Salesforce puts customers on the execution block with jargon assault

Photo: Josh Staiger via Flickr

Salesforce is a great program for small business. Each of its customer sites has an administrator, many of whom are non-coders. That’s why a recent “critical update” featuring “block execution” sounded scary — but incomprehensible — to many.

The salesforce email: simultaneously opaque and terrifying

A correspondent working in a small financial advice firm forwarded me this recent email from Salesforce. In what follows, I put jargon in bold, vague weasel words in italic, and passive voice in bold italic. The translation is all mine.

Subject: Final Reminder – Block Execution of JavaScript in the HYPERLINK Function To Be Enforced in the Winter ‘18 release

Translation: Remember that techie thing we told you you could do with JavaScript? It’s about to stop working.

As an admin of a Salesforce org who may be using hyperlink formula fields containing JavaScript, we are reminding you that this critical update will be enforced for all orgs in Winter ’18*

*Currently targeted for October 2017; date subject to change.

Translation: This is your last warning. We are all powerful. Not only are we are allowed to dangle modifiers, but we have the power to reschedule Winter for October.

Starting with the Spring ‘17 release, we began a three-phase effort to eliminate the use of JavaScript in hyperlink formula fields. In Summer ‘17, we continued this effort with the introduction of a Critical Update Console (CRUC) setting which allows admins to opt-in to blocking the execution of JavaScript in hyperlink formula fields by activating the CRUC.

Translation: We warned you twice before. We have activated . . . the CRUC. Now your JavaScript is doomed

The phased approach will conclude with the Winter ‘18 release when execution of JavaScript in hyperlink formula fields will be prevented. The critical update will be activated automatically for all orgs on October 30, 2017.

Translation: Winter is coming. And so is passive voice, which is just as scary.

Why is Salesforce making this change?

Trust is Salesforce’s #1 value and product security is a key aspect of Trust. Salesforce has identified the inclusion of JavaScript in hyperlink formula fields as a potential security vulnerability that can allow malicious code to be executed within an org. To protect you and your Salesforce environment, we are removing this vulnerability.

Translation: We defend ourselves with meaningless platitudes and a picture of a hammer and wrench and we capitalize “Trust.” With this level of placation, you know this must be a big deal. We’re so protective of your security that we’re publicly announcing to hackers that they have only about a month left to exploit this security hole.


What action do I need to take?

We recommend that you review the use of JavaScript in HYPERLINK functions in your Salesforce org and begin migration toward alternative solutions. For more information on how to locate formula fields impacted by the CRUC and possible alternatives to JavaScript in hyperlink formula fields, read the Hyperlink Formula Fields for JavaScript Disablement article.

Translation: Run! Specifically, run to the article that actually tells you what to do, which we’ve cleverly tucked right here at the bottom of the message.

How can I get more information?

See the Winter ’18 Release Notes for more information on this change. For more information on the CRUC, review the Respond to Critical Updates help topic.

For additional questions, open a case with Support via the Help & Training portal.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate you are an administrator of Salesforce CRM Org ID 00XX0000000n9ZZ

Translation: Read this other stuff to find out what’s really happening.

Don’t let geeks take over the keyboard

This is clearly an important message that might break a bunch of salesforce instances, but the technical way it is presented will bamboozle thousands of administrators and might never reach others. There’s an effective way to deal with a diverse set of readers, some technical and some not: use clear language and put the technical details in a link. Here’s how I would write this:

Subject: October 2017 Salesforce update will disable some JavaScript functions

Dear Salesforce administrator,

If you’re not the kind of admin who codes your own formula fields, you can ignore this message. (However, if you added code or an add-on from someone else, check with that company to see if this message applies to them.)

However, if you are technically adept and you or your developers have coded those fields, we recommend that you read this article about why we’re disabling JavaScript code in hyperlink formula fields, to close a security vulnerability:

Hyperlink Formula Fields for JavaScript Disablement

Everything you need to know is in there. If you have code like that, it’s going to stop working in the next major release.

If you have other questions, open a case with Support here.

Imagine — you could alert your technical users without alarming the civilians or threatening “block execution.” Cool!

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  1. Your version is better. However, you begin two sentences in a row with “however.” You could probably lose both and still be okay!

  2. That does not go near the Bulllshit Linkedin sent around just before they changed everything back in February.
    They were ‘retiring’ a few functionalities some of us had become used to.

  3. IMHO Salesforce is not a great, or even good, small business tool.

    From its origins as a “no software” alternative to enterprise-level sales management software, Salesforce has evolved into the kind of complex dedicated-administrator-required big-business-focused tool it used to preach against. And anyone who has tried to take over administering a Salesforce implementation that’s had multiple previous administrators knows what a snarled mess it can become. Custom fields, layouts, reports and adjustments accumulate, and can’t be untangled.

    But more to the point, Salesforce is designed for the benefit of sales management, not sales people. For the salesperson it is slow; so slow; infuriatingly slow. The more sales management insists that all sales activity get logged, the more annoying it gets. And to the point of this article, keeping up with updates, add-ons and options is time consuming, and often perplexing.

    There are several online alternatives now available, which I won’t list here but a simple search will reveal. They may not have the myriad features of Salesforce, nor the deep customizability, but many of them are designed from the ground up to help salespeople make sales, not sales admins write reports.