Wed, 22 July 2020
This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we sit down with Chris Marzilli, Director of Platform Success at Salesforce. We learn tons of tips and tricks Chris has for improving your org’s performance and how the Awesome Admins out there can make a difference.
Join us as we talk about how impactful smart tab usage can be, the tools that are built into Salesforce to help you check the performance of your org, and you should always take a look at standard components first.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Chris Marzilli.
The best of the best and the worst of the worst.
Chris describes himself as “an Admin who Architects” at Salesforce, where he and his team work with some of Salesforce’s largest customers implementing and evaluating hundreds of orgs. “I’ve seen the best of the best, and the worst of the worst,” he says, “so I have no shortage of war stories.” That means he has plenty of insights to help you improve your org.
“I’ve spent the last past of this year focused on just improving and optimizing Lightning performance with some of our customers,” Chris says. He thinks of Lightning performance as a three-sided triangle: browser performance, network performance, and page complexity. The third one is where admins need to focus. As Chris puts it, “how can we make the user more efficient and how can we get the page load faster?”
Rethinking tabs from the ground up.
“In Classic, as an admin, you had very limited choices,” Chris says, but in Lightning there are so many more options than just placing the field on the left or the right of the page. Hiding things behind tabs, for example, can allow them to lazy load and substantially increase performance. Admins now have to play the role of UI designer, and there’s a lot they can do in Lightning that can have a huge impact on their users’ workflow.
One of the biggest things is to start from scratch in Lightning. “Most of the customers I’ve run into that have some of the worst-performing orgs have basically just lifted and shifted from Classic,” Chris says, “and they’ve brought over a lot of their technical debt without rethinking it.” Instead, Chris recommends starting by asking yourself what you really need to give the user in order to do their job. “Don’t give them too much,” he says, “if you have 300 fields, no user, no human, no person can comprehend that when looking at a page.” The same goes for related lists—Chris strives for one or two on a page, with the rest hidden behind tabs.
“User needs are demanding,” Chris says, but it’s important to realize that all clicks are not the same. “The question is not so much what they want to see, it’s what they want to have at their fingertips,” he says, and he has a ton of great tips for how to make better use of your tabs to group things logically while making it all more manageable for all of your different use cases.
Salesforce tools to help you gauge your org’s performance.
The world of components is wide and varied—there are so many that even Chris has trouble keeping up. Before you get into custom components, Chris recommends making sure you’ve taken a thorough look at the standard components, and even considered if what you’re trying to do would be better accomplished with a Flow. “I always try to use my declarative tools first before I go into writing a custom component,” he says. It’ll perform faster and save you a lot of time.
Another great tool is the Lightning Performance App, which started out as an adoption measuring stick but now includes several great metrics for judging how your org is functioning. Some of that data is actually stored in your org as a record, Lightning Usage by Browser Metrics, which gives you the ability to take a closer look by building custom report types and reports on that object.
“The reason I wanted to come on the Salesforce Admin Podcast is to make a callout to all of our Awesome Admins out there,” Chris says, “you can have a huge effect on Lightning performance if you just take a look at the page, inventory it, and then understand what’s the best way to present it to the user.”
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admin Podcast, where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become an awesome admin. I'm Mike Gerholdt.
Gillian Bruce: And I'm Gillian Bruce.
Mike Gerholdt: And joining us today is Christopher Marzilli, who, holy cow, is about to just blow your mind with all of the cool things that admins can do, that he helped coach admins, that he works with our companies while at Salesforce to increase Lightning performance on pages. We talk components. And I'll sneak peek. I think, my new word for this episode is lazy load.
Gillian Bruce: That's pretty good, Mike.
Mike Gerholdt: It's lazy load's fun.
Gillian Bruce: It's like lazy river. It's what we all want to be on right now.
Mike Gerholdt: It's lazy load. So listen for lazy load and other fun things as we get Chris on the podcast.
Christopher Mar...: Thanks, Mike. I'm really excited to be here first time. Long time listener of the podcast. I really enjoyed one of the recent podcasts with Vin Dynamic and talking about the Dynamic page builder.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Vin has quite the game collection.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: And Chris, we'll work on your superhero name through this podcast, too. So my brain is already thinking.
Christopher Mar...: Awesome.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. It just comes as the podcast progresses. Chris, you've been at Salesforce for a while. We've had the pleasure of working together on admin track. For those of you that don't know you, what do you do at Salesforce? And what are some of the things that you're really passionate about?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. So I got my start using Salesforce about 15 years ago. For the last five years, I've been here at Salesforce. But when I started 15 years ago, I was an accidental admin and that's where my roots will always be. I'm sure you've heard the phrase admins who code. Well, I'm actually an admin who architects now here at Salesforce. I run a group of certified application architects that work with our largest customers here at Salesforce. And I've implemented and evaluated hundreds of orgs, and I've seen the best of the best and certainly the worst of the worst. So I have no shortage of worst worries.
