Introduction to Salesforce

Salesforce is a cloud-based platform designed to help businesses sell, service, market, analyse and connect with their customers. It has standard features in the form of apps, which facilitate cloud storage, automation and communication. Beyond standard functionality, the platform itself can be customised to meet individual business needs.

At its core, Salesforce is a CRM. Customer Relationship Management. This is technology designed to optimise the sales and support processes among other things. It can directly grow sales and improve the customer experience. Hence the name salesforce. In Salesforce the CRM is standard functionality.

Salesforce has a lot to do with data and how its stored. To understand how data is organised there are three key terms:

  • Object. Analogous to a spreadsheet. Refer to a particular type of data such as contacts or events.
  • Record. Analogous to a row in a spreadsheet. Individual instances of an object. For example the person who is saved as a contact.
  • Field. Analogous to a column in a spreadsheet. Fields are associated with an object and serve to store bits of information about records, such as the phone number of a contact record.

Standard functionality includes a suite of common objects with predefined fields; optimised and ready to add records to. To name a few:

  • Accounts. The companies you’re doing business with. Can also be “person” accounts for solo traders.
  • Contacts. People who work at accounts. This is a good example of two objects being related.
  • Leads. Potential prospects, someone you might contact to see if they’re interested in buying something from you.
  • Opportunities. Qualified leads that have been converted into… well, an opportunity. Qualifying a lead creates an account and contact.

The Salesforce platform is what allows you to build your own objects, relationships and automations. Every business is different but most “things” have certain qualities, occur in different instances and are related with other things. This is why the objects, fields, records and relationships model can be applied well across all businesses.

Lightning is basically a modern user interface designed to be used more efficiently. It’s particularly useful for Sales reps.

Salesforce1 is a mobile app which allows most of the same functionality on-the-go.

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-


Introduction to Salesforce1

Salesforce1 is a mobile app which allows people to access most of their data on Salesforce from their smart phone. By its nature as a limited version of Salesforce and something that’s used “on the go”; it’s particularly important for the administrator to set it up effectively. Ahead of time.

If Chatter is enabled and the Salesforce1 navigation menu doesn’t have something else set as the top item: the user’s Feed will be their landing page. In this way the app feels a bit like using Facebook on mobile.

In the feed, there is: (1) A search bar, (2) sort and filter options, (3) feeds drop down menu, and (4) feed items.

There is also an Action Bar, which displays different actions based on which page you’re on. In the feed it shows global actions. In records it shows various items such as: productivity actions, standard and custom buttons, standard Chatter actions, and global and object-specific actions assigned to the layout for that record type.

There is also the navigation menu. This is somewhat like the navigation menu in Salesforce, except it displays vertically rather than horizontally.

The navigation menu has four parts. A search bar, menu items (which you’ve selected to be listed first), smart search items (displays recently searched items) and an apps section (with any items you place below the smart search area).

At a lower level there is the record view, which is unique to each object. Similar to Lightning, it has three tabs: feed, details and related lists. It also has a highlights section up the top, which is determined by the compact layouts for that object.

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

List Views

Records are displayed in “lists”. In lists; each row represents a record and each column a field. It’s a bit like spreadsheets but more dynamic, because you can filter and sort  them.

For our current purposes, a list only includes records of one particular object. To access an object’s lists; click on the object’s tab. There should be a drop down menu of available list views for that object. You can also edit the current list view by clicking Edit or create a new list view by clicking Create New View.

There are various options when creating a new list view:

  • Name
  • Filter by record owner
  • Filter by field
  • Filter logic (e.g. 1 AND 2)
  • Fields displayed

This process determines which records are shown in the lists. Finally though, the lists can be sorted. This is done by clicking on the field header to sort by. It orders them alphanumerically.

Page Layouts

Page layouts allow you to customise detail and edit pages in Salesforce. For example you can control:

  • Which fields appear and how they are arranged
  • Which buttons appear
  • What particular profiles see
  • Whether fields are read-only or required

Page layouts are each associated with a specific object. To create a new page layout; go to the object’s management settings. Go to page layouts then click New. Alternatively you can clone an existing page layout then edit it.

Editing of a page layout is done in the Enhanced Page Layout Editor. Pictured below.

Tabs, Buttons and Links

Three important features of the user interface are tabs, buttons and links. These can be added as needed and support a fairly high degree of customisation.


