Andy in the Cloud

From BBC Basic to Force.com and beyond…


Leave a comment

The Third Edition

bookI’m proud to announce the third edition of my book has now been released. Back in March this year I took the plunge start updates to many key areas and add two brand new chapters. Between the 2 years and 8 months since the last edition there has been several platform releases and an increasing number of new features and innovations that made this the biggest update ever! This edition also embraces the platforms rebranding to Lightning, hence the book is now entitled Salesforce Lightning Platform Enterprise Architecture.

You can purchase this book direct from Packt or of course from Amazon among other sellers.  As is the case every year Salesforce events such as Dreamforce and TrailheaDX this book and many other awesome publications will be on sale. Here are some of the key update highlights:

  • Automation and Tooling Updates
    Throughout the book SFDX CLI, Visual Studio Code and 2nd Generation Packaging are leverage. While the whole book is certainly larger, certain chapters of the book actually reduced in size as steps previously reflecting clicks where replaced with CLI commands! At one point in time I was quite a master in Ant Scripts and Marcos, they have also given way to built in SFDX commands.
  • User Interface Updates
    Lightning Web Components is a relative new kid on the block, but benefits greatly from its standards compliance, meaning there is plenty of fun to go around exploring industry tools like Jest in the Unit Testing chapter. All of the books components have been re-written to the Web Component standard.
  • Big Data and Async Programming
    Big data was once a future concern for new products, these days it is very much a concern from the very start. The book covers Big Objects and Platform Events more extensibility with worked examples, including ingest and calculations driven by Platform Events and Async Apex Triggers. Event Driven Architecture is something every Lightning developer should be embracing as the platform continues to evolve around more and more standard platforms and features that leverage them.
  • Integration and Extensibility
    A particularly enjoyed exploring the use of Platform Events as another means by which you can expose API’s from your packages to support more scalable invocation of your logic and asynchronous plugins.
  • External Integrations and AI
    External integrations with other cloud services are a key part to application development and also the implementation of your solution, thus one of two brand new chapters focuses on Connected Apps, Named Credentials, External Services and External Objects, with worked examples of existing services or sample Heroku based services. Einstein has an ever growing surface area across Salesforce products and the platform. While this topic alone is worth an entire book, I took the time in the second new chapter, to enumerate Einstein from the perspective of the developer and customer configurations. The Formula1 motor racing theme continued with the ingest of historic race data that you can run AI over.
  • Other Updates
    Among other updates is a fairly extensive update to the CI/CD chapter which still covers Jenkins, but leverages the new Jenkins Pipeline feature to integrate SFDX CLI. The Unit Testing chapter has also been extended with further thoughts on unit vs integration testing and a focus on Lightening Web Component testing.

The above is just highlights for this third edition, you can see a full table of contents here. A massive thanks to everyone involving for providing the inspiration and support for making this third edition happen! Enjoy!


6 Comments

Adding User Feedback to your Package

featurefeedbackFeature Management has become GA in Winter’18 and with it the ability to have finer control and visibility over how users of your package consume its functionality. It provides an Apex API and corresponding objects in your License Management Org (LMO). With these objects, you can switch features on and off or even extend the capacity or duration of existing ones. For features that you simply want to monitor adoption on you can also track adoption and send metrics back to your LMO as well. This is all done within the platform, no HTTP callouts are required.

This blog focuses on a tracking and metrics use case and presents a Lightning Component to allow users to activate a given feature and after that contribute to an aggregated scoring of that feature sent back to you the package owner!

Consider this scenario. The latest Widgets App package has added a new feature to its Widgets Overview tab. The ability to analyze widgets! Using Feature Management they can now track who activates this feature and ratings their customers give it.

featureactivate

Trying it Out: You can find the full source code for this sample app and component here. You can also easily give it a try via the handy Deploy to SFDX button! Do not worry though, it will not write back to your production org, it’s totally isolated in this mode. Unless you choose to package it up and associate your LMA etc.

withoutmanagefeatures.pngYour customers may not want every user to have the ability to activate and deactivate features as shown above. The sample application associated with this blog includes a Manage Featurescustom permission that controls this ability. Users without this custom permission assigned only see the feedback portion of the component. If the feature has not been activated a message is displayed informing the user to consult with their admin.

The component only sends the average score per feature per customer back to you. However, a user’s individual score is captured in the subscriber org via custom objects. Enabling you to pick up the phone and dig a bit deeper together with customers showing particularly low or high scores.

featureadoption.png

The following shows what you get back in your License Management Org LMO (typically your companies production org). By using standard reporting you can easily see what features have been activated, their average score and how many users contributed to the rating.

featurereport

NOTE: The average score returned to the production org is represented as a value from 1 to 50.

So let’s now dig into the code and the architecture of this solution. Firstly we need some feature parameters, then some corresponding Apex API to read and write to them. You define the parameters via XML under the/featureParameters folder.

FeatureParam

NOTE: In this blog, we are dealing with parameter values that flow from your customers org back into your production org, hence the SubscriberToLmo usage. Also keep in mind that per the docs, updates to your LMO may take up to 24 hrs.

You can also create package feature parameters via a new tab on the Package Details page in your packaging org. However, if you are using Scratch Orgs you define them via metadata directly. The Feedback component needs you to define three parameters per feature. To support our scenario, the following parameters are defined. WidgetAnalysis (Boolean), WidgetAnalysisCount (Integer), and WidgetAnalysisScore (Integer).

featuremanagementapi

NOTE: When your code sets parameter values, mixed DML rules apply. So typically you would set these via an async context such as @future or a queueable.

To use the Feedback Component included in the sample code for this blog, you set two attributes, the name of your feature parameter and an attribute that the rest of your component code can use to conditionally display your new feature! The following shows how in the above scenario, the new Widget Analysis component has used c:featureFeedback component to activate the feature, get a user rating and control the display of the new graph to the user.

feedbackcomponent.png

Take a deeper look at the Feature Feedback Component Apex controller to see the above Feature Management API in action, as well as how it aggregates the scores.

Back over in your License Management Org, the above report was based on one of the four new custom objects provided by a Salesforce package. The Feature Parameter object represents the package parameters defined above. The Feature Parameter Date, Feature Parameter Integer, and Feature Parameter Boolean are the values set via code running in the subscriber org associated with the License record. Per the documentation, it can take up to 24hrs for these to update.

featureparamsschema

Summary

Knowing more about how your customers consume applications you build on the platform is a big part of customer success and your own. You should also check out the Usage Metrics feature if you have not already.

There is a quite a bit more to Feature Management to explore. Such as controlling feature activation exclusively from your side, useful for pilots or enabling paid features. Of special note is the ability tohide related Custom Objects until features are activated. This is certainly a welcome feature to your customer’s admins when working with large packages since they only see in Object Manager objects relating to activated features.

Finally, I recommend you read the excellent documentation in the ISVForce guide very carefully before going ahead and trying this out in your main package. Since this feature integrates with your live production data. The documentation recommends to try this out in a temporary package first and discuss rollout with your legal team.

P.S. You can also use the FeatureManagement.checkPermission method to check if the user has been assigned a given custom permission without SOQL. Very useful!