Welcome back to part 3 of our blog series, “Is it a Cost or an Investment”. In this part of the series we will continue with technical specifics that will hopefully help justify the migration effort. The theme here is persistent Real Estate Investment (as in the UX, not a vacation home). Make sure to check out part 1 and part 2 if you have not already. Ready? Lets dive back in!
Template/Modular Based Pages:
Several of the concepts discussed in this section are not new technologies but are new to SFDC in the flexible manner that the Lightning framework delivers them. The new Lightning Page functions can be compared to full blown capabilities that any website developer would be accustomed to in a modern CMS (content management system). The key theme here is visual real estate and responsive UI – how do you maximize the moment of engagement with the specific User as the page is rendered and transacted. The answer is a real time, shaped, and dynamically contextual pages. This goal is achieved when a page renders with the exact information, format, functionality and style that makes sense for that moment in time AND for that specific User. The Lighting App Builder delivers this capability from an administrative perspective in a WYSIWYG format making it administratively accessible and manageable. It has all of the essential layers required to create true CMS based pages that maximize the individual User experience:
- Standard and Custom Page Templates*
- CSS and custom branding*
- Standard and Custom Modular Lighting Components Library
- App, Module, and Page level User security and awareness
- Interpage and intermodule operability
- Real time intra and inter record contextual awareness
- Drag and Drop Page Administration
*These areas are at the forefront of “giving up the UI” so to speak (thank you Parker!) and are still evolving. It is important to keep in mind during this transition that for the first 15 years of this applications existence the UI was for the most part locked down. This area will be an evolving and “opening” framework for the foreseeable future.
Where SFDC Classic was designed to provide a more regimented UI framework across the Org (read: anti Flash!), Lighting is designed to deliver contextually intelligent pages based upon the specific purpose of the interaction for that individual User while maximizing the interface real estate– a truly responsive UX!
Scalability, Extensibility and Complexity:
We do not usually look at the SFDC Org in terms of “Site Maps” and individual “Site Pages.” In SFDC Classic we typically experience these concepts as tab navigation elements (think “Account”) and individual records (think our perennial “Burlington Textiles” Account Page). The customizations and modifications to these concepts tend to operate at a localized level. In the Lightning framework, the Lightning App Builder and modular Lighting Component concept combine to create an easily scalable distributed functional model that behaves more like a true Site Map and Page Management construct at the Platform level. One can develop a module once and easily deploy it across the Org on multiple pages. That single module can have a programmatic nuance to behave differently in different contexts (i.e. objects, frames, and records).
Next Generation Model View Controller (MVC) Design:
The more nuanced and advanced MVC oriented framework of the Lightning Components delivers nodes of specific functionality in architecturally sound compositions. In SFDC Classic, often times, “odd” design decisions are made to accommodate the Platform’s UI limitations (e.g. the painful proliferation of too many record types just to accommodate different page layout requirements) – not so in Lightning! In terms of capabilities, they have substantial breadth and they can address simple use cases such as basic form building to complex use cases involving real time User initiated external system transactions (vis-à-vis the integration layer). As a result, they open up a window into UI design complexity that previously was daunting if not unthinkable in SFDC Classic. I have already had personal experience along with many of my Team members leveraging the new Lightning Page and Lightning Web Component capabilities to design dynamic User interactions. These use cases address real time multi object and multi-dimensional input and calculation requirements that would have been unheard of in the SFDC Classic or at the very least attained at a level of very high technical debt and programmatic overhead. It feels like we’ve been given a new toy box and breath of fresh air all at once.
The Future is Here:
An entire universe of new rapidly evolving capabilities such as IoT, Chatbots, Interactive Data Visualizations, Predictive AI, NLR AI are begging to be leveraged to enhance the Customer Journey. To use the new toys you need somewhere to put them – Lightning is well suited to leverage and present the UI frameworks implied by these tools.
Hopefully this content has provided some helpful considerations on building the business case to migrate to Lightning. Here are just few more major concepts to consider.
- Platform ROI and major release management. SFDC provides 3 major releases a year and at this point that investment is almost solely focused on new Lightning features and enhancements.
- User expectations for Reporting and Dashboards in general are becoming increasingly more demanding – Lightning provides a more powerful platform for delivering these visualizations and more places to deliver them in the interfaces.
- There are entire new and exciting modules such as Field Service Lightning which are only available in Lightning. The list goes on…
At the end of the day, scalable responsive UI design is all about the art of the possible. Lighting provides an entire new universe of possible – get started on the journey to find yours!
For additional resources and detailed explanations of the universe of Lighting I highly recommend leveraging Trailhead.
Go to https://trailhead.salesforce.com/ type in Lightning in the search bar at the top. A myriad of options will appear.
An appropriate place to start is the “Get Started with Lightning Experience” Trail: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/content/learn/trails/lex_admin_implementation?trailmix_creator_id=lpounders&trailmix_id=lightning-trailmix
Cameron Gilbertson has spent the past eight plus years formally implementing Salesforce.com solutions as an SI Consultant at Statera. Prior to that career shift, he had the opportunity to learn the craft of high end custom websites and ecommerce solution development leveraging content management systems and ecommerce platforms with his good friends at BlueBolt, LLC based out of Chicago who are still producing world class custom marketing and ecommerce websites today.