Tabs are found along the top of the screen and depend on which app is currently in use. Each tab is associated with an object, visualforce page or web page. Tabs are designed to offer quick access to these.

To see a complete list of the tabs available, go to the “+” symbol along the navigation bar, to the right of other tabs.

To add a new tab go to Setup > Tabs. Then scroll to type of tabs you want: custom object, visualforce or web. Here, click New. Follow the prompts.

Buttons and Links

These allow quick access to URLs or other pages.

To create buttons or links in standard objects, go the designated menu item for that object; found in the Customise section.

To create buttons or links for custom objects, go to the management settings for that object. Scroll down to Buttons, Links and Actions. Click New Button or Link.

Add the Label and Name. Notice the Display Type checkboxes; this is where you’ll define whether it’s a link or a button.

At the bottom there is a pane similar to that used for creating a formula. Here you’ll add the URL. You can also add merge fields so you can search for record-specific information, for example. Click Save.

Buttons and Links won’t appear on the object detail page until they are added to its page layout. In the Enhanced Page Layout Editor, they are found in the Buttons and Links sections, respectively.

Importing and Exporting Data

There are two options for importing data:

  • Data Import Wizard
  • Data Loader

Both accept csv files (which can be exported by Excel). In general choose Import Wizard if possible since it’s easier and more efficient.

Use Import Wizard if importing less than 50,000 records and they are custom objects or the accepted standard objects.

Choose Data Loader if importing 50,000 to 5 million records or records of an object not accepted by import wizard.

To use Data Loader you’ll have to download the client application. In other words it’s done using a desktop-type application outside of the Salesforce browser.

 Similarly, there are two options for exporting data:

  • Data Export Wizard
  • Data Loader

Data Export Wizard can only be used about once per week. It can be set up to run automatically, however. There aren’t restrictions on the frequency one can use Data Loader.

Work with Schema Builder

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

Schema builder provides a dynamic environment for viewing and modifying all objects and relationships, including all standard and custom objects.

One can add custom objects, fields and relationships simply by dragging and dropping from the Elements tab. It also allows you to determine exactly which objects it displays, which makes it easier on the eyes by eliminating the clutter.

Click Auto-Layout to automatically sort the objects in your schema. Go to View Options to set various preferences. It saves the layout of the last time you used it.

To access Schema Builder, go to Setup > Schema Builder.

Create Object Relationships

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

The platform differs from traditional databases in that it uses relationship fields rather than primary and foreign keys to establish relationships. A relationship field is a custom field on an object which contains a link to another record.

Relationships allow you to display data about other related object records on a particular record’s detail page. It works by storing the ID of the parent record and optionally providing user interface representations in both the parent and child records.

There are two main types of relationship fields:

  • Lookup. Links one object to another object in a looser fashion. Allows related lists etc.
  • Master-Detail. Links one object to another more closely. This means that child inherits various settings from the parent, is deleted if its deleted etc. Master-Detail is the only one that can use rollup summary fields.

Master-Detail is usually used when there is a direct dependency between two objects. Lookup relationships are appropriate when a relationship between two objects is required in some cases, but not always.

To create a Lookup relationship:

  1. Go to Setup > Objects
  2. Click the object that will be child object
  3. In the Custom Fields & Relationships related list, click New
  4. Select Lookup Relationship, and click Next
  5. In the Related To drop-down list, choose User, then click Next
  6. Enter Field Label
  7. Click Next
  8. Click Save

To create a Master-Detail relationship:

  1. Go to Setup > Objects
  2. Click Child Object
  3. In the Custom Fields & Relationships related list, click New
  4. Select Master-Detail Relationship, and click Next
  5. In the Related To drop-down list, choose parent object, and click Next
  6. Click in the Field Name text box and enter the field name
  7. Select the Read/Write radio button
  8. Check Child records can be reparented to other parent records after they are created if you want to be able to change the relationship field’s value. If you leave this box unchecked, you can’t change the value in the future.
  9. Click Next
  10. Accept the defaults in the remaining three steps of the wizard.
  11. Click Save

There is also something called many-to-many relationships. This is when a record can be associated with several of another object’s records. And that object’s records can in turn be associated with many of the first object’s records. For example: one position could be posted to many employment websites and one employment website could list many positions.

