Andy in the Cloud

From BBC Basic to and beyond…


Calling Flow from Apex

Since Summer’14 it has been possible to invoke a Flow from Apex, through the oddly named Interview system class method start. This blog talks about using this as a means to provide an extensibility mechanism, as an alternative option to asking an Apex developer to implement an Apex interface you’ve exposed. Clicks not code plugins!

Prior to Summer’14 it was only possible to embed a Flow in a Visualforce page, using the the flow:interview component, as described here. But this of course required a UI and hence user interaction to drive it. What if you wanted to allow admins to extend or customise the flow of some Apex logic using Flow from a none UI context?

Enter trigger ready-flows, first introduced as part of the Summer’14 pilot for running Flow from Workflow, which itself is still in Pilot, thought the ability to create trigger ready-flows is now generally available, yipee! Here’s what the docs have to say about them…

You can also build trigger-ready flows. A trigger-ready flow is a flow that can be launched without user interaction, such as from a flow trigger workflow action or the Apex interview.start method. Because trigger-ready flows must be able to run in bulk and without user interaction, they can’t contain steps, screens, choices, or dynamic choices in the active flow version—or the latest flow version, if there’s no active version.

This blog will present the following three examples of calling trigger-ready flows from Apex.

  • Hello World, returning a text value set in a Flow
  • Calc, shows passing in values to a Flow and returning the result of some processing.
  • Record Updater, shows passing in some SObject records to the Flow for processing and returning them.

Hello World Example

Here is a simple example that invokes a Flow that just returns a string value defined within the Flow.



The following Apex code calls the above Flow and outputs to the Debug log.

// Call the Flow
Map<String, Object> params = new Map<String, Object>();
Flow.Interview.ReturnHelloWorld helloWorldFlow = new Flow.Interview.ReturnHelloWorld(params);

// Obtain the results
String returnValue = (String) helloWorldFlow.getVariableValue('ReturnValue');
System.debug('Flow returned ' + returnValue);

This outputs the following to the Debug log…

11:18:02.684 (684085568)|USER_DEBUG|[13]|DEBUG|Flow returned Hello from the Flow World!

Calc Example

This example passes in a value, which is manipulated by the Flow and returned.

CalcFlow CalcFlowAssignment

The following code invokes this Flow, by passing the X and Y values in through the Map.

// Call the Flow
Map<String, Object> params = new Map<String, Object>();
params.put('X', 10);
params.put('Y', 5);
Flow.Interview.Calc calcFlow = new Flow.Interview.Calc(params);

// Obtain the results
Double returnValue = (Double) calcFlow.getVariableValue('ReturnValue');
System.debug('Flow returned ' + returnValue);

This outputs the following to the Debug log…

12:09:55.190 (190275787)|USER_DEBUG|[24]|DEBUG|Flow returned 15.0

Record Updater Example

With the new SObject and SObject Collection types in Summer’14 we can also pass in SObject’s. For example to apply some custom defaulting logic before the records are processed and inserted by the Apex logic. The following simple Flow loops over the records passed in and sets the Description field.


This code constructs a list of Accounts, passes them to the Flow and retrieves the updated list after.

// List of records
List<Account> accounts = new List<Account>{
	new Account(Name = 'Account A'),
	new Account(Name = 'Account B') };

// Call the Flow
Map<String, Object> params = new Map<String, Object>();
params.put('Accounts', accounts);
Flow.Interview.RecordUpdater recordUpdaterFlow = new Flow.Interview.RecordUpdater(params);

// Obtain results
List<Account> updatedAccounts =
	(List<Account>) recordUpdaterFlow.getVariableValue('Accounts');
for(Account account : updatedAccounts)
	System.debug(account.Name + ' ' + account.Description);

The follow debug update shows the field values set by the Apex code and those by the Flow…

13:10:31.060 (60546122)|USER_DEBUG|[39]|DEBUG|Account A Description set by Flow
13:10:31.060 (60588163)|USER_DEBUG|[39]|DEBUG|Account B Description set by Flow


Calling Flows from Apex is quite powerful to provide more complex extensibility back into the hands of admins vs developers. Though depending on your type of solution is somewhat hampered by the lack of the ability to dynamically create a subscriber configured Flow. As such for now is really only useful for none packaged Apex code deployments in production environment, where the referenced Flow’s can be edited (managed packaged Flows cannot be edited).

