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Salesforce Spring 17 Features – Communities, Chatter & Files

Spring 17 will be here shortly and the release notes are officially out. This is our final part for our write-up on Spring 17. In our last part we covered all of the Service Cloud features and we started with Sales Cloud in Part 1.

In this part we’ll be covering all of the collaboration features within Salesforce – Communities, Chatter and Files. This is yet another big release for Communities in particular. I think we’re on the fifth straight really big release for Communities and Salesforce is just continually improving the platform and the builder in particular. It’s pretty crazy to think how much it’s changed over the last year and a half. Very exciting.

Before we dive in, I’d be foolish not to mention that we are looking for a new Community Specialist to join the team at Gears. Our Specialist positions get the biggest and most challenging projects in their topic area, and Communities is a big part of what we do at Gears. We’re looking for someone with past experience being a Community Manager, but also hands on experience with Salesforce Communities. Definitely reach out if you’re interested!

Alright let’s get into Spring 17.

  • Chatter Streams – Super cool new feature with the new Chatter Streams. Streams are a new concept that essentially allow each user to combine multiple Chatter Feeds into a single Stream. So imagine you’re a Sales Rep working a fairly complicated Account. You have the Account itself, multiple Opportunities at the Account, maybe even a Case or two for some issues around the POC and then the key Contacts you are dealing with. That’s a lot of records to check and look for updates. Now you can create a Stream where all of the feeds for those records are in a single consolidated feed. Each Stream can have up to 25 records within it and it’s an easy to use interface that any user that leverages Chatter can handle. Users can create up to five Streams each. You need Lightning Experience for this though – yet another reason to make the cut-over for Sales users!
    Chatter Streams
  • New Chatter Home – With the addition of Streams, the Chatter Homepage gets a make-over. Again, this is only in Lightning Experience, but now from Chatter Home you can see any Streams that you’ve created on the left hand navigation. In addition the All Company feed is now changed to “Company Highlights” and some Einstein logic has been embedded here. Now it will show a dynamic list of posts from the entire company for what should represent the Top Posts for the company. Einstein is analyzing what posts have the most activity and making sure the most active posts are up top.
    Chatter Home in Lightning
  • Customizable Groups – Tired of how all of the Groups look exactly the same? Well, now in Lightning Experience that is a thing of the past. You can now use the Lightning App Builder to give each Group its own page layout and include whatever components, actions, publishers and related lists that you’d like. Great new feature to make Groups even more powerful. This doesn’t appear to be available on the Communities side yet, but only in Lighting Experience.
  • Community Workspaces – The managing of Communities has been slowly consolidating over the last few releases and with Community Workspaces we now get a single place to get to all of Community Management needs. From one page administrators can now get to the Builder, Administration, Moderation and Dashboards. This needs to be turned on to use, but definitely a no-brainer to activate.
    Community Workspaces in Spring 17
  • Theme Layouts – A really nice expansion of the Theme Layouts feature. The original feature allowed you to create a Theme Layout that defined the header, footer, navigation, search and the user profile menu. However, this theme was applied across the entire Community. With Spring 17, you can now create multiple Themes and then on each page of the Community select which Theme Layout should be applied. Super handy. Below is an example of how you can have multiple themes.
    Improved Theme Layouts
  • Content Targeting – Now things are starting to get interesting. The new update to Audience Targeting opens up a TON of potential (yes, bold and caps – it’s that big). You could always build out a different Lightning page for each Profile and do some targeting based on user profiles, but with Spring 17, you can now present different pages dynamically based on the Profile of the User, the Record Type and the Location of the user based on their IP address. Now you can start turning your Community into a local based messaging platform instead of just a static Community. In particular I think this is really important for Partner Communities, but Customer Communities can benefit a ton here too. Have an event in Chicago or a user group meeting in Boston that you want to promote locally? Well now you can display the appropriate event to the local audiences and promote your local activity. In addition, the Profile & Record Type combinations allow you to begin messaging based on a user’s role. Do you have Support and Sales users in your community? Well they probably care about different stuff. Target your pages and messaging to their role. Really cool feature that for now is just for pages, but I’m hoping gets extended to components as well and then it’s even more powerful. By the way, in the event of ties, the order of priority to decide the page to present is Profile –> Record Type –> Location.