This is generally achieved by creating a junction object then creating two master detail relationships for it.

To create a Many-to-Many relationship:

  1. Go to Setup > Objects
  2. New Custom Object. Name the object something relevant such as Job Posting. Auto-number is recommended name type
  3. Go to the junction object and create two Master-Detail relationships looking up to the two parent objects

Whenever there is an instance of a Position being associated with an Employment Website for example, create a new Job Posting record and link it to the two relevant records.

Create Custom Objects and Fields

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

Organisations typically have specific needs which aren’t met by standard Salesforce functionality. Fortunately the Salesforce platform allows you to easily build custom objects and fields. These allow you to create a unique system which stores data just right for your organisation.

Custom objects would be used to store records of a specific type of data, such as “Candidates”. Whereas custom fields would be used to track relevant information about each candidate, such as “years experience”. Custom fields can be of different data types.

To create a custom object:

  1. From Setup, enter Objects in the Quick Find box then select Objects
  2. Click New Custom Object
  3. Fill out the fields such as Label, Object Name etc
  4. (To set up a new tab) under Object Creation Options, select Launch New Custom Tab Wizard
  5. Click Save
  6. On the New Custom Object Tab page, select a style
  7. Keep the defaults for the rest of the Tab Wizard, and click Save

To Create a new field:

  1. From Setup, click Create | Objects and click the object’s name
  2. In Custom Fields & Relationships, click New
  3. Select data type and click Next
  4. Follow steps and Click Save (the steps are different depending on the data type)

It’s recommended that you create help pages for each custom object, so users understand and know how to use them. To create a simple help page , using Visualforce:

  1. From Setup, enter Pages in the quick find box then select Visualforce Pages
  2. Click New
  3. Enter a label for your page
  4. Enter a unique name for the page
  5. In the Visualforce Markup area, enter information about custom object. For example dependencies, next steps, or other tips for using the object.
  6. Next, reference the help page you just created from the Object it pertains to. To do this: edit the custom object, select Open a window using a Visualforce page, choose the page you created, click Save
  7. h1>Help for the Candidate Object

    The Candidate object is for identifying and tracking individual candidates for job positions.

    Sort candidates by Name, Location, Last Modified, and Prospect Rating.


Now when people click “Help for this Page” on the custom object they’ll see the page you created.

There are some best practises for creating custom objects and fields. For example:

  • Make sure the naming is unique and easy to understand
  • Choose field types etc which are clean and efficient

Continue reading “Create Custom Objects and Fields”

Understand Custom & Standard Objects

-Based on Salesforce Trailheads-

The platform provides an enhanced database. It is comparable to a traditional relational database, in which:

  • Data is stored in tables
  • Each table has columns with particular types of data
  • Information is stored in rows of the table
  • Tables are related with one another using primary and foreign keys
  • Apps manage information by creating, reading, updating and deleting rows in table

The database in uses objects (which are analogous to tables) to store data. They do much the same things but contain enhancements which make them more powerful and versatile. There are two types of objects:

  • Standard objects. Included in Salesforce by default.
  • Custom objects. New objects that you create to store information unique to your organisation.

Relationship fields are how relationships are defined between objects. They play the same role as primary and foreign keys in a database.

In addition to storing data, objects also form the basis for interacting with data. Interface elements such as tabs, layout, and related lists hinge upon objects. There are other features too; such as validation rules, record types etc. All attributes about an object are described with metadata.

Every object consists of a set of fields. There are various types of fields:

  • Identity field. Each record has a unique, automatically assigned ID. 15 digits case sensitive or 18 digits case insensitive. Found in URL or in reports. This allows each record to be identified, searched for etc.
  • System fields. The identity field above is an example of a system field: something which is read-only and automatically generated. Others include CreatedDate, CreatedById, LastModifiedById, LastModifiedDate and SystemModStamp. These fields are automatically updated when an object is created or modified.
  • Name field. Human-readable identifier for each record. Can be either a text string or an “auto-number”. Required.
  • Custom field. Add custom fields to new objects or use them to extend the functionality of standard objects. When creating a custom field you must select a field data type. Examples of available types include: Checkbox, Date, Number, Email, Phone, URL, Picklist, Text, Text Area, Currency and Formula.
  • Relationship field. Defines relationships between objects. Comes in two types: Lookup and Master-Detail.