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Salesforce Summer 18 Features – Communities, Chatter & Files

Summer 18 is already out across everyone’s instances. We had our upgrade this weekend and we’re already setting up some of the new features (as predicted, it’s only been 2 days and that scuba-diving bear is already freaking me out when I’m waiting for Lightning to load. He just has this dead look in his eyes. He’s definitely stalking something). It’s another packed release and we’re on Part 3 of our release write-up. In Part 1 we covered Sales Cloud and Sales Cloud Einstein as well as some of the platform updates. In Part 2 we covered Service Cloud – including the very exciting new Einstein Bots and Field Service Lighting. For this part we are going to cover all of the collaboration features: Communities, Chatter and Files. The last 5 or 6 releases have been an explosion of new features focused around Lightning and the front-end of Communities. In this release we get some more of that, but we also get a bunch of back-end changes that are really exciting. Let’s jump right in. As always, the order is in the order of stuff that jumped out at me.

  • Sharing Sets – With Summer 18 we get two super exciting updates to Sharing Sets one of which is in beta and the other is a pilot. I usually don’t mention the pilots, but this one is a strong one so I’m excited about it. First the beta – we can now use Sharing Sets across all Community license types. Up until now, Sharing Sets were only available for Customer Community meaning Customer Plus and Partner couldn’t leverage them. The interesting thing is, originally this was supposed to be a benefit. Sharing sets really are an all or nothing blanket rule while with Customer Plus and Partner you have all this flexibility with the normal Sharing rules. The problem became sometimes you didn’t need all of that complexity and without having the Sharing Sets you were forced to build a more complex – and usually custom – setup to mimic what the lowest level license type had out of the box. It was very frustrating, but with this, it’s a thing of the past. Huge Hooray for this (and big props to the nuts who re-created this classic Woody Woodpecker scene at Niagra Falls. If I ever get there, I’ll be doing the same. Just need to find that yellow poncho…)! For the Pilot, we get an equally exciting update. Sharing Sets will now respect the Contacts with Multiple Accounts feature. Boom! Now things get interesting. When you have Partners or Contacts that need to see records across multiple Accounts but maybe not the entire Hierarchy, you can use this to streamline the security rules. This could be a monster time-saver – and terrific way to manage complex customer & partner relationships – and reduce a ton of apex code. Can’t wait until this is live! By the way, this is for both Lightning and Visualforce + Tabs Communities.
  • Display CMS Content using CMS Connect JSON – Another great update that can really extend your Community. Now you can create Lightning Components that contain content that is stored in an external CMS. As long as the CMS supports JSON (popular systems like Sitecore, Drupal and WordPress all leverage JSON connections), you’ll be able to pull that content in using this feature. This is a terrific way to pull in external content like Blogs or Articles that are written for the website. Why wouldn’t you want to expose that high value content to your Customers or Partners?
  • Field Service Objects – We mentioned this in the Service Cloud & Field Service write-up but it’s worth repeating. With Summer 18 every single Field Service object can now be exposed within Communities. Previously you could only show work orders, work order line items, and service appointments and even those could only be exposed in Lightning Communities. This change applies to both Lightning and Visualforce + Tabs Communities. Great expansion.
  • Activity Timelines in Communities – If you’ve read any of our posts about the Lightning Activity Management enhancements you’ll know that I love the Activity Timeline. This is a great feature that really does a terrific job of showing what has happened on a record with the past Activities and what is coming up with Next Steps. Well, this is now available as a component within Communities too. It’s supported across most objects: accounts, campaigns, contacts, contracts, leads, opportunities, orders, quotes, and activity-enabled custom objects, so it’s pretty broadly available. I can see this being extremely useful for Partner Communities, especially those where your Partner is very actively collaborating with you. Customer Community would have some use cases too, but really cool to see.
    Activity Timelines in Communities
  • Case Deflection Updates – In Spring 18 we got the new Case Deflection Component which was a great new feature. Now we get some additional improvements to that. First, you can now customize the text for the Upload File button within the Contact Support form so that you can label it however you’d like. We also now get a Topic dropdown menu in the Deflection component that displays any of the navigational or features Topics but also Topics added by Community Members. This will allow users to narrow down the Articles and Discussions and make it easier to find what they need prior to contacting support. The component now displays Articles by default. Finally, we get an improvement to the Community Case Deflection report. We can now report on the Subject lines that didn’t present helpful suggestions to the users. This could prove to be terrific insight into areas where you need to add some new Knowledge Articles. Nice to see the improvements to a must use component if you’re using Community for service.