  • Community Builder Improvements – In addition to the Theme Layouts above there are a bunch of other new features to the Community Builder as well. As I mentioned in the introduction, the Builder just keeps getting stronger and stronger. First, the Builder gets a nice new consolidated look and feel. It’s really tightened up the UI so you have more room to work and you no longer need to switch between different editors. Everything is now included in the new UI. For example, on the new Properties area, you can now create pages, manage page variations and set the layout properties all from the same place. In addition, you can now find and create new Asset Files right from the Community Builder. You can upload images right to the Asset Library and when you’re looking to insert an image into a component, you just need to select it from the library. It will automatically only display images and filter out other file types to streamline the search. Finally, there’s a small but neat new Text Case available. Now you have the option to select “Capitalize” as a Text Case and it will automatically set the text to proper Capitalization – each word with a Capitalized first letter.
    Centralized Page Management
  • Direct Messaging – For Communities based on the Customer Service (Napili) template or the Lightning Bolt solutions, you can now enable Direct Messaging for your members. Members can privately message each other and the message will appear in their My Messages list. Optionally you can add a Messaging Component to allow users to more easily find these. This is a feature you need to enable and it’s worth some thought before just turning it on. Keep in mind, members can flag messages as spam as well, so the direct messaging will be handled with the normal moderation features. That helps control what might be done maliciously with this. If you have a fairly volatile Community where moderation is pretty intense, this probably isn’t something to enable. Otherwise it’s a great tool for your users to connect – and keep in mind, you can use this internally as well. So if a customer posts a sensitive issue in a question, your support agent can reach out with a direct message instead of having to post publicly about it.
    Direct Messaging in Communities
  • Article Collaboration – Knowledge Articles can now support the Feed and Feed Publisher components, which means you can now enable collaboration on Articles for your members. If you do this, you’ll definitely want to make sure someone is monitoring this as it will immediately become a place where members who can’t find the answer they want, start to post their questions.
  • Can You Answer This? – Have an active member base that is constantly answering questions for other members? Now you can guide them to the top unanswered questions and get them addressed with a new Unanswered Questions component. There’s a bit of Einstein in this to identify which posts need the most help and they’ll be displayed in order in the component.
    Unanswered Questions Component
  • Feed Changes – A few updates to the various feeds within the Community. First, in the Customer Service template, the likes bar now shows a count of the likes and the names of up to three people who liked the post (it is critical to know how many likes you receive. Critical). Next up, you can now sort the feed by Top Posts. This will sort your feed and put the posts with the most likes, views, comments and overall engagement at the top. For the Questions Feed, we get some filter options in addition to the sorts. Now you can filter the Questions by All Questions, Unanswered Questions (great for your power members), Questions with No Best Answer and Questions with Best Answer (great for the members looking for help). This is only in the Customer Service template. Finally, a nice addition for those really active posts and feeds. Now from the post, you can actually see a live animation of up to three people responding to your post by trying to add comments. Pretty slick. Right now, this appears to only be in Lightning Experience and not in the Communities.
    Live Comments Update
  • Community Reporting Improvements – In Winter 17, we received much tighter integration with Google Analytics with the ability to add Google Analytics tags into Lightning components and pages. Now we get tighter integration on the search side. Within Google Analytics you can track the Community User Type, User IDs, Salesforce Objects and the customer search activity. The entire search stream will be automatically fed into your Google Analytics once you set this up. Below is a great example of some of the reports you can get – it might be tough to read, but it shows the actions the users took from the search – Selected an Article from Search, Asked the Community, Searched the Community, Selected a Discussion from Search or Searched a Topic. Huge data to get for Self-Service Communities. Definitely loving the tighter Google Analytics direction. In addition we get a new Customer Report Type to allow you to measure Click-Through Rates for Related Questions. You can now report on how many times a related question was displayed as an option and how many times it was clicked when it was displayed. From there you can get the click through rate for each related question. Pretty nice.
    Community Search Data in Google Analytics
  • Topic Metrics – Anyone who reads these regularly knows I’m a Topics geek. What can I say? I love metadata. Latest update to Topics is some cool new metrics you can expose. Now in the Trending Topic and Related Topic components you can choose to display the number of posts using the topic, number of Articles associated to the topic, how often a topic has been used in the last 60 days and how many followers a topic has. Love it!
  • Nested Menus – This has been a pretty popular ask from our customers – especially when their own website has nested drop down menus. Previously we had to discourage this, but now you can add Nested Menu items. Very nice.
