Salesforce Release - Photo Credit salesforce.com

Salesforce has three major releases per year, giving customers new features, upgraded technology and, of course, bug fixes. Salesforce’s release schedule is consistent and predictable, which makes it easy for developers, admins, and marketers to plan for what’s next.

Prior to each Salesforce release, there is a preview period in which customers with a sandbox account can get early access to preview the new technology. This is a valuable time to get to know the new Salesforce release, but there are some things you should know before deciding to preview.

In this post, we will review the keys to success for previewing a new Salesforce release in a sandbox account.

Keys to Success

  • Plan ahead!
    • The Salesforce release cycle is consistent and well-documented. You can familiarize yourself with this process through a Trailhead module, and follow along with the scheduled dates on the Salesforce Trust
    • You never want to be surprised that your sandbox account got updated to a preview, so the time to plan is before that happens.
      • Pro tip: If you are in the middle of a project and you plan on deploying that into a production org, make sure that account sandbox does not get upgraded.
  • Know your sandboxes
    • It is important to know whether your sandbox is set up for automatic updates. Be sure to verify each of your sandboxes individually to avoid surprises. Use Salesforce Sandbox Preview Guide or Salesforce Trust Status to check your sandbox.
      • When you enter your sandbox org Id into the Salesforce Sandbox Preview Guide you have the choice of upgrading or staying on the current version until the production release. Once you select an option, you will get information on whether or not you need to take any action.
      • There should be at least sandbox that gets the preview so the new version can be tested for processes, communities, customization, and installed applications. This helps identify and address potential issues and gives you time to address them prior to the full production release.
Salesforce Release Sandbox Guide
  • Know your dates
    • Salesforce release dates for preview and full releases are posted up to a year in advance. Salesforce will give a ‘cutoff date’ for sandbox upgrades, and after that date you will not be able to preview. Understanding your cutoff date is important because:
      • Any sandbox created after the date will not be a preview sandbox.
      • Refreshing a preview sandbox after the update will revert to the previous release.
    • For more details and FAQs on the cutoff date, see Sandbox Cutoff FAQs.
  • Know the benefits and value add
    • Giving yourself time to review the release notes and test the new Salesforce release features can help you make your business users and customers more productive and give them a better technology experience. As you know, technology moves fast, and this is a great way to proactively prepare for instruction and adoption.

Deploying Sandbox Preview Changes Before the Release

I never suggest deploying changes made in a preview sandbox to production prior to the production update date. But sometimes these requests do arise. It’s important to understand is how you got to this point; was it something you could have planned for or was it an emergency request?

If you must deploy the changes early, there are two main options:

  • Try deploying the changes directly to production.
    • Generally, this is not recommended but it is possible. Make sure you have backups of everything you do not want to lose and have ample staff on hand to address issues as they arise.
  • Create a new sandbox after the cutoff date or use a non-preview sandbox
    • If you create a new sandbox after the cutoff date, it will not have the preview as mentioned above. You can deploy the changes, retest, and deploy from that non-preview sandbox.

Addressing Errors in the Release

Most updates will deploy from a preview sandbox to a production org before the final release. As with any deployment or release, there’s room for error. I always assume that this type of deployment will fail. Here are some common issues that can cause deployment problems during this prerelease timeframe:

  • API version may be other newer in the preview sandbox
    There are ways to possibly workaround this by using the older API version.
  • New features in the upcoming release
    If you take advantage of a new feature in the preview sandbox, it will not deploy in the production org until the new version is released. Remember to familiarize yourself with the exact dates Salesforce gives you.
  • Salesforce community deploy update
    There are times when the new release requires a community template update. If you make this update in the sandbox preview, you will not be able to deploy that community to production until the production release.

Key Takeaways

Proactive planning and understanding the cycle of Salesforce releases is the key to success. Previewing in a sandbox can lead to improved understanding of new features, finding potential issues early, and make for a smoother transition to the new release. Remember; it’s always better to be prepared than surprised!

Resources

Release Readiness Trailblazers – Salesforce success community group with all release related information.

Salesforce Release Notes – The release notes are available before the sandbox preview. Review the release notes to determine areas to review and one you may want to take advantage of moving forward.

Trailhead Salesforce Release Readiness Strategies – Learn how Salesforce releases new features and how your company can make the most of them.

Salesforce Trust Status – Lookup an org and see when the maintenance or updates will be available.
Note: You can also subscribe to an org for notifications.

Release Calendar – When release related materials (e.g., release notes) will be available.
Production org releases are schedule for the weekends of July 10th, July 17th (always lookup your orgs)

Key Dates Infographic – Summer 20 release key dates infographic

Salesforce Sandbox Preview Guide Use to look up a sandbox and set whether to update early or wait till the full release. Also shows update dates.

Sandbox Preview FAQs – Common questions related to the sandbox preview process.

Greg Jankowski

Greg Jankowski