Despite this, for custom Apex code deployments to production it is quite powerful as it allows tweaks to the behaviour of solutions to be made without needing a developer to go through Sandbox and redeployment etc. Of course your also putting a lot of confidence in the person defining the Flows as well, so use this combo wisely with your customers!

Upvote: I’ve raised an Idea here to allow Apex to Dynamically create Flow Interview instances, with this in place ISV and packaged applications can make more use of this facility to provide clicks not code extensibility to their packaged application logic.

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Super ListView Viewer using Winter’15 ListView API

Salesforce continues its drive to push out great platform API’s, while Winter’15 was a little lighter than usual, the List View API did catch my eye! It’s available currently in SOAP and REST flavours, sadly as yet no Apex, though I’ve seen Salesforce follow up in later releases with Apex support, so fingers crossed! This omission didn’t stop me exploring the REST variant via Visualforce and JQuery!

I’ve written a few applications that leverage List Views to provide a readily available filter criteria for various uses. One approach used the StandardSetController in Apex (via the setFilterId method) and another by reading the object definition (using Metadata API), parsing the List View definition and building my own SOQL query! This later strategy can now be replaced with the new List View API, as amongst giving you the List View definition and the records behind it, you also get hold of the SOQL query Salesforce uses as well!

The REST API version provides the following resources to call..

  • /services/data/v32.0/sobjects/Account/listviews – Lists the List Views associated with the object and their Id’s (click the link to try it out in Developer Workbench!). Documentation here.
  • /services/data/v32.0/sobjects/Account/listviews/{Id}/describe – Returns the definition of the List View and the SOQL! Documentation here.
  • /services/data/v32.0/sobjects/Account/listviews/{Id}/results – Returns the column definitions of the List View and the records it returns. Documentation here.

While exploring the SOQL used by ListViews, i noticed something i had not seen before in the SOQL syntax, the USING SCOPE clause, also new to Winter’15. Recently View Accounts and My Accounts views leverage this new clause…

SELECT name, site, billingstate, phone, tolabel(type), 
  owner.alias, id, createddate, lastmodifieddate, systemmodstamp 
FROM Account 

The above shows ‘mru’ and the following example shows ‘mine’…

SELECT name, site, billingstate, phone, tolabel(type), 
  owner.alias, id, createddate, lastmodifieddate, systemmodstamp 
FROM Account 

The documentation is a bit weak presently on the other values, this knowledge base article, lists Everything, Mine, Queue, Delegated, MyTerritory, MyTeamTerritory or Team, but not MRU at present.

So to give these API’s a better shake down i decided to flex my JavaScript side this time, knowing that its possible to call these API’s from the Visualforce Domain without issue, its a matter of making a JavaScript call and interpreting the results. Thus Super ListView Viewer was born! With a little help from the frankly amazing JQuery plugin known as DataTable, which replicates as far as I can see the standard List View UI and then some!

This page allows you to select any object and if it has associated List View’s view them!


JQuery provices some excellent AJAX support, this code reads the SOQL query and displays it on the page…

// List View describe to take a look at the SOQL!
	url : '/services/data/v32.0/sobjects/' + objectName + '/listviews/' + listViewId + '/describe', 
	headers : { 'Authorization' : 'Bearer {!$Api.Session_ID}' },
	datatype : 'json', 
	success : function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {					

This code builds a regular HTML table and then in a single line turns it into the amazing DataTable, I was quite amazed when i added this library, seriously cool!

// Call the List View API to get the results (also includes column definitions)
	url : '/services/data/v32.0/sobjects/' + objectName + '/listviews/' + listViewId + '/results', 
	headers : { 'Authorization' : 'Bearer {!$Api.Session_ID}' },
	datatype : 'json', 
	success : function(data, textStatus, jqXHR) {					

		// Clear current List View info

		// Create the table and add columns
		var table = $('<table></table>');
		var thead = $('<thead></thead>');
		var theadtr = $('<tr></tr>');					
		$.each(data.columns, function(index, column) {
				theadtr.append($('<th>' + column.label + '</th>'));

		// Add the rows
		var tbody = $('<tbody></tbody>');
		$.each(data.records, function(rowIndex, record) {
			var tbodytr = $('<tr></tr>');					
			$.each(record.columns, function(colIndex, column) {
					tbodytr.append($('<td>' +
					 (record.columns[colIndex].value!=null ? 
					  record.columns[colIndex].value : '') + '</td>'));

		// Enhance this boring old HTML table with JQuery DataTable!
		var dataTable = table.DataTable();