Gillian Bruce: I love that, admin to architect at Salesforce. That's quite a 15-year trajectory there, Chris. So congrats.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: So you said you've seen the best of the best and the worst of the worst, which means you've learned a lot along the way. One of the things I think we wanted to talk to you today was about some of those things that you've learned that admins can use to help them improve kind of the performance of their org, which I think you've got a long list.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot of stuff out there. I actually spent the last part of this year, it being July now, focused on just improving and optimizing Lightning performance with some of our customers. I've kind of come up with some... a methodology of the way I think about Lightning performance. It's actually a three-sided triangle. And those three sides are browser performance, network performance and page complexity. And really the complexity of a page is where we, as admins, need to focus and think about how can we make the user more efficient and how can we get the page to load... The page load faster is a nice kind of KPI to look at, but really you want to make the user more efficient and those two things need to come together to provide the most optimal Lightning experience.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah, I think, I mean, for as much as we like to put bumpers on stuff, there's no stopping people from adding too much cheese to a taco. Right? And there's also no stop... Well, I'm sure there's a limit and you can tell me how many Lightning components I can have on a page, but at a certain point, your X number of Lightning component, isn't adding value, just like your X number of pound of cheese on a taco isn't adding really any more deliciousness.
Christopher Mar...: Now, I really like cheese on my tacos, but yeah, there's definitely an upper limit there. And while I'll say that we actually... There's what you can do technically, but then what's the best practice? And I like to focus on more on the best practices. And we've recently released something new in app builder. I don't know if you've seen it. As admins, we're an app builder all the time. We'll see guidance now in the lower right hand corner. And when they trip one of our rules, like if they have more than, I think it's 20 or 25 Lightning components on a page, it'll pop up and say, "Hey, this might be too many. Let's think about how to rearrange that." And we're going to be adding more and more features there, but with Lightning App Builder and that guidance, there's so much you can do.
Gillian Bruce: So I think that's awesome. I mean, it's really interesting because we get so excited about all the flexibility we get now with, I mean, talking to Vin Dynamic, and the amazing things that his team has created, we have so many options as admins of you can put things here. You can set conditional visibility here. You can now kind of even to like a field level. I mean, there are so many things that as admins, we never had to think about that before. Like you said, it's either left or right. And now admins are kind of UI designers in a way.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. So the key things to look at when creating your page, first of all, start from scratch. Most of the customers that I've run into that had some of the worst performing orgs have basically just lifted and shifted from Lightning... I'm sorry... from Classic to Lightning, right? And they've kind of brought over a lot of their technical debt without really rethinking it.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Christopher Mar...: I say 20 is what you should shoot for, maybe 30, right, on a field. And then hide everything else behind a tab. I understand that those other 150 fields are important, but not every time I go to the page. With dynamic forums, I can't wait. You'll be able to drag and drop fields on, but even now, you can use a related object and just put a couple fields on the page and then put the rest behind the tabs.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So let me play devil's advocate, Chris.
Christopher Mar...: Sure.
Mike Gerholdt: Because if I'm an admin, I'm hearing this and I'm like, "Oh, I totally need to do that." And then the second you sit down with a user, they will give you the story of, "Well, when I load this record, sometimes I need to see this. And then other times on Tuesday afternoons, at 3:00, I need to see this. And then other times, I'm feeling like I'm on the phone with them and I need to... So I got to have access to all 35 related lists."
Christopher Mar...: Right. And the user needs are demanding. Right? I always say that you got to get to the core of what they need. And again, they'll need all 35 related list at some point in their career, right, at some point in their week or some point in their month or if they go to it once a year to look at this specific metric. That is important too, right? You need to be able to support that use case.
Mike Gerholdt: So in thinking of a page, how... because I know Gillian has a million questions, how should I approach tabs? Let's start there first.
Christopher Mar...: My thought around that is that you can basically drag and drop tabs anywhere you're not want now in the app builder. It's really powerful. You don't want to go crazy though, right? You don't want to have everything be tabbed. So I like to have one set of tabs. The default tab is the, again, those key things, maybe those 20 fields, those two related list is in the default tab. And then everything else, I have behind that.
Gillian Bruce: I like this. This is like tab palooza. There's so many. Wasn't Tab like a soft drink at some point, too? Or is that still a thing?
Mike Gerholdt: It was.
Christopher Mar...: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: Still exists. Still exists.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. I am like, I'm envisioning it. I don't think I've ever actually had it. So I can't tell you what it tastes like.
