I am so excited to announce the release of Salesforce Indicators – an app for your Salesforce org that allows you to highlight important data with icons and colors, making it easy to focus on what matters most. You can make key details pop, and show you insights at a glance on your Salesforce records – without cluttering the page or interfering with data entry.
Try it Now
You can install Salesforce Indicators in your production org right now.
Why Salesforce Indicators
As a Salesforce Partner, when I first look at the Salesforce Org of my client, I need to be able to know the data that is important to them – which fields on each Object are the key fields that every user needs to know as soon as they land on the page? Examples are the Account has an Active Contract or their Contract is coming up for renewal, or they are behind on paying their invoices – everyone who lands on that Account page needs to know that information. Colours and icons, at the top of the page help to draw focus to that key information immediately after looking at the record name and highlights panel.
The first org I used this concept of coloured icons in was a company that had just taken on a new brand after an acquisition. They had 3 brands and 4 contract types, and each contract had to be dealt with slightly differently, even down to saying the brand name when calling the client (“Hi, it’s [Sally] from [Brand] here, I’m calling about your [Contract Type] contract”).
Of course you can build coloured icons into formula fields and display them on the page layout, but they become really unwieldy very quickly, and take up fields out of your 500 fields per object quota (and yes, I have gotten to that limit on one object with one client, and there was good reason).
There is a whole history of Salesforce Indicators on our Github repo but the short version is that an excellent app was built by previous Salesforce MVPs Christian Carter and Beth Breisnes from an idea by Caroline Renard. The app was called Weathervane and worked in Salesforce Classic.
When I moved my main clients to Lightning I went back to the old way of building formulas but I knew how easy Weathervane was to set up.
During the early days of lockdowns when I had not much work to do as my clients had shut down also, I took the Salesforce course to learn to develop Lightning Web Components. It’s a good course and I thought this would be a great simple app to try my coding skills. Oh, it got very complex very quickly. It’s easy to build an app that is all hard coded, but making it configurable for use in any Salesforce org is much harder.
So I did what I always do and reached out to the community for help. I started on the Good Day Sir Podcast Slack community, Salesforce Stack Exchange, and our community of MVPs. I got excellent help from many developers and got some code up and running that I could use in my clients orgs. It was good, but not good enough. I put it up on my Github, started using it for my clients, and added a few issues that I wanted to get fixed, mainly to make the LWC more configurable using Custom Metadata Types.
Joining the Commons
Just over a year ago Tim Schug contacted me out of the blue on Ohana Slack and said that he’d taken the code I had written and rebuilt it using Custom Metadata Types – exactly like I asked for. Wow! So the next step was releasing it so everyone else could use this excellent app. I could not release it on the AppExchange as it is not my code – and either one of us releasing it on the AppExchange means we have to support it ourselves forever. No! This app is a community built app, it belongs to the community, so the best way to get it released was through the Open Source Commons, and be similar to other excellent community apps – like DLRS.
I approached Cori O’Brien from the Salesforce Open Source Commons team and showed her what we had done so far and what our plans were for future improvements. We were accepted to the November 2022 Sprint to start to work on the app together with the community. In our second Sprint, Tim and the contributing developers did an amazing job of getting a completely new Lightning Web Component built – The Key – to help Salesforce Admins build the indicators and help users understand the indicators more easily. We also did a lot of work on the documentation, and got through many of the other ideas and bugs.
Now Salesforce Indicators is available for you to install! You can install Salesforce Indicators in your production org right now. (Or try it in a Sandbox first, then deploy the Custom Metadata Type records to production).
Oh we have so many plans! We have found that the setup of the Indicators using Custom Metadata Types lends itself to other ways of viewing data on your Salesforce record page.
Back to my clients with the Contracts… They had complex contract documents to prepare, and integration with another system. It was imperative that all the data on the Contract, the Contact, and the Account was entered correctly before generating the document and sending for signing, or sending to the external system. With so many fields to enter they just needed a way of seeing at a glance what was still missing or what would cause them issues in the next steps. We don’t yet have a concept of “soft” validations in Salesforce… so that’s what we’d love to try to achieve. Imagine a grid showing all the fields that are important for the next step, but they are still empty… or toggle to see all fields and the values that will be visible on the contract document, or sent to the external system.
And after that, how about a highlights panel that displays more than 5 fields, or conditionally displays fields for different records, or different people, or shows an icon and the field value, or shows coloured text or coloured background on the field or on the whole panel even… so many possibilities.
If you like either of those options, or if you just wan to help us in any way, then come to the upcoming sprints – there is even one in Sydney in November 2023! Or just ask us a question on our Trailblazer Community Group.
Thank you so much to the following people for help and support on this journey so far:
- Previous Salesforce MVPs Christian Carter and Beth Briesnes for their original Weathervanes app in Classic and Caroline Renard for her original idea.
- Eileen Kapp joining us at our first sprint from another Commons project when Snowfakery was not at that Sprint, then helping us out ever since, whilst still working on Snowfakery.
- Christian Szandor Knapp (from the DLRS development team) for development help, plus a number of other developers from the Salesforce Community, especially those on the Good Day Sir Podcast Slack community.
- All of the People who have contributed to the Sprints in November 2022 and March 2023.
- My clients for inspiring me to need this app, make me build this app, and finding so many ways for me to use this app.
- Emma Keeling who is joining us to co-lead the Chicago sprint, as we are two introverts that like to build apps, and we really need a third person to balance out the team, and be help us in the marketing and release phase of the app.
- And lastly, and most importantly, Tim Schug, who has rebuilt all the code from the ground up, has willingly joined into the way of the Open Source Commons and being a co-leader on a sprint, helping aspiring developers to get a glimpse of how a pretty complex app is developed, and just for being there to say “Jodie, no one will use that feature other than you” and challenging me on the Product Management journey of this app. 🙂