The Top 5 Communities Enhancements in the Salesforce Summer ’17 Release

Summer ’17 is here. For those of who care about Salesforce Communities (Community Cloud), this will be your go-to reference to ensure that you are aware of the latest and greatest from Salesforce and understand how your organization or clients can benefit accordingly.

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Based on demand, business value, and just pure excitement, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Community Cloud features in the Summer ’17 release:

  1. Connect Your Content Management System (CMS) to Your Community
  2. Get More Criteria-Based Audiences
  3. Move Communities Between Orgs with Change Sets
  4. Upgrade Community User Licenses in a Blink
  5. Streamlined Rich Content Editor and Dedicated HTML Editor

Connect Your Content Management System (CMS) to Your Community [link]


Salesforce’s Take
: Is your company’s website built in Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)? CMS Connect lets you bring your AEM content, such as headers, footers, and banners, into your community. Dynamically render your components, CSS, and JavaScript on community pages for consistent branding, authentication, and ease of maintenance. CMS Connect is available in communities that are based on Customer Service (Napili), Partner Central, and any Lightning Bolt solutions.

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My Take: There’s a common challenge that’s encountered in the world of communities: the co-existence of a marketing-managee site with a community site. Specifically, most larger clients aren’t looking to gut their entire corporate site with a Salesforce community. Maybe one day, but not now. And that’s okay…that’s not an expectation on either side.

However, the presence of the two content management sources can create some tension. When the corporate site is pixel-perfect and administered through something like Drupal or Adobe Experience Manager, the community is at risk of being treated like an outsider. CMS Connect largely address that problem by providing an integration with AEM that will allow organizes to consume AEM content directly within the community. Nice.

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 Get More Criteria-Based Audiences [link]

Salesforce’s Take: Criteria-Based Audiences work with page variations to let you target specific audiences with specific pages. Previously, you had to create a whole bunch of different page variations and set criteria on each one. Now, you can create a set of criteria for an audience, and apply the same audience to multiple page variations. Starting Summer ‘17, we’re making some major tweaks and vast improvements on how you set up audiences. This functionality is available in communities that are based on the Customer Service (Napili), Partner Central, and Lightning Bolt solutions.

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My Take: This just keeps getting better. This particular improvement isn’t a ginormous leap from where we were in Spring ’17, but it makes the application of audiences to specific pages much, much easier. You can create and audience and apply it across pages instead of managing it page-by-page.

Additionally, this enhancement shows us the dedication to refinement of criteria-based targeting. I have been screaming for user-criteria-driven targeting for over a year now…let’s see if Winter ’18 is the release for that.

Move Communities Between Orgs with Change Sets [link]

Salesforce’s Take: You asked and we delivered! Change sets are now available for Lightning communities and Salesforce Tabs + Visualforce communities, making it easy to move your community between orgs that have a deployment connection. Create, customize, and test your community in your sandbox environment and then migrate the community to production when testing is complete.

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My Take: In the past, there was no declarative way to deploy a community from one org to a connected org. That was fairly big gap; it meant that one would have to either move pieces of the community through an IDE (like Eclipse) or apply changes manually. Yes, you heard me…manually. Not ideal.

Upgrade Community User Licenses in a Blink [link]

Salesforce’s Take: Upgrade users with customer licenses to either the Customer Community Plus or the Partner Community license. Yes, you no longer have to create entirely new users and migrate their data. Yes, you’re very welcome!

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My Take: If you haven’t walked through the process of “upgrading” a customer community user to the partner community user, you won’t appreciate this. If you have, you will be jumping for joy. Why? Because there really is no such thing as an “upgrade” from customer to partner community user licenses; you have to basically deactivate the old users and create completely new users. That is a royal pain in the something-or-other and I, for one, don’t want a part in it.

But now? An actual upgrade path. This really opens up the potential for flexibility with licenses well beyond what was possible before.

Streamlined Rich Content Editor and Dedicated HTML Editor [link]

Salesforce’s Take:To improve how you edit your page content, we moved HTML editing to a dedicated HTML Editor component. No need to upgrade your existing Rich Content Editor components unless you want to edit the content. In that case, we prompt you to move the content to the appropriate new editor, either Rich Content or HTML.

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My Take: First – links, images, and videos available to publish in your community in one click.  That’s great news. This rich content editor has always been ahead of what’s available in Lightning App Builder; communities experts, be kind and don’t rub this in the face of the non-communities admin at your organization.

Second – a separate HTML editor! This will drive much easier management of HTML content vs. using the rich content editor for multiple purposes.

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Enjoy the Summer ’17 release and follow me on Twitter for other Salesforce info!

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