Before jumping into the features of Summer 16, it’d be a mistake not to mention the big news from last week – salesforce’s acquisition of Demandware. While salesforce is already saying Demandware will become the baseline for the new Commerce Cloud, this is huge news for Communities as well. We’re building these incredible communities and bringing together customers and partners into one place – pushing tons of information to them and enabling them to manage their data and collaborate – but we’ve never had a great way to allow them to purchase while they are there. And the purchasing doesn’t just have to be your products – it could be training, certification, fees to join a partner program or to join an event, etc. With the Demandware purchase, there’s no doubt this will be coming to Communities soon and this will close a big gap. By the way, this is a gap every Community/Portal vendor has, it’s not unique to salesforce. The fact that salesforce is the first to jump into this – and apparently this was a bidding war so they won’t be the last – means that we’ll be ahead of the curve and able to give our customers & partners a terrific experience sooner. Also, just full disclosure, Demandware is a wonderful customer of ours and we’ve been helping them with salesforce for a couple of years now. Great company and what a terrific exit. Congrats.
Alright, let’s get to the features here. As always, a somewhat orderly, random order mostly driven by what I like to talk about first:
- Global Search Component for Communities – A great new Lightning Component for Communities is the new Global Search Component. Instead of the Lightning search being limited to Articles and Discussions, you can now add the Global Search Component, and the results will show all objects your Community User has access to – even custom objects. Very nice enhancement.
- New Chatter Feed Look & Feel – In LEX only, the Chatter Feed has a new streamlined look and feel and ways to interact with it. First, the feed itself has been cleaned up a bit, tightening up the 3 column layout and making a focus out of distinguishing between the threads. It’s not drastic, but it does look cleaner (See below – but admittedly the screenshot is tough to see. It’s much clearer when seeing it live). Next, the Chatter Feed gets the same scrolling touch that a lot of mobile sites and thread sites have adopted. No more clicking “see more”, instead, just keep scrolling down and the next content will load automatically. A nice touch and definitely an easier interface.
- Files Topics – Anyone that has read these write-ups regularly knows I love my Topics. I’m a meta-data geek. So can you blame me for being excited to see that you can now add Topics to Files?! Of course you can’t. Super cool new feature that makes those Topics pages even more powerful. Now you can highlight Records, Posts, Users AND Files for a Topic and have them all centralized on a Topics page.
- Community Updates to Topics – As if adding Topics to Files weren’t enough, there’s a bunch of enhancements to Topics on the Community side as well. First, you now have some additional “Tiles” that can appear on the Topic pages of the Lightning Communities. The first of these is a Description for the Topic that you can optionally fill out. If you don’t it won’t appear, but if you do, it’ll appear on the right hand side. A side benefit of this Topic description is this is what is visible to search robots like Google. So if your Community is public facing, you definitely want to fill these out as your Topic Pages will be SEO magnets (Topic pages will be the start of your SEO long tail). The second is an “Articles with this Topic” title that will display a list of Knowledge Articles that have the same topic. Next up, is the Translation Workbench now supports Topics, Topic Descriptions and Featured Topics in the Community. Very big for Global Communities. Speaking of Featured Topics, another improvement is that you can display Featured Topics as a component anywhere in your Community. Before you could only put this on the homepage. Finally, members of your Community can now be endorsed for Topics as an expert right from their user profile page. This should make it easier for your Community to flag and identify experts for you and other members. A lot of changes here, but it all adds up to more powerful Topics use!
- Files Component – This is a great new component. With the new Files Component you can allow your Community users to view and manage all of their Files in one place. This is a very powerful component – especially for Partner users. I’d highly recommend adding this to at least the user profile page and potentially other spots.
- Multiple Page Layouts – Similar to how Lightning Experience can now show different page layouts and homepages in Summer 16, Communities gets the same treatment. Now, based on the user profile of your Community User, you can give them a different experience by having different page layouts or homepages. Huge addition that had previously only been possible if you didn’t use the Lightning Communities.
- Inline Images for Napili – Pretty slick new feature for Napili Communities only (not sure why this wouldn’t be in all Feeds, but every time I think that, it gets extended the next release), where you can now put images within the post itself versus having to do it as an attachment. Definitely useful for self-service and Q&A type posts where your users are trying to explain the issue they are having.
- Exclude Internal Users from Leaderboard – This one was always an annoyance, as you really don’t want to highlight your employees on your Community Leaderboard. The idea is to push your Customers & Partner users. Previously you had no way to exclude the internal users. This changes with Summer 16, where you now have an option to exclude those internal users. Sorry Customer Support and Product Managers, but your days in the sunlight of the Leaderboard are over.
- Additional Moderation Tools – Summer 16 includes a big boost to the moderation capabilities of Communities.
- Pre-Moderation – This is a big tool to use if you’re being hit with spammers or if your Community is loaded with trolls and hostile members. In particular B2C communities have this issue, but occasionally you’ll see it on more controversial B2B products. Basically by turning on this new setting, all posts will be sent to a moderation queue prior to being published to the public. Your Community Managers would then review these posts and approve or reject them. As soon as the post is approved it’ll appear to the public. If it’s rejected, it’ll be deleted. One limitation is that this is just for Posts. It doesn’t work for Comments (this probably will be next as it’s needed to truly run a Community this way), Private Messages or Files. In addition, the author of the post can edit it even while it’s in review. This is a bit of a mixed bag, as it lets them self-correct a bad post if they actually have a conscious (most trolls don’t) but at the same time, you’re going to miss the fact that you potentially have a bad member on your hands. Usually those that do this type of behavior continue it.
