Multi-Language Email Templates Using Visualforce Components

In the previous post, I showed how to create basic email templates using custom labels. This works well for simple templates that don’t need a lot of merge fields. In this post, I’ll show an alternative using Visualforce components.

First a high level overview. Rather than create a single email template, we will create one template for each language. We will then create a Visualforce component that retrieves the appropriate template, performs the merge and then outputs the content into another email template. Kind of confusing, but bear with me.

  1. Create Email Templates

Create an HTML email template for each language you want to use.

English Template
German Template

2. Create a Custom Label

Create a custom label that will store the Ids of the email templates created in step 1. You’ll just add a “translation” for each label that will contain the Id for the appropriate language. I’m not a fan of hard coding Ids and you could get fancier by using the API name of the email templates instead, but for simplicity sake, I’m just using Id here.

3. Create Apex Controller 

Now we need an Apex Controller that can take an arbitrary email template Id, merge it with a record Id, and output the final result. The key here is we are going to use Messaging.renderStoredEmailTemplate that takes an email template Id, a what Id and  a who Id and creates a merged email. See the gist below for the code.

4. Create a Visualforce Component

This component will return the HTML or text body of the merge email template. See gist below for the code.

5. Create Final Email Template

For the final email template, you need to create a Visualforce template that uses the component created above.

  • For the subject, you have to use the Substitute function I used in the previous post because subject can’t use custom controllers.
  • Set the language so the custom labels pull in the correct email template Id.
  • Reference the component for both the html and plain text version.

Wrapping Up

In this post, I’ve introduced another way to dynamically translate your email templates. You can also use this technique to reduce the number of workflows and email alerts you create for other types of notifications. I’d love to hear other ideas you have on how to use the dynamic email component.

Multi-Language Email Templates Using Custom Labels

As you start expanding your Salesforce org, you may find you need to send notifications in multiple languages. In this post, I’ll show how you can do it using Custom Labels. The documentation alludes to using labels, but doesn’t really explain how to do it.

Before we get started, you’ll need to enable Translation Workbench and enable the languages you want to use.

In this example, I’m going to use a field on the record to determine the notification language. Create a picklist field on the object you want to send the notifications from.  Use the new feature available in Spring 17 so you can have a different API name than label as in the screenshot below.

Next, we need to setup some custom labels. In this example, I’m just going to create two custom labels: one for the subject and one for the body. Obviously, you might need many custom labels to support your real email templates. In the subject, you’ll notice I put in a placeholder ({0}). I’m going to use this in the email template to substitute in the record name.

Now that we have the custom field on the object and the custom labels setup, we can create an email template. We have to use a Visualforce email template to get it to work correctly.

Test it with a record with the language field set and you’ll see the template translated.

Implementing this in the real world gets complicated quickly when you want to merge in fields from the source record, combined with different language syntaxes. I attempted to show one technique using a placeholder, but it isn’t easy to use. In my next post, I’ll show another way to do it.


Updating Custom Report Types With All Available Fields

So, you’ve created a custom report type and have been using it for a while. One day you go to use it and realize it is missing all the new fields you’ve added to your org. You can go and edit the report type and drag in the new fields, but of all the interfaces in Salesforce, the Custom Report type one has to be one of the most maddening. (I reserve my anger at State and Country Picklists for the worst at being so damn slow.)

Rather than drag in individual fields, we can use the metadata API to solve the problem. Here are the steps I use:

  1. Create a new report type with the same relationships. Leave it in “In Development” status. This new report type will contain all the fields in your objects by default.
  2. Download the metadata for the report types. You can use MavensMate, workbench or other tools for this. If you use Workbench, here is a sample package.xml file you can use:
  3. Once you get the two metadata files, copy everything in the <sections> tag over from the new one to the old one and save.
  4. Use your preferred metadata tool to push the updated report type back to Salesforce.

Live Agent Sensitive Data Rules

After implementing Live Agent, you may find yourself scratching your head at how to write patterns to prevent sensitive data from being sent over chat. Sure you can just type in strings, but you’ll quickly realize that strings aren’t good enough. The documentation says it supports JavaScript Regex statements, but doesn’t provide much information beyond that. I found Mozilla’s documentation to be the best at helping me with the patterns.

Here are a few patterns that I think you might find helpful. They might not let you Make America Kittens Again, but you can still have some fun with it.

