The Summer ’13 release of Salesforce offers a new feature called Publisher Actions. They take up a lot of pages in the release notes, but I want to try to explain why I’m excited about them with an example. Last month, Marc Benioff announced that Chatter would become the primary interface for Salesforce. Chatter Publisher Actions seem to be a step in that direction. They allow users to do a lot more right within the Chatter activity stream.
So what are these Actions? We saw a hint of them in the Spring ’13 release when Salesforce added the functionality to create tasks right from within Chatter. Fortunately this could be turned off because it was half baked. In most custom orgs, we have lots of record types and custom fields. When you created a task using the new task feature in Chatter, you were limited to standard fields and your default record type. That made it unusable. With the Summer release, Salesforce has dropped this functionality. If you want to use it, it you’ll have to recreate it by setting up an action.
To get started using Actions, you’ll need to enable them in Chatter. Go to Setup > Customize > Chatter > Settings and Enable Publisher Actions.
Create an Action To Create a Task on a Contact.
- Navigate to Customize > Contacts > Buttons, Links, and Actions.
- Click New Action and fill in the information.
- Edit the page layout to include the fields you want and save.
- Optionally, set predefined values for some of the fields. This is so much easier to do than URL hacking the new URL. Let’s predefine a subject:
- Edit your Contact page layout to include the custom Action. I’m also going to remove the Poll option, since I don’t want my users creating Polls on Contacts.:
- Finally, navigate to a Contact and click the New Task button in the Chatter stream. You’ll notice our default subject and that it is automatically related to the Contact we are viewing.
- Once the task is created, we will see that the task was created in the Chatter feed. This is the only time we will see this in the feed. If you create a task through the standard buttons, it won’t get logged to the feed.
Pretty cool stuff. I’d like to see the ability to have more than four actions visible in the Chatter feed. Once you get above 4, they start getting hidden behind a More drop down. Your users will need to know to look under there. Make sure you arrange the actions accordingly.
Something I haven’t touched on in this post is that there is also the ability to link an action up with a Visualforce page. That is something I plan on experimenting with in the near future and hope to report back on my findings.
Where do I think this is all going? The UI of the new actions feels a lot like Touch and I think that this will be how they deliver custom button functionality to that application. It is also moving more of the UI into Chatter and I expect to see a lot more things like this in the next few releases.