  • Security / Access Updates – As I mentioned in the intro, we get a lot of back-end improvements with Summer 18. As part of that, there are a slew of security / access updates. First up is a super interesting one. Passwordless logins for Communities. What?! How would that work?? Well, it’s pretty cool. Basically, allow your users to receive a verification code – by text or email – instead of having to set a password. This isn’t necessarily something you’d want to do for all Communities, but sometimes you don’t have the luxury of knowing your user’s emails or being able to onboard them in time. Sometimes your users don’t even have email accounts. This makes those scenarios a headache of the past. Great feature and this works in Lightning as well as Visualforce + Tabs. Next up is link expirations for various types of password related emails. Any password reset email sent from an admin now expires in 24 hours. Previously these didn’t expire. In addition, previously these forgot password links expired as soon as they were clicked by the user even if they didn’t get through the reset process. So if they were interrupted and needed to re-start, they needed to get a new link. Now these don’t expire once they are clicked until the user completes the process. For Welcome Emails, admins can now control if those links expire in 1 day, 7 days or 180 days. Up to you how long you want those hanging out there. Another security enhancement is you can now build pages where a user can manage their verification methods. With these Lightning pages (which you need to build) you can expose the mobile phone numbers and / or emails a user leverages for their verification and let the user make adjustments as needed. Finally, a great one that is in beta. Now you can have different login policies for Salesforce users and Community users. Wooo! It was always frustrating having a single global login policy. Terrific to see this separated. This works in Lightning and in Visualforce + Tabs – but just remember, it is in beta.
  • Let Community Users Resume Paused Flows – You can now give your Community users the ability to pause a flow and then re-start them at a later time. As part of this, Community users will be able to see all of their paused flows. This is terrific for Communities that are supporting complicated or long form collection or onboarding processes. If your customer gets stuck on page 4, no need for them to have to start all over. Now, they can simply pause, contact support, and then start right back up.
    Resume Paused Flows within Communities
  • Restrict Case Access to Users – This fixes a bit of a rare issue, but if you had that issue it was maddening. Basically, up until this feature if a Contact is added to a Case in the standard Case Contact field and that Contact has a Community license, they have access to that Case. Normally that’s exactly what you want, so no big deal. However, sometimes, you have internal cases about your customers that you don’t want to expose externally, but you still want to track the customer Contact on that Case. That blanket rule kills you here and forces you to not use standard functionality for those internal Cases. Now, with this feature, you can turn off that blanket rule and then add manual sharing rules to expose Cases on a criteria basis. This is a beta feature, but great to see.
  • Post Pinning – A handy feature that is now GA. Admins can pin up to 3 posts per group or topic feeds. This ensures visibility for those posts as they will always be at the top of the feed until the admin removes them. Great feature to use for announcements or welcome to the community type messages.
    Post Pinning for Community Feeds
  • Close Conversations – That conversation already has been answered correctly, so why keep letting users pile on with potentially misleading information? Or maybe it’s one where you’ve weighed in with the “this is a future enhancement” answer and you don’t want the endless “we need this now” comments dragging the post down. Now we have the ability to close those conversations. Community Admins and Moderators can have this access. Once closed, no one can Comment, Answer or vote on the poll for that post. Other items like adding a topic, flagging, bookmarking, etc. are still available, but effectively, the conversation is ended.
    Close Conversations in Communities
  • Badges – Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges! Well, actually you could! They are awesome and a great way to foster recognition and drive user adoption within your Community. Well, it’s been a while, but the old badges are now available in Lightning for Communities (Still no luck for internal users on Lightning though. Not having that in Lightning is one of the main reasons I still need to flip to Classic and it drives me nuts). Any badges awarded to a user is displayed in the feed and in the member’s profile. You can give these out individually, have Community members give them to each other and also automate it based on certain actions or points accrual by using process builder. Glad to see this available in Lightning.
  • Posts at Scale – Have a message that you need sent to a ton of users? Well, it’s pretty painful to @mention 500 users at once (I’m not even sure that’s possible actually). With this handy new feature you can run a report of Community users and select up to 500 at a time to send a message to. Awesome features for Community Managers.
  • Delegated Admins can Manage Their Teams – Great new feature that allows your Partner delegated admins to maintain their own users. If you have Partners where they have many users that have access to your Community it has always been a major pain point to keep those users up to date. A Sales Rep leaves the partner but their Partner Community login to your Community could remain active for months or even longer. Now, you can give a delegated admin at the Partner the access to activate new users and deactivate others. This is a terrific feature, but unfortunately, this is only available in the Partner Central template today. Would be great to see this expanded to all Lightning Communities as this is even a problem on the Customer side when you are servicing large organizations. For now this is a beta feature, so maybe we’ll see it expanded when it goes GA.
    Delegated User Management in Partner Central
  • Delegated Admins can Manage Their Branding Assets – Same idea as above, but this time instead of managing users, those delegated admins can manage their branded assets on the Branding Page. This let’s you collaborate directly with your Partner to create co-branded emails and other campaigns. As with the delegated users control, this only works in the Partner Central template and this is also a beta feature.
