Is it Winter ’21 yet?

Published by Stephanie Sargent, September 1, 2020
Product, Salesforce, Tips

By Sarah McCarter, Salesforce SME at Provar

Sarah McCarter, Salesforce SME at Provar

While the temperatures might not justify breaking out your scarves and mittens quite yet, Salesforce is cooling things off with some pretty sweet features in the Winter ’21 release!  So grab some hot chocolate or a pumpkin spice latte and get cozy with our five favorite features to check out in Salesforce Winter 21.

Top Five Favorite Features to Check

Here are our top 5 favorite features for this coming Salesforce Winter 21. We deem these features as innovations across the Salesforce Customer 360 platform. Let’s go and check it out

Easily Identify Changed Opportunities

Sales managers and reps will be thrilled that they can now see at a glance how an Opportunity is trending from a list view or Kanban board.

These new visual indicators track the opportunity Amount field with up or down arrows as the Amount increases or decreases as well as horizontal indicators for when the Opportunity Close Date is pulled in or pushed out. This should help managers provide better coaching during regular one-on-one meetings and flag Opportunities that need attention. For Winter ‘21, this feature will be limited to users in Unlimited Edition orgs, but expect this feature to be rolled out across all orgs with a future release.

Salesforce Winter 21 features Easily Identify Changed Opportunities

Dynamic Forms and Actions

Dynamic Forms and Actions were released in the Summer of ’20 as a beta feature, but with the Winter ’21 release, both features are now generally available.  

Use Dynamic Forms to bring a whole new level of customization to your page layout with features like inter-field dependencies. For example, checking the Subscribe to Emails checkbox will dynamically display the Email Address field. 

Keep in mind that Dynamic Forms are still limited exclusively to custom objects for the time being, but look for this functionality to become available for standard objects in a future release as a true page layout replacement.

Dynamic forms and actions are valuable features in Salesforce Winter 21 release

Dynamic Actions allow admins the flexibility to only display actions when a record meets the criteria you define. For example, an admin could display a Create Action Plan action that displays when an Opportunity is in the Qualification stage and have it fall off the layout once the Opportunity has progressed to the next stage.

Unlike Dynamic Forms, Dynamic Actions are now available in beta for some standard objects (Account, Case, Contact, Lead, or Opportunity) by selecting Enable Dynamic Actions (currently in beta) from the highlights panel component when editing the Lightning record page.

Salesforce has also rolled out Dynamic Actions for mobile (limited to custom objects) in a new beta for this release as well. You can enable this feature by selecting Enable Dynamic Actions (Beta, desktop only) from the highlights panel for the Salesforce mobile app in the properties pane.

New Email Template Builder

With Winter 21, Salesforce continues to upgrade the Email Template Builder with a new interface that allows creators to drag elements onto the canvas. Unfortunately, this functionality is limited to users with the “Access Lightning Content Builder” or “Manage Content Builder” permission sets, but for those orgs with Marketing Cloud access, this could be a huge time saver.

Previously this level of customization required custom HTML, but now you can create a dynamic, modern template as easily as:

  1. Select a component
  2. Drag it onto the canvas
  3. Enter the details and style of the component.

With these improvements, it’s a great time for admins, who have been reluctant to convert some of their Classic email templates over to Lightning email templates, to take stock and evaluate if the time is right to make the migration.

email template builder  in Salesforce winter 21


While there aren’t any show-stoppers being rolled out in this release, there are PLENTY of smaller Flow updates that admins have been asking for!  

The largest functional change in this release allows admins to trigger a flow to run before a record is deleted. This allows admins to update records related to the record being deleted, for example, a cleanup flow that updates or removes previously populated data.  

For my fellow perfectionists who are always adjusting their elements to have equal spacing and straight connecting lines, you can now utilize the new auto-layout functionality to automatically align and auto-space the elements on your canvas.

There are also a few new features available when debugging flows, including the option to debug the flow as another user in a sandbox. Admins can also debug without opening a new tab directly on the canvas by highlighting the route the flow took by using the Debug on Canvas (beta) option. For active flows, flow builder error email messages now include a link to the flow that errored out and highlights the element where the flow failed. Unfortunately, the new auto-layout canvas and resources don’t support highlighting the failed element so you’ll have to use these features separately for the time being.

For screen flows, admins now can create multi-column layouts by using the new section component. Salesforce has also updated the behavior for picklists and multi-select picklists so that they are no longer interactive within the screen canvas as the behavior did not always perform as expected.

While configuring your flow, there are several new features for admins to take advantage of including the ability to specify entry criteria for record-triggered flows, which means flows only run when they meet the entry criteria as opposed to every time a record is created or edited.

In a similar vein, admins can now set decision elements so they execute only when the triggering record is updated to meet the condition requirements. This allows for filtering out record updates that are unrelated to the flow’s use case and avoids reprocessing records that previously triggered the flow. (Hooray for efficiency!)

With Winter 21, AND/OR functions as well as custom logic are now available on Get, Update, & Delete Records elements. You’ll also be able to access all global variable options from anywhere in Flow Builder that supports variables which will allow for more personalization while running your flows.

Lastly, after you save a flow resource as either View as Rich Text or View as Plain Text, the text template flow resource remembers your text view setting.

Release Updates (Critical Updates)

We recently discussed the importance of reviewing and testing Critical Updates and with the Winter release rapidly approaching, now is a good time to adopt a testing strategy.

With the Winter ’21 release, you’ll notice when you navigate to Critical Updates, you’ll be redirected to Release Updates, which was available in beta in the Summer ’20 release. This new interface provides users with a prioritized list of updates along with steps to address the specific update.

Release Updates (Critical Updates) new interface in Salesforce winter 21 release

Two particular updates that will be enforced with the winter release (and may potentially break automated tests that you currently have in place) are the Restrict Access to @AuraEnabled Apex Methods for Guest and Portal Users Based on User Profile and Restrict Access to @AuraEnabled Apex Methods for Authenticated Users Based on User Profile updates.

Both of these updates enhance your org’s security model by requiring that you grant explicit user permissions for users (including Guest, Portal, and Authenticated users) to access Apex Classes containing @AuraEnabled methods. 

For more information on all of the Release Updates that will be available with this release, take a look at our consolidated list which also provides some additional information for testing priority.   

Want to learn more?

Why not join our upcoming webinar, What’s New in Winter ’21? In this webinar, we’ll highlight the most impactful Winter ‘21 changes that you’ll need to be aware of, share the best of Provar’s latest features, and give you a sneak peek of what’s coming next on the Provar roadmap. Register now to reserve your place.

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