Dynamic Screens using Visualforce and Flows

Standard

 

Oh boy, do I have something real nice for you all today!

Real nice.jpg

Something Real Nice!

Let’s say, you find myself in the world of action adventure blockbuster “Pacific Rim”. You are tracking Kaiju in an object called “Kaiju” and and tracking Jaegers with an object called “Jaeger”. From the detail page of Kaiju, I create a new detail button called “Dispatch Jaeger” that runs a flow by calling a Visualforce page. I know this is not typical, but stick with me! This flow associates the selected Jaeger to the Kaiju so then the whupping can commence!

Kaiju vs Jaeger

That works pretty well, but a user will always have to be on a Kaiju detail page to dispatch a Jaeger, so it might be good to put something on the home page that allows someone to either dispatch a Jaeger on an existing Kaiju OR create a new Kaiju and Dispatch a Jaeger all at once.

The first place I went is the google verse because I thought I would just create a small Visualforce page with an input box on do some sort of URL hack to get it to push a value to the already created Visualforce page that launches my flow. Turns out, there is really no such thing as “small” when it comes to this type of stuff. Most of the articles I read involved some sort of controller, so my overhead went pretty quickly from one Visualforce page to Visualforce page + controller + tester.

Back to the drawing board I went!

2015-12-09 15_45_16-pacific rim whiteboard - Google Search.png

I remembered some early work I did with flows where I used a decision element as my starting point, which would then direct a user to certain pages. I decided to explore the option of using this, and it worked!

Here is what I did! I modified my dispatch Jaeger flow so that the starting element is a decision.

Flow Overview

Starting Decision

This decision checks to see if KaijuId is being passed over from the Visualforce page, which it would be if you were launching it from Kaiju Detail. If this value does not start with the prefix for the Kaiju record (This works WAAAY better than checking for null or not null), it redirects to the newly created “quick dispatch” screen element.

I added my Visualforce page to my home screen and boom, my flow correctly presented me with the quick create screen!Home Page

However, I still needed the ability to create a dispatch from the detail screen, so let’s click the button and see what happens!

Dispatch from Record Yep, the flow determines that I am running a dispatch from a record detail and points me to the right screen!

To sum it up…I was able to with Zero Extra Code, modify my flow so that two different screens are presented to the user based on if they were dispatching a Jaeger from a specific Kaiju, or were having to dispatch a Jaeger from the home page via a quick create function.

Dispatch jaeger VF code
You might also be wondering why I am using a visualforce page? Well, if you want to run flows in a community, you have to wrap that flow in a visualforce page…That being said, you can totally do this same type of thing with a URL launched flow too…the functionality is really the same with the novelty part of this being that it works within Visualforce.

So, that wraps this post up! Thanks for checking it, comments / questions are always appreciated.
Also, quick note, I will be at the Salesforce World Tour in Seattle on the 17th. I would be more than happy to talk about flows or other Salesforce awesomeness, just look for this guy:

Salesforce in Seattle!

I am smiling because I support Salesforce

The hot fudge for your visual flow sundae

Standard

Flows really are a ground breaking piece of technology.

were not worthy

It was evident last year at DF14 by how often there were talked about. More stuff is being added every release and there is a great big community of users!

UI based flows are awesome for internal user, just pop the URL into a button and instant awesome! A question that is constantly being asked is, how do I get the pop up window to go away”

See, when you launch the UI version of the flow, it does it’s merry little thing and then takes you back to the start, which is not always ideal! Being that we are all really clever folks in this community, there are a bunch of ways around this, but a lot of them require visualforce / apex or a URL hack…but not many of them actually address the needs I had:

  • I need this to run with in a community
  • I would like the window to close once the flow is completed

First things first, we need the flow to run in a community. According to page 115 of the Visual Workflow Guide:

“Enable external users to run your flow by adding the flow to a Visualforce page and distributing that page through a Force.com site, Customer Portal, or Partner Portal.”

OK, no big deal there. This topic has been covered extensively on this blog and others! As a side note, this is how you get flows playing nicely with Salesforce1, so head over here to learn more…I will wait!

Ah, you are back! Now that we have a flow that will run on communities or internally. How the heck do we get the flow to close out the window? Well, after googling various iterations of “closing visualforce window” I finally just decided to google something like “close browser window javascript” (This was after googling “Moscow Mule Recipes”).