Mike Gerholdt: I feel like it was in the '80s thing.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Because don't they talk about that in a big movie that came out in 1985 about time travel?
Gillian Bruce: Sure. Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Put it on my tab.
Gillian Bruce: I was a little young, I think.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I know. I'm old or something, fine. Give me a Pepsi without sugar.
Gillian Bruce: All right. So I love this tab strategy. And now everyone's thinking of drinking a Tab soft drink. But one of the other things, when you say tabs, it makes me think of console. So can you talk to us a little bit about console versus tabs in the kind of standard out of the box experience? I mean, I love console. I think it's amazing. And that is like the ultimate Tabba Palooza. Right?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. So there's definitely a big difference between the tabs that you have in app builder and the tabs that exist in the console Lightning application. Even though they probably look relatively the same, they function a little bit different. What's important to know about the console tabs is that unlike the app builder tabs, they don't do what we call lazy load with the app builder and you put a tab on, it loads the default tab when the end user hits the page. And then when they click into the next tab, that's when it actually does the loading there. So you get a speed advantage, a performance advantage there.
Gillian Bruce: I see. That's, again, a tip I had no idea about. So this is good.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I love your point that you make in your presentation about console users are generally power users. I feel like it even took me a while before I was what I would consider myself a power user to have a console and be able to navigate around. Right?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. I mean the console users are not people who are working on one thing at a time, right? They are working on multiple cases, multiple opportunities, multiple leads, and they are flipping back and forth and they are definitely the quintessential power users, and they need a little bit more thought put around their performance because every second you can reduce the page load time is more time that they're going to be able to juggle multiple things.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. So let's jump into... Because I feel we did justice to some tabs. I bet there was a Diet Tab, too, Tab Free. What about Lightning components? It's interesting, coming from the world of Classic, you kind of had the record detail, and then all of your related lists and you had this one page and as you mentioned, there's really, do you put it in left? Do you put it in the right? And then once it's in the left or the right, "Ooh, do you put a blank space in between it?"
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. Right. Yeah. Oh, fancy.
Mike Gerholdt: Those fields. I remember when the blank space came out. It was like, "Oh my God, this is a game changer." Now we have on top of the page apps, we have components that we can put in pains. And for the most part, we have standard components we can drag and drop in, and we also have custom components. So if we have developers that are building components, how should we go about thinking about components?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah, it's a great question because that's one of the powers that we have in Lightning that it's so much more powerful than classic, it's those standard and custom components. In the standard components, we keep adding more and more every release. It's even hard for me here at Salesforce to keep up with all of these components that we have, the highlights panel. I really like the accordion, just because it's fun to say accordion.
Mike Gerholdt: Right.
Christopher Mar...: And there are so many great different components. And then there's third party components. There's a huge number of app exchange, third party Lightning components out there that you can go and get free and paid. So there's just no end to it. And then there's of course the custom built components that you work with your developers to build.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I mean, Chris, to your point, I remember early days of when we were kind of spreading the Lightning news and going and doing like Lightning tours in cities. I remember, there was a moment where actually one of our like broader team members was super stoked about a Lightning component he'd built. And then we were like, "That's actually a standard component."
Mike Gerholdt: Right. Yeah.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: You did all this work, and actually it already exists.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. I've definitely run into that certainly with customers and then I show them not only does it exist, but it actually performs faster. Right? One of the things I wanted to get too techie here on the admin call, but when developers are building components, they actually have the option to use something called base components, which are basically the underpinnings of our core components. Right? So that it's very similar to the ones that you see in app builder, but then they can extend them. Developers can extend them.
Gillian Bruce: I think that's really cool too, because I mean, we've briefly touched on kind of the more complexities that come with Lightning components and building them once in a while on this podcast. And I think the idea of base components is something that admins can very easily understand, right, because it's very similar to the admin experience in that, "Hey, here is a..." I mean, it's almost like a template that you can use.
Christopher Mar...: Right.
Gillian Bruce: And reminding developers that they exist, I think, is a really good thing for admins to do.
Christopher Mar...: Absolutely. And Gillian, not only can they... They can actually see them, right? So you can go and I would encourage even admins to go to the Lightning component developer docs. And in the documentation, there's a tab for base components and you can go and look at them and see them, and then you can get the code and you can even send that link to one of your developer and say like, "This is the component that I think we want to..." This basically, it's a UI. Ultimately it's a base UI. You go, "This is what I want. This is the component that you should put it in. And here's the data that we need to pull in or the functionality that we need." So the admins can actually go and see them, see all of our base components.
Gillian Bruce: So awesome. I love that. I love that. So Chris, what are some kind of other things that you've got tip wise for admins who are building pages in Lightning who want to optimize performance? We talked about tabs. We briefly touched on console, talking about components. What are some other top things that come up to mind for you that you've seen?
