Salesforce Winter 22 Features – Salesforce Flow

By Derek Camp

It’s been a year since our last flow-focused blog post when we talked about the Winter 21 release. At that time, I was excited Flow was being positioned as the go-to automation tool and in the releases since, Salesforce hasn’t let us down.

During the Winter 22 Release Readiness Live sessions, there was a moment of panic that Salesforce would retire Workflow Rules and Process Builder soon! The good news is that these tools are not going anywhere… yet. However, Salesforce has made it clear that those tools aren’t being improved any longer and they’re focusing future automation investments on Flow.

With the Winter ’22 Release, Salesforce has addressed Flow’s remaining Workflow Rule and Process Builder feature gaps so they are planning to retire these features at some point – even though we don’t have a firm date, yet. Moving forward, Flow will be the preferred one-stop-shop for your automation needs.

Think of the transition to Flow like the transition to Lightning – the old ways (Workflow Rules, Salesforce Classic) are still available for now, but you’re missing out on new features and not getting the full value of your investment in Salesforce. Not to mention, Flow is just so full of fun and fantastic features that I can’t fathom why you won’t flock to it anyway! #Flowhana #Flownatic

Editor’s Note: During Dreamforce’s True to the Core session, it was announced that there is a formal end-of-life roadmap for Process Builder and Flow:

  • Spring ’22 Release: there will be a migration tool for Workflow Rules
  • Summer ’22 Release: there will be a migration tool for Process Builder
  • Winter ’23 Release: It will be likely that users will no longer be able to create new Process Builders or Workflow Rules at this point, but they will be able to edit/modify existing automations

They did make sure to be clear that this timeline will take customer feedback into consideration, so make sure to be involved on the Trailhead community!

The bottom line: If your org is using Workflow Rules and Process Builder (and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that is almost certainly the case for the majority of orgs), then you need to start learning Flow and thinking through your plan for migrating off of the legacy automation tools. We are excited about all the functionality Flow offers, and we have lots of upcoming content and offerings planned!

But for now, let’s get into the upcoming Winter ’22 Flow features!

Flow Management

Salesforce wants to make this transition to Flow easy for you – Optimizer now includes recommendations for migrating your Workflow Rules to Flows. There is also a tool on UnofficialSF called ConvertToFlow that will help automate some of this transition to Flow. Note the name: UnofficialSF is not officially Salesforce, so test out the tool in a sandbox and plan your migration process… just like you did with Lightning (right?). I wouldn’t be surprised to see this type of conversion utility coming to Salesforce itself in a future release.

Speaking of managing your Flows, did you know you could have multiple flow list views? I often forget about this since it’s in the Setup area and I usually focus my List View love on making users happy instead of building something just for me behind-the-scenes. Anyway, you should think about making some Flow List Views since there is so much flow information to manage. You could add a column for Triggering Event (record-triggered, for example). Now you can also display the Triggering Object. With this feature activated, you can understand all the flows you have against, say, the Case object, without having to rely on a naming convention or opening each flow to figure it out.

One last Flow Management item that I want to call out. Salesforce has hidden this in their “grab bag” list of API run-time improvements and I think it’s actually a game-changer. You can specify the default Workflow User now! Think back – have you ever seen a record updated by an “Automated Process” user? Or struggled when the “Automated Process” user didn’t have the correct permissions to do what you needed to do? Well, “autoproc” was a special user/profile that you couldn’t edit like a normal user or profile, so trying to assign permissions relied on tricks and workarounds. Now you can go to Process Automation Settings and specify the user to run your automation as! This might not have always impacted you, but it was a big deal when you came across this, so this is a winning change for me.

Flow Builder

All this goodness and I’m not even into the actual Flow stuff! As Harry always says, there is so much good stuff in these releases that it’s hard to pare it down. He also stole some of my thunder and talked about Omni-Channel Flows already in the Service Cloud post. Here are some more flow goodies that I’m excited about:

  • Record-Triggered Subflows Yes! Yes yes yes! This has been a painful gap in record-triggered flows. The primary use-case that I’ve banged my head against over and over is fault paths (you are including fault paths in all your flows, right?!?). If you standardized your fault path error handling in one flow, well you still had to rebuild it in every single record-triggered flow. But no more! Yes!
  • Scheduled Paths in Minutes Raise your hand if you’ve worked in all sorts of crazy formula field math to try to calculate “15 minutes from now” in a scheduled action. Or you’ve tried the “0 hours after” trick. Now, you can finally schedule your flows in minutes instead of only hours and days. These are tears of joy…
  • Button Labels This is fun! It’s beta, but I have to share. We are no longer stuck with the Previous and Next buttons. In the past, I’ve worked with custom button components from the #Flowhana community (several great options exist on UnofficialSF). Now Salesforce is giving us a little more control over the screen. Winning!
Preview of the new Button Labels functionality in the Flow Builder from the Release Notes