You can find the full source code for this here. Of course if you had need to call this API from Apex, you can make an outbound HTTP callout, after having set up the Remote Site to allow Salesforce to call itself…



Preview of Advanced Apex Enterprise Patterns Session

At this years Dreamforce i will be presenting not one, but two sessions on Apex Enterprise Patterns this year. The first will be re-run of last years session, Apex Enterprise Patterns : Building Strong Foundations. The second will be a follow on session dealing with more advanced topics around the patterns. Imaginatively entitled Advanced Apex Enterprise Patterns. The current abstract for this session is as follows…

Complex code can easily get out of hand without good design, so in this deep dive you will better understand how to apply the advanced design patterns used by highly experienced Salesforce developers. Starting with Interface & Base Class examples of OO design we quickly move on to new design features including: Application Factory, Field Level Security Support, Selector FieldSet support and Dependency Injection, Mock Testing of Services, Domain and Selector layers.​ By the end you will have a better understanding of how and when to apply these advanced Apex patterns.

If you attended the DevTalk in June this year, you will have got a sneak peak of some of the improvements being made to the supporting library for the patterns available in this repo. If you didn’t you’ll have to wait till Dreamforce! Oh go on then, i’ll give you a teaser here…

  • Introduction
  • Selector Enhancements, FieldSet and QueryFactory Support
  • Application Factory Introduction
  • Using Apex Interfaces to implement Common Service Layer Functionality
  • Introducing ApexMocks
  • Using ApexMocks with Service, Selector and Domain Layers
  • Field Level Security Experiment
  • Q&A 

I’m quite excited about all this content, but perhaps if pushed, i’d have to highlight the new Application Factory concept along with the integration with the exciting new ApexMocks library (also from R&D). This brings with it easier support for implementing polymorphic use cases in your application and the ability to mock layers of the patterns, such as Unit Of Work, Domain, Selector and Service layers. Allowing to develop true unit tests that are fast to execute by the platform and plentiful in terms of the variation of tests you’ll be able to develop without fear of extending the time your sat waiting for tests to execute!

Its is against my nature to publish a blog without a code sample in it, so i’ll leave you to ponder the following….

	public void applyDiscounts(Set<ID> opportunityIds, Decimal discountPercentage)
		// Create unit of work to capture work and commit it under one transaction
	    fflib_ISObjectUnitOfWork uow = Application.UnitOfWork.newInstance();

		// Query Opportunities
		List<Opportunity> oppRecords =

		// Apply discount via Opportunties domain class behaviour
		IOpportunities opps = Opportunities.newInstance(oppRecords);
		opps.applyDiscount(discountPercentage, uow);

		// Commit updates to opportunities

Here is a more generic service layer example, leveraging polymorphic Domain classes!

	public void generate(Set<Id> sourceRecordIds)
		// Create unit of work to capture work and commit it under one transaction
		fflib_ISObjectUnitOfWork uow = Application.UnitOfWork.newInstance();

		// Invoicing Factory helps domain classes produce invoices
		InvoicingService.InvoiceFactory invoiceFactory = new InvoicingService.InvoiceFactory(uow);

		// Construct domain class capabile of performing invoicing
		fflib_ISObjectDomain domain =
		if(domain instanceof InvoicingService.ISupportInvoicing)
			// Ask the domain object to generate its invoices
			InvoicingService.ISupportInvoicing invoicing = (InvoicingService.ISupportInvoicing) domain;
			// Commit generated invoices to the database

		// Related Domain object does not support the ability to generate invoices
		throw new fflib_Application.ApplicationException('Invalid source object for generating invoices.');

This last example shows how ApexMocks has been integrated into Application Factory concept via the setMock methods. The following is true test of only the service layer logic, by mocking the unit of work, domain and selector layers.

	private static void callingServiceShouldCallSelectorApplyDiscountInDomainAndCommit()
		// Create mocks
		fflib_ApexMocks mocks = new fflib_ApexMocks();
		fflib_ISObjectUnitOfWork uowMock = new fflib_SObjectMocks.SObjectUnitOfWork(mocks);
		IOpportunities domainMock = new Mocks.Opportunities(mocks);
		IOpportunitiesSelector selectorMock = new Mocks.OpportunitiesSelector(mocks);

		// Given
		List<Opportunity> testOppsList = new List<Opportunity> {
			new Opportunity(
				Id = fflib_IDGenerator.generate(Opportunity.SObjectType),
				Name = 'Test Opportunity',
				StageName = 'Open',
				Amount = 1000,
				CloseDate = };
		Set<Id> testOppsSet = new Map<Id, Opportunity>(testOppsList).keySet();
		Decimal discountPercent = 10;

		// When
		OpportunitiesService.applyDiscounts(testOppsSet, discountPercent);

		// Then
			mocks.verify(domainMock)).applyDiscount(discountPercent, uowMock);
			mocks.verify(uowMock, 1)).commitWork();

All these examples will be available in the sample application repo once i’ve completed the prep for the session in a few weeks time.

