Geolocation for your appsYour users are on the go. They want to sign in from their smartphones when they’re on the road and see if they are close to a client’s headquarters, or plan a trip to visit several prospects who are in close proximity to one another. “I wish Salesforce.com was more mobile-aware,” they say.

Well, they asked for it, they got it. In our Winter ’13 release, Salesforce.com introduces custom geolocation fields. Custom geolocation fields let you specify a location by its latitude and longitude. Then, using these GPS coordinates, you can create formulas that calculate the distance between locations.

(Please note that this is a beta release of geolocation and its functionality is not necessarily finished or final.)

When you create a custom geolocation field, you give it the usual name and label, and then you indicate how you want the latitude and longitude notation to appear in the Salesforce interface (decimals or degrees, minutes, and seconds). You can add a custom geolocation field to a standard or custom object and then your users can enter the GPS coordinates on records for a person or place.

But the real power of geolocation fields is unleashed when you pair them with formulas: The new DISTANCE and GEOLOCATION formula functions, also in beta in Winter ’13, let you calculate distances between locations. For example, how many miles is it from your West Coast headquarters to your client’s distribution center? The answer is:

DISTANCE(acme_distribution__c, GEOLOCATION(37.775,-122.418), “mi”)

As mentioned, geolocation is in beta in Winter ’13. Therefore, it has several known limitations. For example, it doesn’t work with reports, dashboards, or validation rules, and geolocation fields can’t be searched. For a complete list of known limitations and more about how to use custom geolocation fields, see the Force.com Engineering blog post New Geolocation Summer ’12 Features and Mobile Apps and the Salesforce.com Help topic Geolocation Custom Field Overview–Beta. To provide feedback on geolocation functionality, visit IdeaExchange.

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  • http://twitter.com/kxa422 Jean-Noel Casassus

    There is problem with the Geolocalisation field type, inline editing don’t work with that kind of field.

  • http://www.billvolhein.com ogt92

    Let’s hope the release comes with some type of geo API func that allows the fields to be populated from an outside source. Would be horrible to have an agent try to manually find the long/lat themselves.

  • Anonymous

    How can I capture the lat/long (geo location) of the device when entering a new record in a custom object?

  • sweta

    Does DISTANCE
    formula returns point-to-point distance OR driving distance between 2
    locations? In case some cases I am finding the search is not so
    precise, as Google Distance API shows different distance between 2 locations (differs
    by few miles). Please suggest.