  1. Naughty words case insensitive: you might want to prevent certain bad words to be sent, but quickly realized that case is important in these patterns. for example, you can block “ass”, but what about “Ass” or “ASS” or even “AsS”? Use square brackets to group the two cases together like so:
  2. Naughty words with drawn out vowels. Sometimes people like to repeat vowel sounds in curse words. We can block those too using {n,} where n is a number and the comma means at least that many occurrences of the preceding letter. You can also use the square brackets like in the above example to use character substitutions.
  3. Credit card numbers or Social Security numbers: credit card numbers are either 15 or 16 characters long and are predictable with what number they start with (Amex starts with 3 and 15 long, Visa starts with 4 and is 16 long, etc). Use \d to look for any number and then {n} to tell it how many digits there are (replace n with a number). Use * for optional characters so you can look for strings such as the hyphen between the numbers.
  4. Match whole words only. Maybe you have a word you want blocked when it is used by itself, but it wouldn’t make sense to mask it when part of another word. Let’s say you are anti-fun. you can use \b for word boundaries. In this case I’m using it before and after the string so it has to stand alone, but you can also drop one of them so the match is at the end or beginning of a word only
  5. Blocking strings at the beginning or end only. I can’t think of a great use case, but you can use ^ for beginning and $ for end.
  6. Edit: after a silly back and forth on Twitter with @EvilN8, I had to add one more. This illustrates how complicated you can make things to try and prevent it from masking things you don’t mean to. And I didn’t even get all the possibilities with this one either.

Use Field Aliasing for ConvertCurrency

This post is more of a cautionary tale so you won’t be a bonehead like me. I recently wrote some code that queried OpportunityLineItem and used the ConvertCurrency function to get the TotalPrice in the user’s currency. The problem was that later in the code, I did an update to that same record. Since I had converted the currency using the formula, the update replaced the value with the converted value, but left the record currency in the foreign value.

My solution was to use a new feature in Spring 16 that lets you alias ConvertCurrency fields. With the field aliased, updates no longer change the monetary value, and problem solved!

OpportunityLineItem oli = [Select Id, convertcurrency(TotalPrice) usdprice from OpportunityLineItem where Id = '00k4B000003ESxW'];
// Use get to access the value
// Safely update without overwriting the value
update oli;

Avoiding Hard Coded URLs

Hopefully you know that hard coding links in Salesforce is a no-no. You might one day be migrated from one instance to another (NA1 to NA9999, or whatever they are up to these days). You also want to make sure that your links work in all your sandboxes. There is nothing worse than clicking on a link in a sandbox and all of a sudden you are in production!

First of all, I recommend that you implement My Domain. This means that you won’t have to worry about moving from one instance to another. Plus you need it on to use Lightning Components. You want those, right?

For the most part within Salesforce, you can just avoid the beginning part of the URL and use relative URLs. So, a URL button that takes you to a Visualforce page can just have ‘/apex/MyPage’.

The first “gotcha” is with managed packages. If you want to link to pages in a managed package, then you can still use a relative URL. Just use the format of ‘/apex/NAMESPACE__ManagedPage’.

Another good trick is to use the URLFOR function within Visualforce. This future proofs your pages so that if Salesforce ever changes the URL scheme (hello, Lightning), everything will still work. For example, to get the link to edit an account, I can use the following syntax.


Email templates are another tricky part of links. Since the email is being sent out, you can’t use relative URLs. You need to link into your instance. For the object that is triggering the email, you can use the merge field called Detail Link. This looks like {!Opportunity.Link}.

But what if you want to provide a link in your email to a related record? For example, an email gets sent from an opportunity, but you want a link to the account? First, let’s create a formula field on the object that will trigger the email and call it Base URL and make it a text formula field with the following formula:

LEFT($Api.Partner_Server_URL_360, FIND( '/services', $Api.Partner_Server_URL_360))

You can now use this formula field in your email templates to link to other records or Visualforce pages. So, from an opportunity email, the merge field would be: {!Opportunity.Base_URL__c}{!Opportunity.AccountId}.

By implementing these changes, you can be assured your links will always go to the correct instance.

Salesforce Productivity With Chrome Extensions

I’ve seen several posts recently about Chrome extensions that help with your productivity in Salesforce. Here are a few I use every day.

Boostr for Salesforce

This new extension has several features. My favorite is that it removes the placeholder text from the search box in setup. How many times have you clicked into that box before the page finishes loading?

Salesforce Admin Check All

This handy little extension adds a checkbox at the top of admin page lists so you can quickly grant access to a big list of fields.

