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Winter is Coming: What's New in the Lightning Experience with the Salesforce Winter '17 Release

Today's blog post was written by Caitlin Pfeiffer, Principal Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

The Winter '17 release notes are published, preview sandboxes have already been upgraded, Dreamforce is next week… all signs that (for my fellow Game of Thrones fans) "winter is coming." Salesforce has three releases each year, but in coordination with Dreamforce, the Winter release always seems to have a lot of big new features.

The Salesforce Winter '17 release is no different - there are lots of exciting new features to look forward to.

NOTE: Don't have time to read the 447-page release notes document? Check out this Top Features reference that highlights some of the big new features coming with the Winter Release.

Winter '17 comes with too much to cover in a single blog post, so this article will focus on some of the new features coming in the Lightning Experience. The Salesforce Lightning Experience was launched in last year's Winter release. Even though throughout the past year more and more feature are now supported on the Lightning Experience, a lot of my clients still were missing a few critical features necessary for them to make the jump. In this release, we're seeing some big enhancements to the Lightning Experience that I think will allow for many more companies to start using it. This blog post will highlight a few of my favorites.

What was once in Classic is now in Lightning

In this release, you'll see a lot more support for features that previously were only available in Salesforce Classic. To name a few:

  • Horizontal Tabs: Lightning currently has an icon bar that runs vertically down the left-hand side that you can expand and collapse (this model was very similar to the Salesforce1 navigation). However, with Winter '17, Lightning is moving back to the "horizontal tab" UI that we all know and love from Salesforce Classic.

Winter 17 release 1a

Winter 17 release 1b

I believe this change will make it easier for Classic users to transition over to the new Lightning Experience. In addition to the familiar design, this new navigation feature also allows for quick access to recent records and list views without having to navigate to the tab first.

Winter 17 release 2

  • App Branding: This sounds like a simple one, but most of my clients really like to be able to configure their Salesforce environment to align with their brand. Lightning users are now able to use their own company logo and company color.
  • Inline Editing in List Views: Inline editing in list views is often one of the favorite usability features of Salesforce Classic and is now finally available in the Lightning Experience. Although this is a big jump in the right direction, there's one caveat I must point out: inline editing in Lightning only allows you to edit one record at a time; it does not allow you to apply your edit to multiple selected records as you can in Classic. I'm hoping to see mass editing in List Views soon!

Winter 17 release 3

  • Quotes and Contracts: I'm glad to see that there is now Lightning Support for Contract but REALLY excited for Quotes in Lightning. Quotes are used by a lot of my clients, and this was a feature that was preventing a lot of people from moving to Lightning. You can now create Quotes & Quote Line Items, sync Quotes, and create Quote PDFs.
  • Adding Campaign Members from Contact/Lead List Views: Campaigns have been supported in Lightning since Spring '16; however, you only could add campaign members individually or through the new import wizard. For companies that manage large campaigns, not being able to add Campaign Members from Contact/Lead List Views was a big inefficiency.
  • Other Notables: A few other noteworthy notables that I'm excited to see, the Lightning Experience now supports:
    • Help Text
    • Collapsible sections on page layouts
    • Save & New functionality
    • Product Schedules
    • Ability to manually edit Opportunity Probability

What New in Lightning and Only Lightning

In addition to adding more "Classic" features to the Lightning Experience, Salesforce continues to show that Lightning is the future UI they are investing in by adding some new features that are only available to the Lightning Experience. There are a lot more than what I’ve listed, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Kanban for Leads, Contracts, Campaigns: In my opinion, the Kanban List View is one of the huge differentiators for the Lightning Experience and it’s now available for Leads, Contracts and Campaigns. Support for all of these objects is great (and I hear that support for all objects, including custom objects, is coming in the roadmap… safe harbor), but support for Leads is definitely the use case that I can see most companies being excited about. Lead Qualification processes are often just as important as Opportunity Sales Processes, so it’s great that Lightning users now can use this power UI for managing leads.

Winter 17 release 4

  • Edit directly in Kanban: Currently, Kanban is built for moving Opportunities between Sales Stages quickly and easily. But if you want to make additional updated to Opportunities in the Kanban list view, you have to drill into each Opportunity to make those edits, causing a lot of clicks and navigating back and forth. In the next release, you can edit records directly from the Kanban view without having to leave that view. This is going to make Kanban all the more powerful!
  • New Feeds for Contacts: Similar to Account Insights (which will be updated to being called Account “News” in Winter), you can now see a News feed for your contacts. With this feature, Salesforce has also embedded a great crowdsourcing feature, we you can provide feedback on if you feel like a News article is relevant or not, which will only help Salesforce improve this functionality for all users.
  • App Specific Page Layouts: Currently, Administrators have the ability to configure different page layouts for different Profiles and Record Types. In Winter ’17, Salesforce is adding an additional dimension to provide even more granularity for what page layouts are used in the Lightning Experience. You will now be able to configure different page layouts for different Lightning apps as well. The main use case here is to allow companies to create a much more tailored experience within an app. For example, you can create a Sales app that will show the key sales fields and lists Opportunities as the first related list on the Account page layout and also have a Service app that will show Cases and Service Contracts as the first related lists on the Account page layout. One word of caution: while this provides companies with a LOT of flexibly, it also adds another layer of complexity to maintaining your Salesforce environment. I would recommend that you consider the use cases that would warrant enabling this functionality carefully to make sure that the value will outweigh the additional maintenance of more page layouts.

Have questions on how or if you are ready to move to the new Lightning Experience, Sonoma Partners can help (contact us). 

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Topics: Salesforce