  • Other Partner Central Updates – In addition to the two above, we get a few other Partner Central updates. First, the Campaign Marketplace is now GA. For Partner ecosystems where you are working closely with your Partners from a Marketing stand-point, this is a pretty handy update. Basically, you now have a place where you can highlight all of the campaigns you are running with your Partners and detail out what they are, the time frame, goals, show if they have Marketing Development Funds (MDF) available, or any other key data points you want to highlight. Nice way to give your partners one place to see what is going on with Marketing at any given time. Speaking of MDFs, the MDF functionality also gets a bit of an improvement. Essentially, the MDF functionality now acts like most objects as we now can set field level security, add custom fields and add workflow. Finally, the Target Audiences functionality gets extended to be more Partner Central focused. You can now build out Target Audiences and use Channel Program or Channel Level as part of that targeting. Great enhancement and a terrific way to show relevant content to your partners based on their tier or skills.
    Campaign Marketplace in Partner Central
  • Account Roles – If you have a lot (and I’m talking a lot, like 10’s of thousands minimum) of Community users – especially if you have Accounts that have many individual Community users – one of the performance issues you could hit some performance issues since each of these users create their own roles. In the Partner Community they actually create 3 roles each. Now you can turn on Account Roles and share 1 role for each Account across all of the users at that Account. This will really help optimize the performance for those larger Communities.
  • Progressive Rendering – Neat update here. Now you can control the order of which components load first on a Lightning page. Especially handy if you have a page with a ton of components, now you can make sure the stuff at the top of the page renders first so your users can start to read even while the rest of the page is loading.
  • Community Favorites – Not a feature of Summer 18, but our latest app – Fave&Follow – is complete and live on the AppExchange! With Fave&Follow, you can make your Community stickier by allowing your users to add Favorites for any Community content and even by subscribing to receive notifications when an Article is updated. This is a common request that we get during our Community implementations and while Lightning Experience has this, Communities do not. The concept is pretty simple – you can now add a Favorites icon to your Community that your users can click to create Favorites. Any page within the Community can be added as a Favorite. Your users can click on the icon to get a list of their Favorites (just like your browser functions) and quickly navigate to their top content. They can also manage, sort and search their Favorites. Finally, specific to Knowledge Articles, if they Favorite an Article they have the option to also Follow that Article. When that Article is updated to a new version and email will be sent to all of your users that follow it. Great way to keep your users up to date on all changes. This is a simple way to make your Community stickier and help your users find the content they want. From an Administrator stand-point, all of these Favorites are stored in standard Salesforce objects, so it’s all reportable. We include a standard dashboard to allow you to track which content is being Favorited and Followed the most. You can use this as another key KPI to add to your analytics that your content effectiveness. Finally, just like any Lightning component, Fave&Follow can be branded to match your Community’s look and feel. Our v1 of Fave&Follow is for Lightning Communities only, but right behind this we’ll have a version for Visualforce Communities. Please contact us if you’re interested.
  • Library Branding – Simple but neat update to Libraries. You can now add an image to represent the Library. This works both in Communities and within Lightning Salesforce. Brand those Libraries and make them look even more exciting!
    Branded Libraries
  • File Detail Page – The File Detail page is now available within Communities, so now you can show off more information about the Files you are exposing to your Customers and Partners. For internal Salesforce, the File Details page now let’s you manage Topics (yes!) from within the page. Add or remove Topics directly from the Files Detail page and expand out that Topic library.
    Expanded File Topics Page
  • File Preview Improvements – Quip Files can now be previewed within the Files Details page. This works in both Lightning Salesforce and within Lightning Communities. Handy update for Quip users. In addition, Classic users now get the benefit of the enhanced File Preview that has been out in Lightning for a while. Basically, you now get the full HD experience when previewing files. Finally, Salesforce has added a feature to allow you to preview PDF files as JPG instead of SVG formats. SVG is the default and it seems that this can cause issue sometimes in previewing scanned files. I’ve personally never seen this, but if you have a lot of these file types I can see how this is a nice update.
  • Navigation and Tile Menu Changes now have a Draft Status – Previously any change you made to your Navigation or Tile Menu was immediately published to the live Community as soon as you hit Save. A bit tough to test like that. With Summer 18, these changes are now saved as in draft until you click Publish.
  • Delete Audiences – Previously you had no way to delete an Audience you didn’t need anymore. Now you can. Keep those Audiences nice and tidy.

That’s it for Part 3. Not as big as some of the past Communities releases which was super packed, but still a big update. For Part 4 we are going to drill-down into some of the Privacy features Salesforce has rolled out, especially with GDPR now in effect. We did a webinar on this a few months back, but new features have come out in Summer 18 and we want to drill down into how this could impact your instance. As always, if you have any questions or want some help implementing any of these features, just Contact Us and someone will get back to you immediately.

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.

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