Communities that are no longer available to new customers.

Have a Quick Guide suggestion? Anything else you want to learn more about? Just let us know in the comments section below!