Sadly the session on ApexMocks was not selected for Dreamforce 2014, however not to worry! will be hosting a DevTalk event during Dreamforce week where Jesse Altman will be standing in for the library author Paul Hardaker (get well soon Paul!), book your place now!

Finally, if you have been using the patterns for a while and have a question you want to ask in this session, please feel free to drop your idea into the comments box below this blog post!

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Doing more work with the Unit Of Work

In a previous post I introduced the Unit Of Work class, which is part of the Apex Enterprise Patterns series. As the original post describes it helps you simplify your code when it comes to performing multiple DML statements over related objects, as well as providing a bulkification and transaction management. In this post i would like to share information on a new feature that adds some extensibility to the fflib_SObjectUnitOfWork class.

This new feature addresses use cases where the work you want it to do, does not fit with the use of the existing registerDirty, registerNew or registerDeleted methods. But you do want that work to only be performed during the commitWork method, along with other registered work and within thesame transaction it manages.

Some examples of such situations are…

  • Sending Emails
    You want to register the sending an email once the work has completed and have that email only be sent if the entire unit of work completes.
  • Upsert
    You want to perform an upsert operation along with other insert, update and delete operations performed by the existing functionality.
  • Database class methods
    You want to utilise the Database class methods for additional functionality and/or granularity on some database operations, e.g. emptyRecycleBin, convertToLead, or perform an insert with allOrNothing set to false.
  • Self referencing objects
    You want to perform DML work relating to self referencing objects, something which is currently not supported by the registerNew and registerRelationship methods.
  • Nested Unit Of Works
    Though generally not recommended, if you do happen to have created another fflib_SObjectUnitOfWork instance, you might want to nest another unit of work instance commitWork call with another.

In these cases the class now contains a new Apex Interface, called IDoWork, it is an incredibly simple interface!

* Interface describes work to be performed during the commitWork method
public interface IDoWork
   void doWork();

To use this interface you implement it and register an instance of the implementing class through the new registerWork method. When the commitWork method is called it will callback on the doWork method for each registered implementations once it has completed the work given to it by the existing methods. In other words after all the DML on the dirty, new or deleted records have been processed.

A SendEmailWork implementation of this interface actually resides internally within the fflib_SObjectUnitOfWork class and is used to support another new method called, registerEmail. I added this to experiment with the feature during development but felt its worth leaving in as an added bonus feature if your writing code thats doing DML and sending emails!

The following example integrates the upsert method on the Database class (which needs a concreate SObject list), but you can really do anything you want in the doWork method!

	public class UpsertUnitOfWorkHelper implements fflib_SObjectUnitOfWork.IDoWork
		public Database.UpsertResult[] Results {get; private set;}
		private List<Account> m_records;
		public UpsertUnitOfWorkHelper()
			m_records = new List<Account>();
		public void registerAccountUpsert(Account record)
		public void doWork()
			Results = Database.upsert(m_records, false);				

The following is an example of this in use…

		// Create Unit Of Work as normal
		fflib_SObjectUnitOfWork uow =
			new fflib_SObjectUnitOfWork( 
				new Schema.SObjectType[] { 
					OpportunityLineItem.SObjectType });
		// Register some custom work
		UpsertUnitOfWorkHelper myUpsertWork = new UpsertUnitOfWorkHelper();
		// Do standard work via...		
		// uow.registerNew(...)
		// uow.registerDeleted(...)
		// uow.registerDirty(...)
		// Register some custom work via...
		// Commit work as normal
		// Optionally, determine the results of the custom work...
		List<Database.UpsertResult> myUpsertResults = myUpsertWork.Results;		

In summary, the unit of work helps co-ordinate many things we do that in essence are part of a transaction of work we want to happen as a single unit. This enhancement helps integrate other “work” items your code might have been performing outside the unit of work into that single unit of work and transaction. It also helps bridge some gaps in the unit of work that exist today such as self referencing objects.

Please let me know your thoughts on this new feature and how you see yourself using it!


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