Understanding The Salesforce Flow

When it comes to understanding a Salesforce flow many people find it challenging. However, it is not complicated at all because when the flow is clearly defined, it becomes simple to include it in a Visualforce page or rather add it as a link to a Salesforce home page.

Understanding The Salesforce Flow

In the past, the Flow designer could only be downloaded on a Windows machine. Currently, however, it is possible to create a flow right in the Salesforce user interface through a simple process that involves the following and in this order
  •  Your Name
  •  Setup
  •  App Setup
  •  Create
  •  Workflow and Approvals
  •  Flows

This simple interface within the Salesforce user interface enables the user to effectively plan their business process.

The Salesforce Flow Elements

Understanding a Salesforce flow dictates that you first have to know the major elements of a flow. These elements are as follows:

  • Step – This is simply a placeholder that is useful for drafting out various business processes
  •  Screen – displaying text or entering the user’s data
  • Decision – This is simply to route a flow
  • Assignment – making changes to the flow variable’s value
  • Record Create
  • Record Update
  • Record Lookup
  • Record Delete
  • Subflows – re-using the flow as part of the larger flow; very important when it comes to dividing large flows into small sections for ease in de-bugging.
  • Apex Plug-in – this is simply an Apex code piece that is part of a flow.
  • Connector – It is represented as arrows and controls how a flow is executed.

The Resources

These are other terms that could be useful in better understanding of the Salesforce flow.

  • Constant – This defines the fixed value that is usually used throughout the flow
  • Variable – Used to create editable values to be used in a flow
  • Formula – used to calculate the value using the numeric elements in the flow
  • Text Template – Used to create the text used in the flow
  • Choice – This is a standalone option that one can either reference or reuse within the flow.
  • Dynamic Choice – It helps in looking up data from the object’s records and it also dynamically generates several choices.
  • Global Constants – these are simply system values like “True”, “False” or “Empty String”

Using The Explorer Tab

This is simply a collection of all the elements and resources that are usually added to a flow. In order to use the explorer effectively consider doing the following:
  • To edit items on the list Double-click them
  • Click once on an item in order to view the details
  •  Use the search options to find the element or a resource quickly within the flow.

Some tips to help you further in understanding a Salesforce flow are as follows:

Using The Step Element

Go to the “Draft Tools” section and then diagram the business process flow using the “Step” element. The “Step” element is simply a placeholder and nothing more. However, using your stakeholders you can diagram a series of the business process steps in no time. After you have had every “step” listed out and you intend to get the business process working, simply select the “convert element” choice which contains double arrows. Remember that the “convert element” option enables the conversion of the common “Step” into the “Screen” that is the Flow’s building block.

Using The “Screen” Element

There are two ways in which you can create the “screen” element. You can either directly create a “Screen” element by simply dragging a “screen” element from the user interface section; or you can simply use the “convert element” option on the “Step” element. Note that a flow is simply a series of screens which are basically windows series that the user will have access to using the built-in “next” and “previous” buttons. There are a lot of options within the “Screen” element. You will find the “Add a Field” tab that can be found on the edit Screen window from which you can drag any “Choices”, “Inputs” or “Outputs” right to the screen designer portion that is located on the right side. Using the “Field Settings” tab you can easily customize the element that was dragged into the screen after you click on it.

Using The Decision Element

After the user makes a few selections and entries on the “Screen”, the user will then be directed to a different path which will entirely depend on the entries. From there the user will have to use the “Decision” element which is under the “Logic” section. The “Decision” element enables the flow to route the user to the next available screen that is correct.

Adding your Flow To The User Interface

After the flow is created the users have to have easy access. The flow in this case will be a vital link that can be easily accessed through many locations that include the homepage for the user or simply right behind the custom link button. There are several ways to add that flow into the user interface.

Method #1 – Adding It As The Custom Link On The Detail Page

  •  For your Object click on the Buttons & Links section
  • Add new Detail Page Link
  • Create The Content Source “URL”
  • From the detail page of the flow paste the URL right into the textbox
  • Save the Link and drag it into the Page layout.

Method #2 – Adding It As The Custom button On The Detail Page

  • Click the Buttons & Links section
  • Add new detail page button
  • Create the Content Source “URL”
  • From the detail page of the flow paste the URl right into the textbox
  • Save the button and drag it into the page layout

Method #3 – Adding It As A Link On The Page Layout

  •  Click on Customize-Home- Custom Links
  •  Make a new link
  •  Create the Content Source “URL”
  •  From the detail page of the flow, paste the URL right into the textbox
  •  Save the link and add it to a section under the App Setup, Home and Home Page Components
  •  Ensure that your component has been successfully added to the Home Page Layout (App Setup, Home, Home Page Layouts)

Method #4 – Adding Your Flow Into The Visualforce Page

This is a simple process because it involves adding a line into the Visualforce page. The name of the flow shows up on the Visualforce page.

With more businesses realizing the importance of the flow, many of them are working towards Understanding a Salesforce Flow and with the above guidelines, which are quite simpler and very useful.

More tips and tricks are available on salesforce tricks page.  
Amanda is the Lead Author & Editor of Rainforce Blog. Amanda established the Rainforce blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Salesforce usage.