Editor’s note: This is the first part of an ongoing series to highlight the latest innovations in Lightning Flow and Lightning Bolts.
Roarke Lynch is the Technical Lead on Appirio’s Global Solutions and Innovation team. Founded just over a year ago in 2017, our Global Solutions and Innovation team is a small but scrappy collection of individuals who’ve embarked on a mission to design, develop, and showcase new and innovative solutions. Our team’s solutions aim to quickly drive value and accelerate adoption, all while highlighting Appirio’s unique point-of-view on emerging technologies and trends.
An introduction to Lightning Flow
With Winter ‘18, we’re starting to see the emergence of a new capability in the Lightning Platform — Lightning Flow. You’ll see this phrase a lot in the future, so let’s learn a little more about what it is and why it shouldn’t be ignored.
First off, Lightning Flow is an umbrella term for improving business process automation, experience, and reuse. Because of Lightning Flow we can already:
- Expose Visual Flows on Lightning Pages, App Builder, Community Builder, Quick Actions, Utility Bars, and Lightning Out
- Replace Visual Flow screens with Lightning Components
- Connect the Platform Event bus to Process Builder
- Dramatically simplify integrations via External Services
- And so much more …
This is a big deal and a big set of updates worthy of our attention, but what do these new capabilities really give us?
Let’s be honest with each other. When you read the words “business process automation” you picture some clunky, impractical interface that you’re deeply ashamed of using. Don’t worry, you’re in good company. We’ve all had to build or deliver an unsightly interface. In the past, that ugly beast was all we had to offer. The good thing is, we’re not in the past any more.
The “Lightning” in “Lightning Flow” means that we get to use the full power of Lightning Components when we develop and deliver our Flows.
There is no limit to your visual vocabulary when you build on Lightning — and that’s by design.
With a Lightning Flow, you can create and deliver a consumer-grade experience to your internal teams and your customers through Communities and Lightning Out.
Reuse is queen in the software kingdom. It is also baked right into Lightning Flow. The cool cousin to reuse is sharing. Lightning Flows are built to be shared, particularly through Lightning Bolt Solutions.
When you use a Lightning Bolt Solution, Lightning Flows will drive the experience.
And here’s the best bit. The Flows from the Bolts you utilize are like Lego bricks — you can mix and match them to build exactly what you need, without having to start from scratch.
Did you already solve that ‘Customer Refund’ problem? Just embed it wherever your team needs it with a few clicks.
This also means that it is going to be simple to share the processes around a business problem, just like we can already share the schema.
I think you see where this is going — now that you have beautiful, shareable processes, you can deliver real value more quickly.
But it’s not just time-to-deliver or time-to-develop that goes on a diet with Lightning Flow. The amount of time your teams need to learn or adopt new or changing processes is going to drop dramatically.
There is an adage in storytelling — show, don’t tell. Lightning Flows are how we apply that adage to your org. It allows us to start thinking about defining actions that modify and extend our data.
Do you need to upgrade a customer’s level of support? You don’t need to read a procedural guide for what records to edit and picklist values to select, just click the “Upgrade Customer” button and a Lightning Flow will walk you through all the changes that need to be made.
In the future, when you need to alter or extend your customer upgrade process, just change the flow and your new process is immediately and automatically delivered to your support teams.
This all sounds good, right? So how do you start?
Like most big changes, think about starting small at first, to wrap your head around Flow design. It is a different kind of thinking, and it will help to start with a simple process you understand front-to-back.
Draw yourself a flowchart, spin up a scratch org, and starting building.
Want to see it in action?
See us introduce Lightning Flow onstage at Dreamforce ‘17 with our partners at Integra
In our first year, the Global Solutions and Innovation team produced six unique solutions, including four Salesforce Lightning Bolt solutions, which are all available on the AppExchange today. Over the course of the next year, you can expect to see several more new solutions rolled out to market. Follow along to find the latest information on our Global Solutions and Innovation team and the solutions we’re building right here on the Appirio Resource Hub.