Demystifying Point-and-Click Development on Salesforce

How I went from Salesforce newbie to certified admin in just a month, and your starter guide to doing the same

Editor’s note: For more on this topic, check out the recording of Phil’s recent Partner Marketing Power Hour, Succeeding with Salesforce: A Salesforce MVP’s Perspective.

I was first introduced to Salesforce in 2010. I had just started a new position with an up-and-coming marketing automation firm after six ironic years struggling with technology limitations at what was once considered a cutting-edge, high-tech firm in Atlanta. I had literally never even heard of Salesforce previously, let alone used it.

View of Atlanta from the Salesforce office

Well, fast forward just a month, and I was the Salesforce Administrator for 300+ users (and certified, no less). How? Outside of some circumstantial details and my desire to grow and learn…I would have to cite the ability to develop declaratively on the Salesforce platform as a major, if not the primary, factor in this sudden turn of events.

Understanding Point-and-Click Development

If you’re not familiar with the “point-and-click development” term, you may know it by one of its other monikers:

  • Clicks, not code
  • Declarative development
  • Configuration
  • Button click administration
  • Platform app building

Now that you have five different ways to reference it…let’s get to the real focus here. What exactly is point-and-click development? Take a look at this basic visualization:

Examples of application delivery approaches on the Salesforce platform

So, basically, point-and-click development is the means to build on the platform without using a lick of code. Here are some examples of how to understand the output of each of the approaches referenced above:

Examples of what might be delivered through the different development approaches available within Salesforce

What I quickly came to realize it that point-and-click development is NOT the industry norm. Rather, it’s something that Salesforce has heavily invested in for many years, not only spending the money necessary to provide a useful declarative platform, but going directly to users, admins, and developers to understand what they want.

A visualization of what point-and-click looks like compared to a traditional, inflexible system

This is huge, because it comes right back to you. The benefits of a platform with point-and-click development capabilities include:

  • No dependence on understanding syntax or a programming language
  • Allows business-minded individuals who are not code-minded to thrive
  • Significant career opportunity for those who embrace it

Let’s talk “P&C” development on the Salesforce platform. What is available to you? I’ll provide a quick flyover of the tools that allow you to develop declaratively. You can find deeper dives of each at

The Salesforce Data Model

What: The means to capture/store specific data, to group related data, and to build relationships between those groups

Why: A way to store and reference your data is the foundation for all other declarative work in Salesforce

Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Objects and Fields > Object Manager

Formula Functions

What: The means to leverage Salesforce-provided calculations and methods to determine values dynamically

​​Why: Formula functions eliminate a significant amount of customization (code) that would otherwise be needed for these calculations

​​Where: Various locations (embedded within other tools)

Formula Fields

What: The means to store dynamically determined or calculated values, most likely by using Salesforce-provided formula functions​

Why: Functions allow for a calculation at the point of use, but you may want to actually store the value for reference.

Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Objects and Fields > Object Manager > [Object] > Fields & Relationships > New > Formula

Workflow Rules

What: The means to trigger an action to make an update based on defined criteria.​

Why: Classic business process automation needs. Instead of depending on a manual process, automate it.

Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Process Automation > Workflow Rules

Validation Rules

What: The means to prevent an invalid data state

​​Why: Can you trust your users to always provide valid data? I don’t think so! ​Validation rules come into play for multiple scenarios, including: Standard business operations, ​data migrations ​& more

Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Objects and Fields > Object Manager > [Object] > Validation Rules

Visual Workflow

What: The means to automate extremely involved processes using complex business logic

Why: Because Workflow Rules and Process Builder can’t do everything. ​A flow can: execute business logic, interact with the DB, call Apex classes, collect data from users​

Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Process Automation > Flows

Process Builder

What: A relatively easy-to-use, visually-driven business process automation tool that can trigger a variety of actions.

Why: Classic business process automation needs. Instead of depending on a manual process, automate it, including: initiation of Apex Classes, record creation, record updates, sending of emails, initiation of Flows, posting to Chatter, initiating quick actions or approval processes

​​Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Process Automation > Process Builder

Lightning App Builder

What: The means to build and assemble a variety of pages using lightning components for internal use

Why: Because you can assemble tailored experiences for specific audiences to increase productivity within Salesforce

​​Where: Setup > Platform Tools > User Interface > Lightning App Builder

Community Builder

What: The means to build a community for customers, partners, or employees

Why: Communities provide a way to expose internal Salesforce data to an external group of users

Where: Setup > Platform Tools > Feature Settings > Communities > All Communities

There are even more tools on the platform, but these form a solid set of declarative development tools. Here are some next steps for you on your point-and-click journey:

Snag a Developer Org

  • Sign up for a (free) developer org:
  • Identify an application with real-world value (e.g., a business process that your company needs automated)
  • Build | Test | Refine
  • Show your boss!

Experience Trailhead

  • Sign up for Trailhead and blaze some trails:
  • Look for beginner | admin trails to start
  • Modules to review: Data Model, Custom Fields, Process Automation, Process Builder

Get Certified

  • Explore declarative developer certifications:
  • No-code certifications include: Admin, Advanced Admin, Platform App Builder, Sales Cloud Consultant, Service Cloud Consultant, many more!

I sincerely hope you have as much fun as I have had on my declarative development journey in the Salesforce ecosystem. Just remember…no code, no worries! You can build quite a bit with clicks, not code!

Want to learn more? Check out the recording of Phil’s recent Partner Marketing Power Hour, Succeeding with Salesforce: A Salesforce MVP’s Perspective.

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