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Migrating from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lightning

The Salesforce development roadmap has clearly signaled that Salesforce Lightning is the future of the Salesforce platform. But some customizations and apps may not be Lightning-ready.

When the Salesforce Lightning development framework was rolled out in 2014, it kicked off a steady transformation...

in development of the Salesforce CRM platform that has been undergoing refinement since then. While the earlier Salesforce Classic development tool enabled a fair amount of customization, Lightning made custom development less code-intensive and easier for users.

Salesforce has clearly indicated that its future roadmap hinges on Salesforce Lightning, not other development languages. But moving from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lightning development may involve a learning curve; despite the intuitive user interface, your company may need a change management strategy to get users ready for the new interface. So too, there are certain features and customizations that aren't Lightning-ready and that may require Classic, Visualforce or other development tools.

Part of the success of Lightning development is Agile development, so the framework receives ample feedback from users on usability, new features desired and more. Lightning is the newest version of Salesforce, it is still going through an iterative process. If you are considering migrating from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lightning, here are three key considerations in comparing the two development frameworks. 

1. Your current Salesforce use

Many of the core features of Salesforce Classic aren't available in the current release of Salesforce Lightning. As of the spring '16 release of Salesforce, you can't set up contact roles, account teams or sales teams. Some of these functions are being added, refer to the release notes for details on which features are available. If day-to-day functions your team needs are available only in Salesforce Classic, recognize that implementing Lightning may require users to switch back and forth between Salesforce Classic and Salesforce Lightning.

While Salesforce Lightning is going through growing pains, these fits and starts are an important part of Salesforce's innovation.

Not all APIs have been updated for Salesforce Lightning, so some of the applications you use with Salesforce may be unavailable for use with Lightning. To view apps that are Lightning-ready, go to the Salesforce AppExchange, then select Filter in the upper left-hand corner, select Lightning Ready and then click Apply. Also know that customizations of a company's Salesforce implementation may not transfer into Lightning. For example, in-line Visualforce pages, often used to provide custom analytics and access to custom-built features, will need to be converted into Lightning Components before becoming accessible in Lightning. Doing so dramatically improves function and helps move a Salesforce instance forward, but it also requires an investment of time and resources.

2. The importance of user experience

The Lightning interface provides a more intuitive user experience than that of the familiar Salesforce Classic. While adjusting to the new user interface may take some time for users of Classic, Lightning's advantages make the adjustment worthwhile. Interface customization is easier than ever with the new capability to drag-and-drop features or information into pages and reports. The interface also scales seamlessly, providing users with a consistent experience between desktop and mobile. Plus, each iteration of Lightning brings enhancements.

For example, when Lightning was first released, the side navigation bar had preset shortcuts that couldn't be customized. Now, you can drag and drop the features you use most frequently into this space, making the experience much more intuitive. In the State of Salesforce report, 90% of companies said that improving user experience of apps used by sales was important to their strategy. User experience is key to ensuring adoption of a technology. Training new Salesforce users in your organization will be much easier in Lightning than in Classic.

3. The growth of Lightning

Salesforce's release pattern indicates that, while it isn't abandoning Salesforce Classic, the focus is on Lightning. Many of the Salesforce Clouds, such as Marketing Cloud, have already received design overhauls if they were born in Classic. Newer clouds like the Financial Services Cloud have only been released with the Lightning Experience interface and easily integrate with Classic.

While Salesforce Lightning is going through growing pains, these fits and starts are an important part of Salesforce's innovation, as they work to perfect the customer experience. This Agile development is what makes Salesforce the powerful CRM system and platform that it is. It has the potential to quickly become a much more intuitive evolution of Salesforce than we have seen before.

About the author
Jason Guthrie is a solutions architect manager at Bluewolf Group, an IBM company. Guthrie is Salesforce certified in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Advanced Administrator and he is a certified developer. He has nearly 10 years of experience operating within a matrix environment, developing and delivering solutions to meet requirements as outlined to meet the needs of operational leadership.

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