The future annotation is a great feature on the Salesforce Platform to allow you to execute custom logic asynchronously. I often use them to perform callouts within the context of a database trigger.  However, one of the restrictions of future annotations is that you can not pass sObjects or objects as arguments to the annotated method. I regularly use encapsulation to pass a collection of parameters, or even an sObject, but this won’t work in @future method:

@future
static void doFutureCall(List<AddressHelper> addresses) {
  //do something
}

But thankfully there is a way you can do. The secret sauce is the JSON serialize|deserialize methods.

Take the example of an AddressHelper object referred to above. This is encapsulated convenience object to help me pass around address details. (note:For simplicity, this helper object just includes strings, but it could easily include other types including objects, sobjects, collections etc.)

/**
 * Sample encapsulated class
 * $author: qwall@salesforce.com
 */
public with sharing class AddressHelper {

	public String street {set; get;}
	public String city {set; get;}
	public String state {set; get;}
	public String zip {set; get;}

    public AddressHelper(String s, String c, String st, String z) {
    	street = s;
    	city = c;
    	state = st;
    	zip = z;
    }
}

Using the JSON serialize method I can easily pass this to an @future method.

public with sharing class AddressFuture {
    public AddressFuture () {

	List<String> addresses = new List<String>();
	AddressHelper ah1 = new AddressHelper('1 here st', 'San Francisco', 'CA', '94105');
	AddressHelper ah2 = new AddressHelper('2 here st', 'San Francisco', 'CA', '94105');
	AddressHelper ah3 = new AddressHelper('3 here st', 'San Francisco', 'CA', '94105');

	//serialize my objects
	addresses.add(JSON.serialize(ah3));
	addresses.add(JSON.serialize(ah2));
	addresses.add(JSON.serialize(ah3));

	doFutureCall(addresses);

  }

And then, within my future method, all I need to do is deserialize the object, and you are good to go.

  @future
    static void doFutureCall(List<String> addressesSer) {

    	AddressHelper currAddress = null;

       for (String ser : addressesSer)
       {

       	 currAddress = (AddressHelper) JSON.deserialize(ser, AddressHelper.class);
       	 System.debug('Deserialized in future:'+currAddress.street);
       }
    }

That’s it. JSON.serialize|deserialize makes it amazingly simple to pass objects, even ones with complex nested relationships, to @future annotated methods. There are time though that a particular object can not be serialized due to the underlying inheritance structure. One such example is the Pattern class in Apex.

To handle these outliers, I often create my own custom getSerializable() method on my custom object.

That’s about it. You can grab the complete code for the examples above as a gist here.

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