    Nested Menus for Communities
  • User Hovers – When you hover over a member’s photo you now get a handy hover that shows their information. See below for how it looks, but pretty self-explanatory.
    User Hovers
  • Create New Records from Lookups – Now the lookup fields within Communities present the option to create a new record if the one they are looking for can’t be found. Particularly useful for Partner Communities where they might be adding new Account Sites, Assets or Contacts that you aren’t aware of.
    Create Records from Lookups
  • Tasks Available – Another handy new feature for Partner Community users in particular. Now Tasks are available from within the Related List component, so users can add Tasks to your records. Great way for Partners to show when they have upcoming meetings or when they’re collaborating with your internal users and need to give updates.
  • Use Tiles for Group List – Especially if you have a lot of Groups that list can get pretty cluttered. Now you have the option to display them as tiles instead. Pretty slick looking.
    User Group List in Tiles
  • Preconfigured Moderation Rules – We recently got the ability to setup moderation rules that will automatically flag or block posts, comments, and messages with certain behavior. Now Salesforce provides a group of preconfigured rules that they recommend each Community use or at least leverage as a starting point. All you need to do is activate these. Nice little time saver here.
  • Bookmarks Feed – You can now create a handy Bookmark feed that will show all of the feed items a user has bookmarked in one place.
  • List Views – Community users can now create their own List Views in the Community. This is a permission you need to enable, but this is a great feature to minimize the amount of time they come to you for reports and data. Obviously security still applies so they will only be able to access records they have access to no matter what they try to do with the List View.
  • Inline Editing – The very popular inline editing is now available in the Community too. Awesome.
  • More Communities – Great update here. Previously the number of different Communities you could create was limited to what you purchased. Now each instance can create up to 100 different Communities if you have Communities enabled.
  • Folders for Files in Libraries – You can now organize your Library content into Folders to make it easier to organize the Files. This is in beta, but is definitely a frequently asked for feature. Unfortunately this is still a little bit of a hodge-podge of what works in Classic versus what works in Lightning Experience. In Lightning Experience you can manage the folders – creating new ones, renaming them and deleting and you can move Files around into different Folders. None of that is available in Classic. However, you still can’t add net new Files to a Library in LEX. That and managing the Libraries themselves still only works in Classic. Love the folders though – please add this capability to the Files related list on records so we can organize there too!
    File Folders in Libraries
  • Google Drive Converter – Neat update if you’ve connected Google Drive as a Files Connect source. Now when you put the URL of the Google Doc into a Chatter post, it’s automatically converted into a Files attachment.
  • Attachments are Going Away (for Lightning) – Not in Spring 17, but in Summer 17 you will no longer be able to upload new files to the Notes & Attachments related list if you’re using Lightning Experience. You need to use Files instead. If you are on LEX you will want to start swapping all of your layouts to leverage Files instead of Attachments.
  • TLS 1.0 Disablement – Finally, it’s the end of TLS 1.0. Salesforce has been sending emails and screaming from the rooftops about how TLS 1.0 will no longer be supported and that day is arriving on March 4, 2017. Simply put TLS 1.0 is not secure. If you’re still using it, you’re creating a major vulnerability for yourself and from March 4th on, you’re not going to be able to use anything with Salesforce where you leveraged that. Salesforce has a great article here all about TLS 1.0 if you have a concern – and if you do, stop wasting time and get this fixed.

Well that’s it for Spring 17. It feels like these releases are coming quicker – they’re not – but maybe it’s just because each one has so much in it now. I only listed the top 50 or 60 features coming over these three posts and easily didn’t cover another 50+ features. It’s pretty exciting to see the Einstein features starting to be rolled out and just in general, there is so much good stuff in Spring 17. Admins get at it! As always, let us know if you have any questions and looking forward to seeing this live over the next two weeks!

Harry is the CEO and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 18 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hover functionality is not working in communities we are using partner central template and ther is no hover information getting displayed.please guide me as,in normal salesforce org hover details are showing up for the same field which ia m looking in communities

    1. Hi…Thanks for the comment. We’ve looking into this on our own Partner Central Community and we’re seeing the hovers work. Definitely check to make sure you’re on the most recent update of the template. That could be the issue. If you are, you might have a locker service issue or maybe something in the CSS itself is conflicting with the hover and preventing it from popping.

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