Salesforce API Field Names

I have mixed results with this extension. When it works, it replaces the labels on a page with the API names. It doesn’t work on feed based layouts and sometimes the order gets off. I haven’t quite figured out the reason why.

Salesforce Colored Favicons

If you ever have multiple orgs open at once, this extension changes your favicon different colors based on the instance you are on. This lets you easily know if you are in production or a sandbox.

Salesforce Quick Login As

I’ve saved my favorite for last. You can login as another user from any page in Salesforce and it takes you directly to that page as the user. No more going to setup, finding the user, logging in and then navigating to the page you want to look at.


Deleting a Single Item From the Recycle Bin

Sometimes you just want to remove a single item or a subset of items from the recycle bin without emptying the entire thing. I found this long-standing idea on IdeaExchange, and then realized I could do it in Apex.

First step is to find the Id of the record you want deleted from the recycle bin. I use workbench to create my SOQL query and query deleted items. Be sure to select the option to include deleted and archived records. Here’s a query to get the IDs of deleted cases.

select id from case where isdeleted = true

Once I have the ID, then I can use workbench to execute anonymous Apex. Just put a comma separated list of Ids in the List:

Database.emptyRecycleBin(new List<Id> {'500U000000IonltIAB'});

Get Ready for Dreamforce 15

With just over a week left until the hordes descend on San Francisco, there’s a lot to prepare for. The big announcement for Dreamforce is going to be the new Lightning Experience. This new look of Salesforce is going to change everything! Rather than wait till you get to Dreamforce to begin learning about Lightning, I recommend taking a look at the new Trailhead modules. By finishing those modules, you’ll be better prepared and ready to jump into more advanced topics when you get to Dreamforce.

The Admin Trail – Migrating to Lightning Experience is best for existing admins who are interested in the impacts Lightning would have on your org. It walks you through the basics of Lightning. One of my favorite parts is the chart that compares the differences between Lightning and Classic. If you only do one thing before Dreamforce, look at this chart!

On the Developer side of things, the Developer Trail – Lightning Experience walks developers through Visualforce and Lightning Components. Unfortunately, since Lightning isn’t GA there aren’t the hands-on projects you get with a lot of other modules. One of the coolest things Salesforce is doing as part of the Lightning push is sharing design best practices. The module on the Lightning Design System is fantastic for getting an understanding of how to build pixel perfect components.

With these new Trailhead modules, you’ll be prepared for Dreamforce and ready to attend some awesome sessions!

If you are still looking for sessions (that don’t have anything to do with Lightning) to attend, here’s my shameless plug for the two sessions I’m presenting:

Writing Effective and Maintainable Validation Rules Tuesday, September 15, 12:00 – 12:40

Writing Effective and Maintainable Validation Rules Friday, September 18, 10:00 – 10:40

Apex Testing Best Practices Thursday, September 17, 4:30 – 5:10

Trailhead: The Awesome New Way to Learn Salesforce

I’ll admit it, I didn’t get Trailhead when it was launched at Dreamforce last year. There were only a few badges, and I didn’t really see what the big deal was. Fast forward a year, and holy cow! The Trailhead content just keeps getting added. I love the humor that the Trailhead Team injects into some of the modules. Catter, anyone? I also love how Trailhead actually makes you work in an org and checks your work.

As content in Trailhead increases, I’ve been pointing more and more people to Trailhead to learn Salesforce. Want to move into an admin role? Take the Admin – Beginner and the Admin – Intermediate trails. Want to see why I love developing on the Salesforce platform? Take the Developer – Beginner and Developer – Intermediate trails.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot about Trailhead at Dreamforce next month.  Speaking of Dreamforce, there is a great badge on what to expect and what to do. This one has a lot of the humor I appreciate so much.

To get started in Trailhead, you need two Salesforce logins. The first login you need is your profile login. I use a developer org login for this. It is the same login I use for the forums and success community. The benefit here is that it isn’t tied to your production org login, so when you get a dream job at another company, your profile will move with you. The second login you need is also a developer org. This login will be used to complete your challenges. It is important to use a developer org for this login as you may need features not available in a sandbox or your production org. And why would you clutter a production org with all of that stuff anyway?

Once you have your logins squared away, you are ready to start learning. One of the cool things the Trailhead team is doing is providing modules on add-on products. One such example is Event Monitoring. By going through this module, you can gain an understanding of these new features and decide if it is something you think your production org would benefit from. You can be much better informed about the features without ever having to go through a sales pitch!

So, get on Trailhead and start exploring. Once you get a few badges, you’ll be hooked and want to collect them all! Tips and Tricks