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Why your development future lies with Salesforce Lightning Experience

The future of development on Salesforce is with Lightning Experience. Here are some tactics as you prepare for migration.

Salesforce's latest release, Winter 2017, is now out; with it comes the latest iteration of Lightning Experience,...

many companies can start evaluating the framework in earnest. Now is the time for companies on Salesforce Classic, the older development platform, to consider migrating to Lightning.

Many companies may be apprehensive about migrating to Salesforce Lightning Experience, particularly if they have customized Salesforce. So let's address why migrating is important. First, Salesforce has no plans to improve the Salesforce Classic development experience going forward, which means the capabilities available in Classic today are what you get. In the future, new feature development will take place in Lightning Experience, not Classic. Second, in my small userbase, users are enthused about Lightning and want to migrate. Most important, however, Lightning brings better performance, faster development time, and greater flexibility to create components, maneuver between desktop and mobile and personalize for every user group.

Now that Lightning has solved some of the hardships of early adopters and addressed voids in the user interface (UI), companies need to evaluate Lightning to determine whether the team is ready to migrate to Lightning Experience. Salesforce just launched the Lightning Readiness tool within the Lightning Experience launcher in Setup. While this tool can't find every item that needs to be changed for customized instances, it provides insight into the level of effort your team will need to take for Lightning Experience to work.

At my company, that list was long and daunting, but after sitting down with the team, we figured out that some of the problems involve just small changes to the language of the code to optimize it for Lightning or a simple copy and paste for others, such as email templates. After addressing these items, we conducted a full regression of features and identified a few areas that needed improvement or required upgrades of third-party apps in the system that the Readiness tool did not detect.

If you have custom buttons, custom email templates, those things tend to break with Lightning.

Once you have identified your company's readiness, most instances will prove to be worth a move to Lightning at this point, at least in a 2017 timetable, if not immediately. For my team, we expect over a three-to-six-month period to roll out Lightning, by conducting pilots and then full launches to each department over the course of many months. This allows us to focus on specific features first, then roll out the upgraded platform to teams that don't need the items we are working on and to bring back feedback on issues they find. It also allows Salesforce more time to solve problems for our teams who use features not currently working in Lightning, such as campaign members. With a sales team that is anxious to use the tool, we do not expect as many problems because they work mostly with features that have already been resolved, often improved drastically, within the new UI.

Also consider your in-house resources' knowledge of Lightning. Salesforce Trailhead is an important first step for developers to learn the UI and how to utilize it properly. Additionally, Salesforce is conducting multiple webinars on Lightning, including how to code more effectively within the language and how to use Lightning-only-available features. If you do not expect your team to be fully established by the time you kick off the process and switch to Lightning Experience, consider hiring consultants who have experience with Lightning, can help guide you on best practices and help evaluate how to transform your old Apex and Visualforce into Lightning-conducive language.

As you review Winter 2017, it's even more clear that Lightning is the future of Salesforce, and it is likely that Classic will be phased out in the future. Getting ahead of the game makes sense for companies. Even if you don't migrate users today, you should evaluate the new UI and plan future development to be Lightning-compatible. The more prepared you are for this switch, the more exciting the change will be and the more likely you will see immediate benefits of the Salesforce Lightning Experience once you migrate to that UI.

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