Alert! Salesforce Event Notification Designs for Force.com Apps

Organizations that have typical business applications often need to notify their users about important data changes so that those users can take action. Read this post to learn about event notification, the different Salesforce and Force.com features that you can use to implement it, and how you can actually use those features to meet your event notification needs.

Event notification is an important part of most business applications. When something important happens, you sometimes need one or more users to take a specific action. Event notification lets you deliver your call to action automatically–at the appropriate time, and to the appropriate person or people. This post provides you with an overview to Salesforce and Force.com event notification options and links to a new article, Alert! Salesforce Event Notification Designs for Force.com Apps, that helps you learn more about these options.

Gathering Requirements for Force.com Event Notification

The requirements for different event notification use cases can vary in many ways and according to many factors, so you should carefully consider your event notification requirements during the design phase of your application.

Importance

Critical events typically can’t go unnoticed, and your users might need multiple types of notification–for example a Web page update or alert, an email, and a text message–to learn about them. If you have less important events, you might want to report them to users once each day in an email digest.

Frequency

Some events happen frequently, and you might need to aggregate them to cut down on noise, while other events happen rarely and require immediate notification.

Accountability

Important events might require notification accountability (e.g., who was notified when), while less important event notifications might be able to go untracked.

Considering Your Options for Force.com Event Notification

No matter what your requirements are, Force.com has many different features that make it easy to handle event notification, many of which require no programming. A new article, Alert! Salesforce Event Notification Designs for Force.com Apps, teaches you about event notification, contrasts the different Salesforce features you can use to implement it, and then actually shows you how to use those Salesforce features to suit your event notification use case.

Learning About Force.com Event Notification, Hands-On

The article’s hands-on tutorials and code samples teach you how to implement an event notification scenario using four different approaches.

  • A Visualforce page that polls Salesforce and refreshes at a regular interval.
  • A Visualforce page with JavaScript/jQuery that leverages efficient long polling via the Force.com Streaming API to drive partial page refreshes without the need for database queries. The implementation uses a unique architecture design to work around some limitations of the Streaming API.
  • A workflow rule that automatically sends an email when an event happens.
  • A scheduled report that automatically runs and emails to users.

You’ll learn the pros and cons of each approach and how each approach matches up with particular requirements for a project.

Applying the Correct Force.com Event Notification Approach

Whether you are new to the Force.com platform or a crusty old veteran, it’s important to keep current with new platform features as they appear. The options for event notification are a great example of why this principle is so important–some event notification approaches that this article covers are relatively new, such as long polling via the Streaming API.

But don’t stop after reading the article–take what you learn and apply your knowledge to your new and existing application designs. Our group often works with customers to help them solve problems around inefficient implementations that have surfaced over time. Here’s a common scenario we often see with customers.

  • You have older Visualforce pages built using antiquated and inefficient polling techniques such as the <apex:actionPoller> tag or JavaScript polling.
  • Once very small, the underlying object queried by the page’s polling approach has grown very large, so much so that the page refresh time has eclipsed the polling interval.
  • Consequently, your users aren’t getting the updates they need to drive their workflows.

Just like the article does, our team encourages you to step back, revisit your application requirements, and consider alternative, more efficient, perhaps newer event notification approaches that might better meet your application requirements. For example, if you are in the situation above, you might consider a redesigned solution that uses the Streaming API or workflow rules. The article is a headstart for helping you be successful with Force.com new event notification implementations and redesigns.

Related Resources

About the Author

Steve Bobrowski is an Architect Evangelist within the Technical Enablement team of the salesforce.com Customer-Centric Engineering group. The team’s mission is to help customers understand how to implement technically sound Salesforce solutions. Check out all of the resources that this team maintains on the Architect Core Resources page of Developer Force.

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Alert! Salesforce Event Notification Designs for Force.com Apps