Visual Flow: A Love Hate Relationship – Jenny’s Admin Tip #73

When the news that a declarative tool with the power of code came onto the ‘market’, which went by the name of Visual Flow, we Admins leapt for joy. Ah, the possibility of a happy, knowledgeable and extremely efficient relationship with a ‘developer’ style tool was no longer a dream for declarative brains. Rather it was right there, at our fingertips. Sure it might be a long distance relationship skill set wise, but we Admins had found our match – and not before long it logically just made sense!

However, there was a catch. For some, despite being the perfect tool (on the surface), things started to become unhandled. Gaps opened up and the once perfect vision of code, declarative and user splendor was starting to fade and communication was neither here nor there. Though doom appeared to be on the cards, there are exceptions!

With the backstory out of the way, anyone who has used flow will understand that it has it’s ups and downs. However instead of focusing on the downs let’s open the communication and find out what it is we love to hate about Flow and how sticking it out could just turn out best for us in the future. Cue the pros, the cons and the compromises to a lasting Flowing relationship.

Visual Flow: The Ups

  • The independent Admin. The last thing you need is to feel like you are being smothered. As an admin using Flow you can have the freedom to create powerful processes without the need for code, unit tests (YAY!)  and arguably, without the need for a developer. You just need your fingers and that logical brain of yours and in no time you and Flow are generating and executing complex and lasting processes.
  • Out with the old in with the new. Do you find that what you have just isn’t cutting it anymore? Are gaps showing and the relationship between user and process breaking down? Before you decide to throw it all in and head to code, why not try and work out the differences with what you already have. I’m talking about tweaking the process on the fly. In no time at all you can have a brand new working version of the old process and a happy relationship all around. WOW. Deep!
  • A POWERFUL relationship. Sometimes there are things in the relationship that are just not worth hanging on to. Holding on to mindless information can only create barriers.  So I say if you don’t like something, then get rid and say HELLO to a clean fresh start. Yes, with the power of flow you have the ability to delete records.  
  • It pushes the right buttons. We all have metaphorical buttons that we want pressing – well the good ones anyway. Imagine if they could be triggered automatically?! Hold the phone! Thanks to Process builder you can execute your flow from when certain criteria is met. Oh la la!
  • The relationship goals for Admins and Visual Flow are endless – Even Mike Gerholdt saw this back in 2014 with his 5 cool things you can do with SF Flow.

And the downs

  • No communication. Ever get that feeling that someone is talking but not actually saying anything at all – Ahem I’m talking to you Flow. Yes the communication between Flow Errors and Admins can be a nightmare. We know there are ways around to handle this communication issue; building Faults into your flow,; receiving system generated emails, but without context troubleshooting can difficult. How can we get over issues if we are not clear of the root cause. Flow you need to open up more.  
  • It’s complicated. We all like a challenge, and damn there are days where you just wanna throw in the towel. But here’s a little secret –  Did you know the ‘only use of an obstacle is to overcome it’? Hey, no one said working with Visual Flow would be a walk in the park – logically, it can hurt the brain! And if you think it is going to be as simple / easy as Process builder, then I’m here to disappoint. My tip. Before you can get really intimate with Flow best to know a bit about it first. Why not start with SOject variables.
  • 3 is not a crowd. It’s ok to speak to someone else if you don’t know how to overcome an issue. When flows get complicated and trust me they can, the chances are that you are going to need the help of a developer. I’m thinking resource vs code!

The Future of Visual Flow 

  • Phwoar! It may have been the charm and intelligence that attracted you to Flow rather than its looks, however you are about  to fall in love with Flow all over again. Thanks to Spring 17, Flow has had a Lightning makeover. The new look fits in with the rest of Lightning Experience, but it’s also available in Salesforce Classic. Prepared to be wooed.
  • Work it. If looks are not that important to you, then maybe improved functionality will get you going. Flow has been bulking up in the screen area. As a result, the only breaking up you will be doing here is the screen layout and it’s field into two columns instead of the one. Everyone is going to love this one!
  • Hello. If communication is a problem then look no further. It has taken a while, but Flow has been working on its communication skills. When something happens you are not only going to know when something went wrong, but it will open up and tell you why it went wrong.  It’s all about the context, context, context.

Ah I can feel the love already.

The point is that though Flow may have its faults, it is always trying to improve itself so that it can look good and work well with it’s better half  – you! So embrace it.

Want to learn more about Visual Flow? Check out the VF knowledge article or head on over to Trailhead and start earning new badges today – it’s the logical choice.

See you soon



Salesforce Visual Flow
By Jenny Bamber
14 February 2017
Jenny's Admin TipsThe Good Systems Blog

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