Winter '12 Release Rapid Reaction

Here is a rapid reaction to the Salesforce.com Winter '12 release.
Winter '12 Release Rapid Reaction

Salesforce.com Winter '12 Logo

Coming off of a jam packed Dreamforce 11 comes a feature packed Winter '12 release of Salesforce.com's service. For the first time in about a year I felt as if I was reading a real release notes document as opposed to the past few releases which have been quite slim to say the least. Lots of new features and even some enhancements to core functionality that all of us Salesforce community members have been clamoring for. Without further adieu here are my five favorite Winter '12 features plus a few things that caught my eye as intriguing and/or confusing.

New Reports Tab - Winter '12 Favorite


The Reports tab gets a much needed facelift in the next release. With the new interface it is much easier to get to all your analytical needs from once place. The most notable difference is that you can both get to and create Reports AND Dashboards from this single tab - a bigtime productivity saver as well as an adoption booster. There are also searches and filters for report folders now and the page is far less intimidating when you first land on it - well done Salesforce. +1 for the core.

Dashboard Filters  - Winter '12 Favorite


Sticking with the analytics changes, the Dashboards tab also got an upgrade. There are now filters within each dashboard so that you can take the data from one dashboard and filter it by another criteria. This can potentially save administrators from having to build multiple dashboards to get to close to the same data. Imagine having to build 30 reports because someone wants 10 reports filtered 3 different ways for visualization on a dashboard - no more. Just add a data filter and away you go.

Permission Sets - Winter '12 Favorite


The Permission Sets feature is near and dear to my heart since I've been involved with it since the very beginning. I've also had the chance to roll it out in it's pilot phase as previewed on this very blog. In addition to that I was able to speak at a break out session called I Heart Permission Sets - A Deep Dive Into Profiles 2.0 at DF11. In short, Permission Sets allow administrators to grant much more granular permissions (Application and System) directly to users as an add-on to their existing profiles. Make sure to check-out the YouTube video of my Dreamforce 11 presentation linked above for a much deeper dive because you are sure to love this feature. Score another win for the core.

Chatter Approvals  - Winter '12 Favorite


If Chatter and Social are going to be the next paradigm in Enterprise systems then we better be able to run our complex business processes from within the same paradigm. With Chatter Approvals we finally get to start to systematically add structure to our use of Chatter. Say you need to get an approval to offer a discount for a certain Opportunity - well throw that request into the approval process and it will get picked up by Chatter then get an approval from a manager right within the Chatter feed.

File Sharing from Chatter Files - Winter '12 Favorite


This is one of those features that I'm not sure everyone will love but to me it's an important step in making Chatter into a real Sharepoint or Intranet killer. In an instant get a short URL to a Chatter File and be able to share that file easily. The less steps I have to take to share something the better and this new feature is sure to make it more efficient to share files with people.

Where Winter Missed the Mark


In my opinion there were two specific areas of question within the Winter '12 release where I just wasn't exactly sure what to make of the announced features (or in one case the omission of an announced feature).

To start, SiteForce seems like an extremely novel idea. Make it really simple for marketing folks to manage the content on their websites and publish their sites out to the web. The interface looks to be extremely slick and the upload feature of assets seems like it will be a real hit with non-technical users. The rub here is that it seemed as if you are going to have to purchase an additional license to use SiteForce. While nowhere in the release notes does it explicitly say that this is going to be a tack on service for a fee, it did make mention of contacting  your Salesforce rep for additional details on licensing which generally means if you want to use this, you are going to have to pay extra for it. Not exactly what I was looking for when I first saw this technology about a year ago at DF10.

The looming omission from the release notes that caught me by surprise was touch.salesforce.com. Where is Salesforce touch? I could have sworn that at DF11 @Benioff stood up on stage and told us that everything we saw was going to be available during Winter '12. Of course there is the big Safe Harbor Statement that warns us that anything we see may not come true but still, I was really expecting to see Touch in the Winter '12 notes. Perhaps it will be a maintenance release type of thing or an off to the side release, nonetheless I was a bit let down by the omission.

Back to Their Roots


As mentioned in my introduction I was getting sick and tired of 70 page release notes and I was extremely happy to see a meaty document that I could sink my teeth into. Salesforce even addressed a lot of long standing issues with the core while continuing to focus on new product innovation and integrating new features. I know I'm looking forward to Winter 12 hitting my production org.

For more info on the release schedule and when it will hit your instance make sure to go over to trust.salesforce.com. If you'd like to chat more with me about Winter '12 feel free to tweet me @justedelstein or hit us up on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arkusinc.

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