Introducing the Architect Decision Guides

The Salesforce Platform offers a wide array of tools to build and deliver apps fast. It can be a challenge to understand how to combine these tools and fully unlock the power of the platform and know you’re delivering apps with the best speed, scalability, and features to empower your whole app delivery team to be productive.

How should you evaluate trade-offs and advantages of the wide array of tools available on the Salesforce Platform? How can an architect help their teams and customers choose the right tools for the right tasks? How are teams at Salesforce thinking about these choices and features, and what impact will this have on roadmaps?

We created the Salesforce Architect Decision Guides to help you answer these questions, with the latest information. Today, we’re launching two guides:

Why did we start with these particular guides?

When it comes to record-triggered automation, we’ve introduced many new options and capabilities within different tools. Today, Before-Save Record Change Flow now surpasses Workflow Rules, as the fastest tool for no-code field updates to a single record. And After-Save Record Change Flow addresses many of Process Builder’s greatest flaws, like poor list views, limited decision branching, and abilities to query for other data. We’ve also added transformational functional capabilities to Apex — like Security.stripInaccessible finally going GA, helping enforce field- and object-level data protection. Or, one more thing: you can now create a single invocable Apex action and accept any sObject type as input from a Flow.

When it comes to building forms, we’ve introduced a new low-code solution in Lightning App Builder: Dynamic Forms (available as a non-GA preview in Summer ‘20). With it, you can organize the fields on your record pages directly in your Lightning page, which means you can say goodbye to the page layout editor! Over in Flow Builder, we’ve seen innovation in the form of conditional visibility — supported on all components — and support for LWCs in flow screens. And the LWC framework has welcomed Lightning Message Service, which enables communication between Visualforce and Lightning components, and CSS-only components, which means you can set your styling rules once and use them everywhere.

You can learn all about these new features in the release notes. But the release notes won’t talk about what problems we built different features to solve, or how we recommend you approach integrating features into your overall strategy. That’s where the Salesforce Architect Decision Guides can help.

How to Use These Guides

The Architect decision guides provide up-to-date, transparent assessments of the various form-building and triggered automation tools on the Salesforce Platform from product teams. They also contain general recommendations from those teams about which tools we believe best address different use cases. Our hope is that the information in these guides empowers you to make better, more informed architectural decisions that will set you and your team up for success in the future.

We’ll talk about what you will find in these guides below. But first, let’s talk about what you won’t find:

We want these guides to be a trusted resource to help you make informed decisions, and give you a clear view into how our product teams think about the capabilities and uses of various features. But it’s up to you to make the ultimate recommendations of what tools, what approaches will best suit the specific needs of the teams, the businesses, the environments, and toolchains you’re building with and for.

Our Approach

Both guides use the same decision-making approach to evaluate tools and make our top line recommendations about tool preference.

Step 1. Identify which tools offer the functionality or level of customization needed to meet your requirements.

Requirements can mean a lot of things. We use a few, specific categories for requirements to help focus this step:

Step 2. Choose the tool that allows you to best leverage the available skillsets of your team (now and into the future).

App development and delivery takes a team. Maintaining and iterating on apps takes a team. Sometimes, these teams are made up of the same people. Sometimes they’re not. In order to set every team up for success, you need to evaluate the set of tools you could potentially use to build your solution (the outcome of step 1) with the skillsets on your delivery and maintenance teams. We know there are many ways to build a single solution. We recommend prioritizing the path that makes your teams the most productive.

Here are some things to consider when making your decisions:

A developer deeply skilled in Apex may be best suited to delivering (and maintaining) solutions that address server-side engineering problems. Meanwhile, an experienced Salesforce Admin will probably more deeply understand the needs of the business, and be best suited to deliver and maintain solutions translating business requirements into performant, out-of-the-box Salesforce configurations. A developer with a background in JavaScript might be best suited to delivering and maintaining a custom user interface that takes advantage of web standards, reducing the amount of custom code and streamlining the costs of maintenance. Ideally, how you choose to build your solution enables each team member to play to their greatest strengths — today and tomorrow.

Our Architect decision guides make use-case focused recommendations, using our perspectives on the kinds of skills each tool might require a team member to have, and offer insight into the rationale we used.

Now, let’s take a brief look at each guide.

Architect’s Guide to Building Forms

Salesforce offers a handful of tools to build interactive forms on the Platform, spanning the entire low-code to pro-code continuum.

Spectrum of tools on the low code to pro code continuum, explained in the Architect’s Guide.
Spectrum of tools on the low code to pro code continuum, explained in the Architect’s Guide.

Representing low-code, Dynamic Forms in Lightning App Builder and Screen Flows in Flow Builder. Hanging out in the middle of the continuum is the ability to extend Screen Flows with Lightning Web Components. And representing pro-code is Lightning Web Components.

The guide examines the functionalities and major considerations when designing a form and which tool works best for each consideration. For example, based on the high-level findings chart below, if you’re building a multi-page, cross-object form that needs to meet sophisticated UX requirements, then your best bet is a screen flow with embedded LWCs.

The guide goes deep into each of these considerations and weighs different options for various potential use cases and requirements. To find out what tool to use for your next form, read the guide here.

Comparison table of form building tools from the Architect’s Guide.
Comparison table of form building tools from the Architect’s Guide.

Architect’s Guide to Building Record-Triggered Automation

The tools you can use to automate logic on the Salesforce platform have blossomed. Life used to be simple when Workflow Rules were the go-to for a click-based solution and an Apex Trigger was your option for extending with code.

Example of a DML anti-pattern using Flow from the Architect Guide.
Example of a DML anti-pattern in Flow, explained the Architect Guide.

With Flow Builder now supporting almost all record-change triggers across both before and after save order, the ways you can optimize logic with clicks and code is more nuanced. The guide for record-triggered automation looks at the common automation use cases and explores which tool is recommended.

The guide goes deep into each of the tools and listed out some of the pros and cons for each of the tool when weighed against the consideration factors listed above. To find out what tool to use for your next record-triggered automation, read the guide here.

Comparison table of triggered automation tools from the Architect’s Guide.
Comparison table of triggered automation tools from the Architect’s Guide.

Resources and What To Do Now



A tech publication for architects, by Salesforce Architects

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