Auto-Layout Canvas Improvements I have a confession – I don’t use the auto-layout mode. I blame my OCD for wanting to get all the elements arranged just right (we actually have a #flow-art Slack channel to showcase our creations). Auto-layout is a boon for those just getting into things, but there were some feature gaps, so you might have found yourself switching back to the free-form layout anyway. Winter 22 closes a major gap by allowing you to connect other elements in auto-layout, like a “go to” connector rather than just “the next element in the layout”. Also, the loop element path now follows the same direction as the icon (clockwise).

Screenshot of the “connect to element” functionality from the Release Notes

Rollback Element You’re still thinking about record-triggered subflows and how you’re going to harmonize your fault paths, aren’t you? I wouldn’t blame you, and here’s another fault-path feature that is going to be helpful! Let’s say you’re creating a parent record and then some child records in your flow. The parent record creates just fine, but there is an error in the child records. Your fault path picks it up and no ugly errors but… your parent record is still created! Your data is stuck in this middle-ground. Now you can add a roll-back element so you can clean up what you’ve already created. The screenshot in the release notes shows the fault path pointing back to the screen element, meaning if you hit an error, you can clean up and start over. Or maybe you just want to clean up. Either way, rock-solid!

Screenshot of roll back fault path in the Flow Builder
  • Line Breaks You would not think that it’d be so hard to have a line break in a flow. But it was a thing – a painful, painful thing if you ever ran into it. In the running for Shortest Release Note, Salesforce says that line breaks are now honored!
  • Run Asynchronously This is for record-triggered flows only, but now you can run it asynchronously, which opens so much more possibility with integration-related functionality in flow. Sadly, you cannot control the whole internet, or even your whole network, from Flow; if you sent off an integration action, you could be sitting there waiting for a response, if you ever got one. Salesforce sometimes doesn’t even let you do this stuff for the expressed purpose that integration must run on its own time (aka “asynchronously”). So now you can just tell the flow to run asynchronously. That means, “do this thing whenever you get around to it” and you can move on while Salesforce handles the integration nitty-gritty. Neat!
  • Outbound Messages Since we’ve already got our Integration Hats on, here’s another integration-related flow improvement. If you were holding on to your precious workflow rules that used Outbound Message actions, you can finally migrate them over to Flows. From what I’ve been hearing in the #Flowhana, this is the final feature gap from Workflow Rules to Flow. So, if we say this differently – you really don’t have any reason to keep using workflow rules anymore.

Flow Debugger

I want to make sure that you’re thinking about the debugger. I’ve spoken to a few admins who think that “debugging” is something that developers do with confusing software tools while speaking magical incantations. Don’t be afraid! I love the debugger because you don’t have to activate your flow, test it, create a new version, activate it, test it. Did you know there is a cap on the number of versions of a flow you can have? Don’t ask me how I know that…

Over the past few releases, there have been improvements to make debugging your flow easier than that activate/test/clone/fix/activate cycle. You can run as another user, you can rollback changes, and you can see more information in the debugger. This might be a bit more advanced if you’re just starting out on flow, but it’s exciting to nerds like me. I wanted to point out some specific Flow Debugger items from the Release Notes:

Flow Orchestrator

Flow Orchestrator was a very exciting announcement when we first heard it, but all the information at the time was rather limited. Now that Flow Orchestrator is in Beta with Winter ’22, more people can get their hands on it. I think that this is going to be an exciting tool! But a word of caution – this might be an add-on product instead of a core part of the Salesforce platform, we’re still unclear at this point. #SafeHarborStatement

Have you built up a collection of flows that guide a record through its lifecycle? Perhaps you’ve wrestled with how to get the flows to execute at the right time and in the right order. Flow Orchestrator is meant to gather up all that work for you in one tool. You define an “orchestration” to enter and exit stages, even display “work guides” to the users. Additionally, Flow Orchestrator folds in some improvements to the Approval Process automation tool.

There is a lot of potential with Flow Orchestrator but it’s going to take some time to get used to it, as is the case with all new features that Salesforce releases. Perhaps I’ll be back for the Winter ’23 write-up to sing the praises of Flow Orchestrator!

Thanks for nerding out with me, fellow #Flownatics! Stay tuned for our next Winter ’22 post, where Jill dives into Experience Cloud! And as always, if you’d like help getting started with any of these new features, please reach out and one of our Solution Architects will get back to you!