Spring’ 21 Summary: Favourite Updates

It feels like 5 minutes since Winter ’21 and now we’re talking about Spring ’21!

On the 18th of December, Salesforce released the Preview of the Release Notes. The following summarises some of the features which grabbed my attention. This is not exhaustive. Equally, this is based on a ‘Preview’; features are still subject to change. The outline of this is as follows:

Table of Contents

Please feel free to share or add anything which captured your imagination. Let’s get started!

Background: What/When is Spring '21?

Each year, Salesforce has three release cycles, Spring, Summer and Winter. Each release introduces many new innovations. These updates are made available to all customers, automatically. 

The schedule of major release cycles are available on the Salesforce Trust Site. To see the dates for your Salesforce system (Org), you can search for your Instance’s or Domain’s maintenance schedule. If you do not know how to find this, please follow the steps in this knowledge article. 

Salesforce staggers the release. This gives everyone time to look at the release, understand what is in it and assess what the release will mean for you (e.g. new opportunities, maintenance etc). Whilst precise dates for Spring’ 21 do vary depending on your Org, the key dates are as follows:

Detail

Date

Pre-Release Org
Available

10/12/2020

Preview Release Notes

18/12/2020

Preview Sandbox
Upgrade

08/01/2021 – 09/01/2021

Rollout of Spring ’21

12/02/2021 – 13/02/2020

You can register for a free Preview org here: https://www.salesforce.com/form/signup/prerelease-spring21/. Additionally, check out this Salesforce Admins guide to help with preparing for the Spring ’21 Release

Reports: Multi-Field Selection

Sometimes the little things can make a big difference. In Spring ’21, we are now able to select and add multiple fields to a report at once. This has the potential to save Admins and End-Users quite a lot of time when building Reports! Detail here

Winter ’21

Winter '21 - only able to select a single Report field at once
Winter ’21 – able to select a single Report field at once

Spring ’21

Spring '21 - able to select multiple columns at once
Spring ’21 – able to select multiple columns at once

Dashboards: URL Filter Parameters

Dashboard filters are a great feature. They help us avoid having to create multiple Dashboards, which only have filter differences. However, filters still require user involvement/updating. In Spring ’21, we will be able to pass values into our URLs. In other words, it allows us to prefill the filters (here). 

For example, let’s say we have a sample Dashboard called ‘SFDC Penguin Sample Dashboard’ which has the following filters:

Screenshot of a Dashboard Filter
Screenshot of a Dashboard Filter

We are now able to pass in filter values to the URL. The below shows a sample URL with placeholders in bold italics. Substitute the bold italic values to suit your needs.  

https://Your MyDomain.lightning.force.com/lightning/r/Dashboard/Your Dashboard ID/view?queryScope=userFolders&fv0=Insert Filter value 

For my example above, it is (with placeholders still in place):
https://Your MyDomain.lightning.force.com/lightning/r/Dashboard/Your Dashboard ID/view?queryScope=userFolders&fv0=Richard%20Pomeroy
 
When the Dashboard loads, the filter is successfully applied. 
 
Screenshot of a prefilled Dashboard Filter, populated by a URL parameter
Screenshot of a prefilled Dashboard Filter, populated by a URL parameter
 
You can add additional filters to the URL (bearing in mind a Dashboard can have a maximum of 3 filters): https://Your MyDomain.lightning.force.com/lightning/r/Dashboard/Your Dashboard ID/view?queryScope=userFolders&fv0=Insert 1st Filter value&&fv1=Insert  2nd Filter value&&fv2=Insert  3rd Filter value
 
NOTE: It is important to take into account URL encoding (i.e. how the URL will handle spaces etc). Refer to the release notes (here) and this article on URL encoding for further guidance

In-App Guidance: Add Images, Snooze, Floating Prompt Controls & Rich-Text

Since its release, In-App Guidance has been one of my favourite features. It has the potential to significantly help adoption. Salesforce has consistently enhanced this feature in recent releases, and Spring ’21 is no exception. Some of the features in Spring ’21 which are noteworthy are:

  1. Ability to add images to In-App Guidance (.jpeg, .jpg, .png or .gif – up to 5MB) (here)
  2. Ability for users to ‘snooze’ In-App guidance by clicking on the clock icon. Users can snooze prompts for 20 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, until tomorrow or until next week (here)
  3. More control over the location of ‘Floating Prompts’ (i.e. addition of ‘Middle Left’, ‘Middle Center’ and ‘Middle Right’)  (here)
  4. Rich-Text in docked Prompts (e.g. hyperlink other resources, underline text, etc) (here)
    Screenshot of In-App Guidance improvements in Spring '21
    Screenshot of In-App Guidance improvements in Spring ’21
Walkthrough (a paid add-on) also has enhancements. In particular, the example provided for ‘Creating a Lead’ looks interesting (here). Such messaging can help instil best practice, adoption and data quality – great aspirations for any org!

Custom Fields: More Help Text!

A nice, simple and greatly appreciated update! Adding Help Text to fields is a very good practice. It helps users orientate themselves and can even help Admins/Developers in future (alongside the Description field of course!). 

In Spring ’21, the character limit of the Help Text field has been increased from 255 to 510 characters (here)! 

Flows: Prior Value, Time-based Monitoring, Scheduled Branches, Debugging and much more!

Prior Value

Lightning Flow Builder (as of Spring ’21 officially called Flow Builder), provides us the ability to see ‘Prior Values’. before the process runs. Access to the ‘Prior Values’ is provided via a new Global Variable called ‘$Record__Prior’. Per the release notes, the $Record__Prior Global variable is available within:

  • Formulas
  • Action Input values
  • Assignment values
  • Decision Outcomes
  • Filters and individual fields (during get, creation, update and delete actions)

Details of this are available here

Screenshot of the $Record__Prior Global Variable
Screenshot of the $Record__Prior Global Variable

 

This has many different use cases. A recent post by Automation Champion explores this in detail and for those interested I would recommend taking a look (here). 

Time-based Monitoring

For a long-time, I have wondered if Salesforce would integrate time-based monitoring of Workflows with that of Process Builder, Flows, etc. In Spring ’21, it appears that they are! The current ‘Time-Based Workflow’ screen will be upgraded to support:

  • Scheduled Path Record Trigger Flows (more on this below)
  • Scheduled Actions on Process Builder
  • Time-based Flows 
  • Workflows (as before – this will continue to show the Object, the others will not)

I feel this is a great step forward. It will help Admins/Developers troubleshoot time-based processes in a single place. Additionally, the ease of ‘filtering’ etc should help to simplify debugging. I am looking forward to seeing this in the release! 

Further Flow & Automation Updates

We’ve been spoilt for choice on Flow/Automation updates in Spring ’21. In truth, covering the updates in Flows alone could have been a single (very long) post! A few of the other features which caught my eye were as follows…this is still far from exhaustive!:

  • Time-triggered branches in a Record-Triggered Flow (here)
    •  It is now possible to add a scheduled branch to a record-triggered flow (e.g. one branch running immediately, one running at a later date). Check out the release notes to see an example of this 
  • Use Lightning Email Templates in Automation (Email Alerts, Flow, Workflow, Process Builder, Approvals, etc) (here)
    • Speaking personally, this is a big deal. Up until now, I have not been able to leverage Lightning Email Templates that much due to this limitation. I am looking forward to seeing what opportunities this will bring!