- Member Freeze – Big feature here. Sometimes no matter how much you warn a member, they continue with bad or malicious posts and you need to shut them down. The new Member Freeze allows you to freeze their user account with the click of a button. The member will no longer be able to login to the Community and if they are already logged in, it will prevent them from being able to post anymore. A lot of Communities use this as a “time-out” for the members. Freeze them for a day and then hope they change their ways. If not, then the next step is usually banning them.
- Rate Limiting Rules – Usually when spammers hit, they hit hard and fast. It’s usually not a post here and a post there, but tens or hundreds of posts. With the new Rate Limiting Rules salesforce will watch for users that are posting too much in a period of time. You can set your own rules, and with each rule determine if the behavior should notify the Community Manager or even freeze the user’s account. For example, if they post 10 times in 1 minute that could be a warning to the manager, but if it’s 20 times in 1 minute, you know you have a spammer on your hands and you just flat out freeze the account. Very useful for public facing Communities.
- Actionable Insights – Very cool new feature building off of the Insights reports that were released previously. Now as a Community Manager you can perform actions directly from these reports. Community Managers can select one or more posts at a time and perform any of the following actions: Approve them, Flag them (works for Posts, Comments or Files), Unflag them or even Delete them. (these last two work for Posts, Comments, Files and Private Messages). In addition you can freeze or unfreeze members right from these reports. To get these reports, you’ll need to install the Actionable Insights for Communities from the AppExchange which will come out right after Summer 16 is released. This is a huge time-saver for Moderators and Community Managers.
- Moderate Private Message – For the first time Community Managers can now moderate Private Messages as well. This is a separate permission set, so this is something you could choose to grant to only certain Community Managers, but it’s critical functionality to have in order to create a safe Community environment.
- Related Questions – Previously when a user viewed an Article in the Lightning Communities, they would see a Related Articles component that would show a list of Articles that were related to the one they were viewing. With Summer 16, this has been expanded to also show related Questions to that Article. This is actually a beta, but is a nice feature to help drive more self-help.
- More Files in your Posts – You can now add up to 10 files per post in Posts and Questions. Comments and Answers are still limited to the 1 file. This is in the Community section of the release notes, but I’m assuming this will work internally as well, but will check that next weekend once we get Summer 16.
- Feed Mute – Now it’s a ton easier to mute those noisy posts. Someone in your org post a Chatter about cats? Or worse, babies and cats? Well, you can now calm the noise even easier as the mute button is right in the Chatter details now. Just go to post and click mute and you won’t be notified of all of the comments. This is only in LEX.
- Chatter Group Activity Metrics – Now, in LEX, you can get to the Chatter Group activity metrics and charts with a single click from the Chatter Group. The interesting thing with this is all users of the Group can see the Groups activity. For internal Chatter Groups this probably isn’t a big deal, but for Groups within a Community, this is another form of gamification. Your top posters and contributors want to be part of a successful and thriving Community. Not only that, a lot of them want to be the most thriving group within your Community. This will allow your power-users to see how their (because at the end of the day, if your Community is to be successful, they need to think of it as their Community too) Community is doing and help you drive behavior to improve the activity.
- Group Pictures are Wider – Similar to Twitter Profiles, you can now make your Group look even better with a wide picture vs. the small icon. Especially with Groups for Communities – this is your face to your Customers and Partners and this helps you look even sharper and more modern. A nice touch.
- Chatter Group Record Types – Really interesting feature here, that I have to admit I needed to think about for a bit to see why this was useful (turns out it really is). This is in beta, but looks like you can now create Record Types for your Chatter Groups. Typically when you think Record Types you’re thinking Page Layouts and Picklists and providing that different experience on the same object. For Chatter Groups, I think the Page Layout concept is there, but it’s probably a bit more minimal. The big win here is security. If you’re a heavy user of Chatter Groups, you know it is a pain to provision what Users should be able to access which Groups (by the way, this got a little bit easier too – see next bullet). With the Record Types it doesn’t solve the entire issue, but it does make it a bit easier. Now you can set Profile level security to what Chatter Group Record Types a user should be able to see. If you have Partner Groups, give them a Partner Record Type and only assign that to your Partner Profiles. Automatically your Customer Community users won’t have access. A nice time saver for Community Managers and internal admins.
- Improved Chatter Group Member Assignment – As I mentioned above, managing what users can access different Chatter Groups has always been a pain. With Summer 16, this gets a little bit easier with an improved interface that gets away from having to add one user at a time. Now you can rip through and add multiple users at once. However, this still requires you to do this manually. If this is something you’re interested in automating, check out our BREeze User Management application and automate this, as well as Public User Groups and Permission set assignment. (ok, plug over)
- Files Security by Record – In Spring 16, Files received a new feature to allow you to set a Files security based on the record it was associated to. At the time this could only be done via the API. Now, with Summer 16, users can do it right from the File itself in the Sharing Settings. This is a huge feature if you’re using Files and you’re in a private sharing model.
That’s it for the Collaboration features. Really nice release, especially for Communities and the wave of new moderation features that are part of it. Part 4 will be a little different than usual as we’ll be focused on Wave Analytics and all of the new Analytics features that are coming. Enjoy your Summer 16 release and thanks for reading!