Go with the flow… (Salesforce Flow)

Earlier when you required a custom feature in your Salesforce installation to support your business process, the only available options were to create a brand-new app and integrate it with your Salesforce or to use existing features in a creative way to achieve the same objective. However, Salesforce evolved and we now have got Salesforce Visual Flow, also known as Salesforce Visual Workflow or simply Salesforce Flow.

Visual flow can be summed up as an app inside the Salesforce app. Analogically, what methods are to object oriented programming, visual flow is to Salesforce. To be more precise, a Flow is a wizard or a set of screens in sequential order which can be used to complete a business process. This business process can be anything like filling out a form, or working on a script or even filling out a survey. The Flow can fetch, edit, and create all Salesforce information in an appealing, quick and smart manner.

Difference between Salesforce.com Flow and Workflow 

Salesforce Flow or Visual Workflow is often confused with a feature named Workflow in Salesforce and that’s forgivable! They may be similar in a certain fashion such as assisting in automating a business process, but they both are different. Here is how:

  • Visual Workflow is more of a front-end based tool. It is mainly used when you must display or collect information through screens making it more visible to the users. Workflow, on the other hand, execute pre-defined rules behind the scenes. They are used to process information rather than collecting it.
  • While Workflows are mainly triggered by events, Visual Workflows are triggered by user actions. However, in Visual Workflows, you can also Auto launch Flows i.e. start a Flow without user interaction. Since they are triggered without user interactions you cannot include steps, choices, screens or dynamic choices in your Auto Launch Flow.
  • Flows can fetch, delete, update or even create records on multiple objects but Workflows are defined to affect only a single specified object. The exception to this is the case of Workflows having to update fields on specified object’s related master records.

How to create and trigger Flow?

Flows can be used to execute a business logic, interact with Salesforce Databases, call defined Apex classes and guide the user through screens. There are three main aspects of a Flow creation process:

  • Designing: The main reason they are called Visual Workflows is that Flows come with a drag-and-drop interface Flow designer. This designer, called Cloud Flow Designer, is cloud based (in latest Salesforce versions only) and can be used to diagram a Flow, configure how the Flow executes, and define what it affects- all this without writing a single line of code.
  • Management: You can manage your created Flow through the setup area. Through this, you can edit your Flow’s properties, activate it, deactivate it, delete your Flow or even trigger it at your will.
  • Flow Runtime: Once Flows are defined, users can run the Flow through any user call-to-action like a button, tab, link, or even directly from the Flow URL. You can also trigger Flows through an Apex class or a Flow trigger workflow action.

You can create Flows and open Cloud Flow Designer by going through the following steps
Name-> Setup-> App Setup-> Create-> Workflow & Approvals-> Flows-> New Flow.

Once you have defined your Flow you can easily add it to any Visualforce page or you can add your Flow’s URL link to your Salesforce installation’s homepage.

You can create your Flow triggers by going through the same above process and instead of clicking Flow, click Flow Trigger.

Using Flows to send an Email

One of the most useful applications of Flows is to send template-less emails without even configuring other parts of Salesforce. You can use an email element to send emails via Flow. This Flow is available in Salesforce Enterprise, Performance, Unlimited, and Developer Editions only. Here’s a step by step process to create such a Flow.

One of the most useful applications of Flows is to send template-less emails without even configuring other parts of Salesforce. You can use an email element to send emails via Flow. This Flow is available in Salesforce Enterprise, Performance, Unlimited, and Developer Editions only. Here’s a step by step process to create such a Flow.

  • First create a Flow by going through the step mentioned above App Setup-> Create-> Workflow & Approvals-> Flows-> New Flow.
  • Define a button in the pallet and then drag an email element to the canvas.
  • If you are using multiple email elements then it’s best to enter unique general settings to each element to help differentiate between each.
  • The next step is to specify the recipients for the email. The email element allows you to send emails to five different addresses.
  • Specify the recipients for the email. You can use the email address parameters to specify up to five email addresses.
  • You can define multiple input parameters for the Flow. You can configure the Flow to enter literal values, enter merge field values, select and use an existing Flow resource, or even create a new Flow resource. You can use these settings to configure the Body of the email, Subject of the email, recipient email addresses, sender email addresses, and sender type. You can even define additional parameters by clicking Add Row and selecting a parameter.
  • Click OK

Surveys using Flow

Flow is also quite useful for creating, recording, and analyzing surveys. However, creating a survey is a little complex process to explain in this post itself. So, I would be writing another post focusing solely on creating and analyzing a survey using Flow.

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