Summer ’13: Chatter Actions

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.

  1. Navigate to Customize > Contacts > Buttons, Links, and Actions.
  2. Click New Action and fill in the information.Creating an Action
  3. Edit the page layout to include the fields you want and save.
  4. 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:Predefined Values
  5. 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.:Edit Contact Page Layout
  6. 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.New Action
  7. 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.

11 thoughts on “Summer ’13: Chatter Actions”

  1. In Step 7, if you’d like to see feed items for records created through the standard buttons, you may want to turn on feed tracking for All Related Objects.

    In your example above, if you turn on feed tracking for All Related Objects for Contact via Setup | Customize | Chatter | Feed Tracking | Contact | You can also display feed activity for related objects | All Related Objects.

    Once turned on, you’ll see feed items the task you created through standard buttons.

    1. Thanks for adding this clarification. Although you can see all related objects in Chatter, I would advise you to think about how much noise that will present in the Chatter feed. If there is too much noise, your users could be turned off and not want to use it at all.

  2. Great post – helped us get up and running with Chatter.

    One issue some of our staff have noted is that the entries in the Chatter feed don’t show any of the content of the description section so they can be hard to “Read” for Service Cloud users trying to get caught up with a case.

    I haven’t been able to find a way to modify this – am I missing something or is this a limitation?



    1. I don’t think it is possible to post data from other fields when you create an object through a Chatter Action. You could write a custom visualforce page that emulates the same thing and also makes a custom post to Chatter, but that would be quite a bit of work.

  3. We created a Publisher Action on a Custom Object that creates a task. When the task is created and a person comments on it with a tag @[username] it is gray and does not notify the tagged user. When we hover over, it says “[username] does not have access to this record and will not be updated.”

    Have you heard any other issues with this? Or is it just an access issue I need to dig further into?

    1. That sounds like record level access. Look at the record the task is associated with and see if the person you’ve mentioned has access to that record.

    1. There are a couple of things an action can do.
      1. You can perform the action without leaving the page. This should make it a little faster for the user.
      2. Setting up a custom button and getting all the appropriate URL parameters is really difficult for people. Actions are much more “button click” friendly.
      3. Actions can be displayed in Chatter Mobile – this is the number one reason for me to use actions.

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