My First Real World Lightning App

We have all seen and heard the craze about Salesforce Lightning, it is striking EVERYWHERE. When I first saw lightning last summer, it got a big “NOPE” tag because of the vertical navigation bar. I can change….but…not to a Salesforce vertical navigation bar…
Thankfully, the cries of the community were heard, and it went horizontal. Then it got real….what was holding me back?

I started tinkering with Lightning on Trailhead, and even created a vergiphyy basic Lightning app to keep track of a collection of my sons toys. But that was all fun and games in a DevOrg. I knew I wouldn’t truly learn anything until I had to produce something that was going to be publicly used by real users reporting useful data.

Then the opportunity struck (lightning…struck…see what I did there?). My company was tracking success rates for a specific type of manufactured product on excel spreadsheets, and having trouble measuring historical data and running snapshots on moments in time. So I came to the rescue.

Starting out from scratch, I was tempted to build it in Classic because I could do it quick and easily to start user testing, but fought the urge and started up in Lightning. This app wouldn’t require anything lightning didn’t have already, so I bit the bullet, and set myself up in lightning.

As a poinFlashpoint_(DC_Comics)t and click app builder, Lightning is like Flashpoint . Nerds like me will get that reference. However, if you don’t, it’s like an alternate universe where a lot of things are the same, but slightly different. For example, you don’t just go to setup search and type “Objects” anymore for a list of standard & custom objects, there is now an “object manager” link which opens a new window (which takes some getting used to). Similar with “app manager” for your list of apps.

That wasn’t really tough to get used to at all. But starting to play with the Lightning App Builder (should be called page builder), got a little more involved.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of working in Lightning yet, if you have OCD with your layouts…then Lightning App Builder is definitely for you. Instead of having to fiddle with Visualforce (or like me, beg for someone to help you), you can design to your hearts content with app builder.

With multiple page templates, adding rich text and making the overall layout more comfortable and relevant for a better UX, and lightning components, there is so much you can do to make a page better with more relevant content for your users.

The only drawbacks are having multiple layers to accomplish this. You need to set your page layout first, which displays which data will be on your page and requiring input from your users, then set your lightning page which is more for aesthetics and general UX. Its one extra step (hopefully less in the future), but well worth your time.

giphy-downsized (2)Let’s chat about path combined with Lightning actions. Previously only available in SF1 for classic, actions are available in the general UI in Lightning. Actions simply allow you to determine field updates and set values(among other things) with a simple click. So instead of your users fussing with a “order status” type field and setting it to “complete” or “in progress”, etc, they would just click a button and it sets it how you need it to.

Combining that with PATH which is recently available on custom objects, its a great combination. Path allows the admin to create visual progression with helper steps along the way. SO think of making toast…step 1, get bread (but the bag has to be open), step 2 put in toaster (but the toaster must be plugged in), etc etc. In our use case, the record we were tracking all had a process before they were able to be deemed “Audit Completed”, and Path helped us set that visually with some text to assist the user (sample image from google)

Last, but certainly NOT least…Kanban view. Simply put, Kanban view is a display option in your custom list views that allows you to view your records as “cards”. So to speak. Kanban view allows you to group an summarize by specific fields to see where they are in the “process”.


In my Lightning App use case, here are the tools I used:

  • Lightning app page
  • Lightning record page
  • Highlight panel lightning component on the lightning record page
  • Report chart lightning component
  • News lightning component on a lightning app page (industry relevant)
  • PATH on the custom object
  • Lightning action to set 3 fields on a record to “complete” an “audit”
  • Kanban view on a custom list view
  • Too many rollup summaries (hit object cap of 40)

In conclusion, Lightning is very powerful and while it may still be missing a very small handful of capabilities that classic has, they are definitely coming and coming fast. I wanted to take the opportunity to start the process to roll my company into lightning, and this was a great opportunity to roll a new user into a new app in the new and improved UI to measure feedback.

When announcing to friends I was doing this in Lightning, those who haven’t worked in Lightning all asked the same question: “How is it building in lightning vs classic?”

My answer was pretty simple. Classic is like walking through your house in the dark, you know where all the turns, walls, and furniture are and can navigate where you need to without error. However, when someone moves that couch a few inches (objects into “object manager”, etc), you wind up with a bloody toe. So eventually, you will learn to navigate around what seems familiar, it just takes time and some muscle memory.

giphy-downsized (1)

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