The next release of Salesforce is coming very soon (September 7th for some Sandbox and Dev orgs and by October 25th for full release to all Production Orgs) so here is a (fairly) quick summary of the most interesting new features and updates. This is by no means a complete list of upcoming changes and the full preview release notes can be found at (Click Here). This post will only cover updates for Chatter, Force.com and Salesforce.com, please review the release notes for changes to Database.com, Site.com, Data.com or other Salesforce properties being updated. It should also be noted this post is based on preview release notes and the final release of Winter ’13 may not reflect the topics discussed in this post.
Management of multiple Salesforce organizations has never been easy so with Winter ’13 Salesforce is hoping to alleviate that problem. They are introducing the Environment Hub so that organizations with many organizations can record and track their orgs in one place. Users will be able to list, tag and organize their Salesforce Instances as well as search the list of orgs or see the relationships between different organizations.
Salesforce has also included additional chatter features such as polls, interface customization, an updated chatter desktop and media previews. Outlook and Salesforce integration has also had a major improvement. Now Salesforce information can be see directly in Outlook in the Salesforce Side Panel and more data is available for syncing back to Salesforce from Outlook.
A pilot program in the upcoming release is Salesforce Communities. Salesforce Communities bring enhanced collaboration features to Salesforce. These communities allow organizations to create groups made of internal users or to include external users such as customers with control over what is shared to the community. The communities can be branded to match the companies creating the communities. Those interested in Salesforce Communities should contact their Salesforce rep to see they qualify for the pilot program.
Salesforce and Force.com Development Changes
Salesforce has introduced a new field type for the Winter ’13 release called geolocation. Geolocation fields store the latitude and longitude of a location in Degrees, Minutes, Seconds or Decimal notation. A geolocation field also use up three custom fields (latitude, longitude and internal use) from the orgs governor limits when created and is called in apex as each of the three separate fields. Salesforce does not provide a geocoding service to translate addresses to latitude and longitude for this new field type.
Additional security features are being introduced with Winter ’13 such as organization wide permission sets (rather than user license based) and manual sharing on user records. Also included are clickjacking protect, OAuth and SAML improvements.
Polymorphic SOQL queries have been introduced for polymorphic relationship fields. If a relationship field could be for more than one object type than a SOQL query can now be written to select different fields based on the object type of the relationship field. See the documentation for specific examples.
Apex code has also seen a couple of changes one of which is that map keys and sets can now be non-primitive data types. They can now be user defined class types, sObjects, other collection types as well as standard Apex classes. Webservice and HTTP request callouts can now be tested natively in unit tests and importing test data for unit tests has been made easier.
Developers can now define default values for sObject creation or upload test data in static resources and call that data in their tests. Developers now have the option of avoiding of the hassle of defining new custom data for every single unit test. This hardly all of the development changes to Salesforce for this release so please review the release notes to see the other changes in detail.
A new development coming in Winter ’13 as a pilot is the Canvas Framework. This addition is so large it gets its own user guide (which can be found at http://www.salesforce.com/us/developer/docs/platform_connectpre/canvas_framework.pdf). Canvas Framework brings a whole new component to integrations between external systems and Salesforce.
With Canvas Framework developers will now be able to implement external web apps directly into Salesforce orgs themselves. The web apps will be framed into the org in a 800 x 900 pixel frame. These web apps can take advantage of OAuth or signed requests to authenticate the app from Salesforce. Canvas apps can also call back to the Salesforce org they current running into to get some context information about the org.
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