I wish this just came from one source, but I was really using the google hive mind that day! What I ended up doing is using some javascript in a visualforce page called “ForceClose”:

<apex:page showChat=”false” showHeader=”false” sidebar=”false” applyBodyTag=”false” applyHtmlTag=”false”>
<html>
<head>
<title>ESCAPE</title>
<script>
function closeWindow() {
window.open(”,’_parent’,”);
window.close();
}
</script>
</head>
<body onload=”closeWindow()”>

</body>
</html>
</apex:page>

NOTE! If this code looks familiar to someone, please let me know so I can give you a hat tip from little corner of the web!
NOTE + 1! I still have my #ClicksNotCode card, so I would imagine this is not near good code!

Now I have a flow that runs in a Visualforce page AND a Visualforce page that should (in theory) close itself. It is time to…wait, I wish this step could be more dramatic…maybe you could read this in a monster truck voice? Just in your head so you are not disturbing your neighbor! OK, carry on…join the two pages together! Just set your finish location on your flow visualforce page to be the forceclose page!Add Finish Location

And, that is that! So, how does it work? Well, pretty darn good! The super sweet thing though is that this is reusable! I now used the “ForceClose” page 5 or 6 times in various flows, and that is really nice!

As always, thanks for reading the SFDCinSEA blog! If you have any questions or comments, let me know!

What (approximately) 48 hours with Apex has taught me

Standard

Friday afternoon, around 2:00 I got a message telling me to check out SFDC99.com. At first, I was skeptical, here is yet another blog that is going to teach me Apex / java/ html etc…I had read it all before and have failed just about every time. Part of it was how the knowledge was presented, part of it was me saying “It is 20XX, why am I still having to write lines of code” and part of it was that I can do a BUNCH of cool stuff already with the goodies in Salesforce, what will learning Apex do for me.

Apparently, not my future.

Where we are going, we don’t need code

This blog was different though, the tutorials were written in a conversational and logical manner that made sense and also didn’t come across as a developer talking to a kindergarten class.It also dawned on me…I was doing this stuff already. Sure, it might be through flows or crazy clever formulas and workflows, but the logic was there. My bias was pretty much erased completely once I saw this question:

1. If you can solve a business need using either a workflow or a trigger, which should you use?

Always use a point-and-click solution (workflow) when possible!

  • It’s easier for your team to create and maintain workflows
  • Workflows are easier to find when debugging unexpected behavior in your org
  • Workflows never break!
  • You don’t have to write test classes
Pretty much every developer I have ever worked with

In internet time, this meme is so old it farts dust

The reason this question really hit me was because I have ran into MANY developers that are code first, ask questions (and write documentation, test, get feedback on, deploy correctly) later.

Having seen and supported the aftermath of this type of developement, I really took a to the whole #ClicksNotCode and #ButtonClickAdmin philosophy to heart. Seeing a developer actually answer this question like I would was like a golden ticket.

Golden Ticket of Apex

First time your class runs with 100% coverage (even though trigger is 5 lines)

It told me I could still believe in all the good stuff that makes a system like Salesforce.com great WHILE learning the dark side.

So, it has been approximately 48 hours since I started doing this thing, and here is what I have learned:

1)      Just because you know code doesn’t mean you know salesforce.

2)      APEX is way more intuitive than whatever code you might have tried to stumble through last time.

3)      I am really thankful for my time supporting traditional CRM systems (Cough, Siebel, Cough) and having to muddle through gnarly SQL statements.

4)      Having to have 75% code coverage is tough, but if you think about what you are trying to do with your trigger and then build out from there, you will do good.

5)      Try and think how you would write a trigger to handle every transactions like getting coffee.

Next steps? Well, I just got my Head First Java book and have been working through that. Honestly, so far installing the JAVA SDK seems to be the hardest part (and I have installed Linux!), but that really isn’t a surprise since it is an Oracle Product.

Clicks not Code Larry, Clicks not Code

The new westcoast beef

I am also going to keep plugging away on the SFDC99.com tutorials. I have went through Chapter4 and am going to spend some time here getting a better grip on the basics before I move along. I am also going to keep “doing what I do” in terms of new functionality in SFDC. I love all the fun stuff like flows and workflows, but much like a padawan with a new lightsaber, I am going to try and use it as much as I can.

Nuts! My lightsaber test class only ran 45% of the lines!

I missed class picture day

 

Andrew