In the Summer time…

Summer ’14 – a distant memory…

When Salesforce Summer ‘14 hit the streets, after some delay, it certainly packed some great new features – social and gamification capabilities such as reputation tracking, improved email and attachments handling, plus a host of further improvements to core CRM capabilities and the Salesforce1 user experience.

Please Release Me…

This was a big release, with a weighty 300+ pages of release notes – and there were also a few little surprises in store. I can’t help thinking that one particular announcement, nestling stealthily about two thirds of the way through, might have hit some customers and partners hard. It concerned ‘improvements’ for Home Page Components – the sidebar to you and I.

These Components can include such things as images (company logos, process maps etc.), lists of useful hyperlinks or even (as of Summer ‘14) embedded Visualforce pages. There is also an ‘HTML Area’ Component type, allowing the more technical user to create advanced customisations using any desired web markup. Traditionally, this could include JavaScript, making it possible to manipulate the Salesforce page and / or respond to user actions automatically. However, Summer ’14 introduced a ‘New Rich Text Editor for HTML Area Home Page Components’ which, whilst potentially a very useful thing, also prevents customisations like local custom mark-up – no JavaScript!

…and furthermore from Summer ‘15 onwards, any existing pre-existing customisations involving scripts will simply cease to function.  Ouch!!

 

page of coding

 

Testing Times…

Salesforce have good reasons for making this change – JavaScript in the wrong hands (even well-intentioned ones) can make for security issues, and that’s a major concern for a company that rightly prides itself on being ‘the platform’ for robust, scalable apps. Moreover, Salesforce gave plenty of warning that this move was coming, including, as ever, pre-release sandbox environments to allow customers to test their configuration tweaks considerably in advance of go-live.

Nonetheless, this particular enhancement seems to have caused a frisson of concern in the ecosystem. In the weeks leading up to Summer ‘14 go-live, Improved Apps were contacted by a number of customers and fellow partners who were worried about the implications for their customised orgs, their investments in third party apps and their own products. Others, like ourselves, had the ‘horizon-watching’ processes in place to enable strategic decision months ago to eliminate any risks for apps, customers and users by providing an upgrade path.

Feel the fear – and change anyway

I’d be being less than honest, however, if I said that all was calm at ‘Improved Apps Towers’ when we first became aware of this change – we were concerned that an approach we previously relied upon to deliver the features that our customers had come to know and love was to vanish… But after a few stiff coffees and some intense product team white-boarding sessions later, all was well with the world. Indeed dispensing with ‘sidebar injection’ is actually a great thing – one fewer technology sets to maintain and tighter fit with our ‘100% native’ strategy that makes our products stand out.

The only constant is change…

A common thread we hear from people in Salesforce customer and partner organisations is that the forced pace of Salesforce innovation can be somewhat irritating and disruptive – which is why our products are designed to help manage change and buffer end-users and business specialists from what’s happening ‘under the water’. The Improved Apps team also appreciate that no matter how precious the intellectual assets you build, you must constantly refine or totally reconstruct them, in the ever-changing world of technology.

So, whilst we continue to support the sidebar for our installed base, our roadmap will take our customers on a journey to a post-Summer ’15 world without sidebar components relying on JavaScript.

All’s well that ends well…

And, as our team embarks for Dreamforce ’14 we can only wonder what Salesforce announcements will bring for Winter ’15 and beyond. We’ll be watching the horizon closely – will you?