Salesforce Lightning Update
A year after Salesforce’s “Lightning Experience” announcement at Dreamforce 2015, it’s fair to say that the platform has come a long way. With each release following the announcement right up to the latest, Winter ‘17, Lightning Experience has been packed with more and more features.

Following the Winter ‘17 release, we are able to report on a host of new and exciting features. Some of these have arrived on the Lightning platform in the latest release, and some we can look forward to in future. In this quick overview, it’s time to discuss some of the new features, as well as those not yet available (Safe Harbour! There are some forward looking statements in this blog post).

Kanban View
Up first - Kanban view. Until now, this view has been available only for Opportunities. However, as a well-received element of Lightning Experience, the feature has been opened up to Leads, Campaigns and Contacts. See the screenshot from Salesforce’s help guides

below:
It is also rumoured that the plan is to expand the Kanban view to custom objects in the Spring release. Great news for Salesforce users with their own staged objects!

Identifying and Merging Leads
Following the introduction of Salesforce’s own duplicate management tool in Spring ‘15, further enhancements to this have been made with the “Potential Duplicates” Panel. The feature, currently available for just Leads, is completely automated and presents potential dupes on the Lead viewing screen, without the need to search! Of course, this is all fully customisable and administrators are able to define what constitutes a match. Salesforce have advised that a similar panel is likely to be available for Accounts and Contacts in Spring ‘17.

Check out the example below:

Clicking “View All” presents each matching Lead:

Comparing the records gives the opportunity to merge:

Lightning Voice
The success of a number of CTI apps within the Salesforce space appears to have lead Salesforce to introduce their own CTI tool earlier in 2016 - Lightning Voice. The Winter ‘17 release allows users to make phone calls with their keyboard or the on-screen dialer, removing the requirement for records to have a phone number associated, as well as granting access to call history and forwarding calls to the sales reps’ mobile phone.

The telephony service is currently available only in America and Canada, however, the UI is available globally and allows the integration of a 3rd party system, should system owners want to retain Salesforce’s own look and feel outside of the NA region. The message from Salesforce during the webinar (forward-looking-statements yada yada!) was to expect expansion of telephony-supported regions in future releases.

Integrated Email
Email improvements are also prevalent in the Winter ‘17 release...

  • Using Enhanced Email, emails can be sent straight from Salesforce and appear in your outbox in Office365 & Gmail
  • Lightning for Outlook brings further customisation to the Salesforce user experience within Outlook and allows components to be swapped in and out, depending on user needs
  • Lightning for Gmail has not been so well catered for just yet, but does provide calendar syncing and (more forward-looking-statements..!), according to the webinar, Gmail users may not have too much longer to wait, as similar Outlook features are planned to be brought to Gmail in the next few releases!

Navigation UI
Anyone currently using Lightning Experience won’t have missed the return of the familiar horizontal navigation bar, no doubt one of the more popular updates this release!
However, a few more UI features have also snuck in;

  • An updated app launcher is now found on the nav bar, allowing easy searching across the two “Apps” and “Items” menus.
  • Each object now in the nav menu has a shortcut menu to provide quick access to key functionality and lists.
  • It’s also now possible to brand each individual app - handy, no doubt, for a bit of managed package branding!

Additional Features in Winter ‘17

  • A heavily requested month view is now available for the calendar in Lightning Experience
  • Mass actions on list views previously only available in Classic are now available in Lightning Experience

  • The option to specify an app as a “Classic App” has now been provided. Whilst all existing apps appear in both Lightning Experience and classic, creating a new classic app will need to have the “Show in Lightning Experience” option selected.

  • It is also possible, from the Lightning app manager, to upgrade an app from classic to Lightning. The result of which gives 2 available apps:

  • This allows administrators to customise the apps individually. Meaning any tabs which might be fully functional in Classic and not Lightning (or vice versa!), can be easily removed from one app, without impacting the other.
  • Record pages can now be customised on a “Per App” basis. This feature has been long awaited by many users and admins and allows layouts to be specified based on app, record type and profile, for more precise control over content.
  • Tooltips have now been enabled on Lightning Experience record pages, granting access to the admin’s field level hints & tips

Additional Features on the Horizon

  • Updates to the navigation menu in Salesforce1, as well as further record page customisation
  • Plans for Summer ‘17 to release a “Component Builder” with integrated documentation, component library and “Guided Experiences” - interested to learn more about these!
  • Summer ‘17 will also introduce testing tools for JavaScript and support the creation of testing suites
  • Dynamic Lightning pages are being piloted in the Spring ‘17 release, granting app builders the ability to only render sections on certain conditions. See the sneak preview below:

Summary
It’s great to see so many features being bundled into each release and we at BrightGen have already found a use for many of the new additions to the platform. I’m excited to see what’s next on the Lightning roadmap and will definitely be tuning into these Lightning sessions again in future, for a sneak peak into what awaits!

Mike Holt is a Consultant at BrightGen - follow him on twitter @salesforcemicky