What is the new Salesforce?

Written byScott Hollrah

August 31, 2015


The New Salesforce

Unless you have been hiding under a rock you have probably heard at least a little bit about “The New Salesforce” but may not know exactly what that means.

On the surface some might say that “The New Salesforce” is simply a new user interface.  While that is partly true it is so much more – it is a totally new user experience which is outlined in more detail below.

As one might expect, Salesforce didn’t quietly announce the new Lightning User Interface with a press release, they did it in style with a world wide live stream complete with a pre-show and a killer keynote.  To start the event, Salesforce showed a video of the evolution of the platform from 1999 through 2015.  For some of us it was a walk down memory lane.  Check out the video embedded below:


The most recent UI change that coincided with the launch of Chatter introduced some additional functionality but for the most part was little more than the change of a style sheet.  Functionality was still driven by the tabs across the top. List views and the overall experience was much the same of the previous version.

Lightning UI changes that entirely.  This is far more than colors, nav menus, and fonts.


Give Me Some Details Already!

If you were at Dreamforce last year you obviously heard the two biggest product announcements – Wave (also known as Analytics Cloud) and Lightning.  Both of these tools have their fingerprints all over The New Salesforce.  Charts and graphs have the look and feel of those found in Wave.  If you were at all like me and puzzled to learn that the Lightning framework was only for Salesforce1 Mobile things make a lot more sense now.

Lightning UI is built around and inspired by the user experience from Salesforce1. This also explains why certain features like Sales Path were only available for Salesforce1 at launch.  The convergence of mobile and desktop experiences is upon us.

Speaking of Sales Path, it is important to note that Lightning UI is going to be available first for Sales Cloud with Service Cloud and other functions to come at a later date. No ETA has been announced for a Lightning enabled experience in the other clouds.

Of course Sales Path will now be available for desktop users along with the following:

Account Insights will provide recent news articles on companies you are currently working with.


Salesforce has been pushing more and more functionality to the feed which makes it no surprise to see this carried further in the form of the Activity Timeline.

Now you can get analytic charts on all List Views while making changes to your filters on the fly.

One of the things that stood out to me was the new Pipeline Board which allows you to look at your open deals in which they are all organized in a column by stage.  For those sales reps that wait until the last minute to update their pipeline before their weekly sales review they can now simply drag and drop an Opportunity between stages to make updates. Again, this release is not just a UI change but an entirely different user experience.


Many of you have lamented the fact that there is no single screen in Salesforce to see all of your task in one place.  I have frequently installed Basati Activities from the AppExchange (Free) to help my clients get this consolidated view.  Lightning UI will make this a native experience without the need for third party tools.


While attending a launch party, one of my colleagues mentioned that the new Notes experience is much more like Evernote allowing you to “tag” a note by associating it to multiple records.


As was mentioned previously, elements of Wave can be found throughout Lightning UI including…wait for it…the ability to create Dashboards with MORE THAN THREE COLUMNS!!! Some of you just got our of your chair and did a little dance. Dashboard components can be resized independent of one another.  On top of that, all Dashboard Components enjoy a fresh, modern look and feel.


For Administrators and Developers

For those of you who are an administrator or developer there are probably dozens of questions around how you will build, manage and further customize Salesforce in this new world.  Obviously Lightning Components are key to Lightning UI.  When you make the transition you will be able to build with standard and custom components as well as those from the AppExchange.  On that note, in case you weren’t already aware, there is now a separate section of the AppExchange just for components.

Developers – don’t panic, the Visualforce pages you have written will not suddenly cease to work.  In fact, during the launch announcement it was clearly stated that VF will work indefinitely – hey, S Controls still work after all!  The one caveat was that going forward Visualforce may require some additional testing.

Also of note, Salesforce has released Lightning Design System which is the same toolset used by Salesforce’s in house engineers working on the application.  This system will allow you to create beautiful, pixel perfect apps and can be downloaded here.

Admins and Developers alike will do themselves a favor to start getting some experience with Lightning UI in the brand new Trailhead modules released alongside the announcement last week. On that note, for those interested in getting a pre-release org with Lightning UI enabled you will get higher priority by earning some of those badges.



A few other miscellaneous items to note:

  • Lightning UI will be available in all 32 languages currently supported by Salesforce at the time of launch
  • Any customizations made to the desktop version will apply to Salesforce1 Mobile – again, Salesforce is driving more and more toward a consistent user experience.
  • The list of supported browsers includes:
    • IE 11
    • Safari 8.x
    • Most recent stable versions of Firefox & Chrome

It is worth noting that organizations still running older versions of IE will have their users redirected to what is now being called “Salesforce Classic” – in other words, the UI you are used to seeing today.  The only surprise in the browser list was the fact that the new Microsoft Edge browser was not mentioned. I will be surprised if Edge availability isn’t announced in the very near future.


Should You Adopt Lightning UI Immediately?

By now I’m sure you are jumping up and down eager to roll this out to your entire company.  Not so fast…there are a lot of things to consider before flipping the switch.

First, as was mentioned previously, Lightning UI is only available for Sales Cloud.  If your organization uses Service Cloud you will not be able to deploy this new functionality to everyone right out of the gate.  Salesforce has put a lot of thought into how this will be rolled out and has given administrators a lot of control.  Organizations will have the ability to be more selective granting access to users, profiles and via permission sets. I highly recommend that you test with a group of users before going org wide.

There are a number of other resources that should be reviewed including:

Particular attention should be paid to the Compare Classic & Lightning Experience file.  While there are some incredible new features it is worth noting that Lightning is not at feature parity with Classic. Some of the notable items that aren’t yet available in Lightning UI are:

  • Calendar and Events
  • Items to Approve
  • Account Teams
  • Account and Contact Hierarchy
  • Person Accounts
  • Opportunity Teams
  • Joined Reports
  • Certain Types of Report Types including: Tables, Funnel, and Scatter
  • Filtered Dashboards
  • Dynamic Dashboards
  • Scheduled Dashboard Refreshes
  • Inline Editing
  • Forecasting

For larger organizations that may be slower to make the jump it is worth noting that Salesforce has stated that there is no end in sight for Salesforce Classic.

If you want to watch the announcement in all of its glory check out the full length video here.

Let us know what your thoughts are so far in the comments below.



Scott Hollrah

About the Author

Scott Hollrah

Scott Hollrah pops out of bed every morning invigorated knowing that he adds tangible value to his clients’ businesses. He finds it gratifying, too, that he gets to work with people that push him to be better each day, motivating him along the way. If Scott were a lyric it would be “Hello my friend, it seems your eyes are troubled, care to share your time with me?” If that sounds like someone who, first and foremost, is in the people business — that’s because it’s more who Scott is than what line of work he’s in.