Christopher Mar...: Well, one of the things that I work the most with is doing investigations with customers. How do we troubleshoot Lightning performance? Because you're obviously not starting from a blank screen. Almost nobody's in that position, unless you've just spun up a new org today. Right? So how do we go about if our users are saying it's slow, what are the next steps you should take to then kind of troubleshoot that and figure that out? And I spend a lot of time working with customers. So I'd like to kind of talk a little bit about some of the ways I go and do that.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That'd be great.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. Let's jump into that.
Christopher Mar...: The first thing I always tell people is go look at your Lightning Usage app, right? That app came about because we wanted to see how people, how users are adopting Lightning. But now, there's two additional sections in that for pages and browser, and you can get performance. You can see how each browser type is performing, whether you're using Chrome or Safari or whatever browser types you might have. And then you can also see it by page. And I think we showed you right now the top worst performing pages. And we grade them based upon what I talked about earlier, that experience page time, or EPT.
Gillian Bruce: Ooh, that's so cool. I didn't even know that. That's great.
Mike Gerholdt: All of that is new. And going through your presentation, I actually saw where you could append the URL to have the EPT show up on the page.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. And this is a great way to kind of test, from any computer, anywhere in the world, what the EPT is on a page. And you can actually append what we call a URL parameter to the end of the URL. It's just EPT visible equals one. And you'll be able to see how long that page load.
Gillian Bruce: So, Chris, this is a lot of great data that now admins are understanding how to access and how to analyze kind of their org. Once we kind of gather this data, I'm wondering when you're working with people and their orgs, how do you kind of interpret this and use all this data to start making a plan? Like, how do you prioritize your like, "Okay, so this page is slow. We're going to try doing tabs first or..." How do you kind of take all of this into action?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. And that's the key part, right? So the information is great and the Lightning Usage App can tell you where you might have some problems. Your users are obviously going to speak up and say, "It's slow here." The question is, what do you do next? What I've done is you kind of start have to take basically an inventory of the page and understand what you have on the page, what's on the details, how many related lists. Do you have visual force on the page? Are you using third party components? Are you using a managed app exchange component that was built for Classic and hasn't been moved to Lightning?
Gillian Bruce: I love that story. Yay. Awesome admin power.
Mike Gerholdt: Chris, that's a really good point. And thinking through always being in the conversation, right? So for some of the teams that you work with, do you find that often, some of that standard functionality was rebuilt or they're just not including everyone in the conversation when they're looking at their performance?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. I mean, certainly in this case, they didn't include the admin in the conversation when they were looking at performance because they felt they were so customized that it wasn't important, which is the exact opposite. Because they were so customized, they needed to have the admin in the room. You know, I also feel like the Visualforce has been around for so long. And I do really love Visualforce. I built a lot of stuff in Visualforce, but a lot of the stuff that we built for standard components came from us seeing people building the same Visualforce page over and over and over again. Right?
Mike Gerholdt: Well, and a lot of the features that we have coming out are quicker than what the previous, the one it replaces, right?
Christopher Mar...: Absolutely.
Mike Gerholdt: The analogy I think of is email's way faster than sending a letter in the mail. Right? It's got mail in the title, but it's way faster. One thing that you touch on that I do want to help admins with... And I'll admit that I'm not the most inept at troubleshooting. We talked a lot about page performance and I feel that admins have that ability to really make that effect, and you've seen that. When troubleshooting, you have a whole slide and a whole kind of section that you talk about browser performance.
Christopher Mar...: Yes.
Mike Gerholdt: Often, when an admin's out walking around, a user will kind of pull him over to be like, "Hey, this is slow. Is there something you can help?" I'd love to know, like, what are some of those things that we can do to kind of jump in and just check and kind of make sure that things are running optimal in that user's computer?
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. Browser performance is key for Lightning. One of the big differences between Classic and Lightning is Classic is rendered all on our side, what we call the server side. It's almost rendered entirely by Salesforce then sent as a old school HTML file all at once in a big, huge, basically text blob. With Lightning, it's a little bit different. We're still doing stuff on the server side, right, because you're still connected to Salesforce. You're still probably running your apex or whatever on the server side. But on the client side is where all the rendering really happens and all the processor happens.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. I can tell you, and I'm sure our admins out there have some stories of users. I had a user on old Internet Explorer. This was right around the time when Salesforce was definitely upgrading some stuff. I said, "You've got to just download Firefox. It's also supported by our IT." Truth be told, some users are shackled by IT only supports certain browsers, and only certain browsers can be downloaded. And thankfully, our IT department support IE and Firefox. And I said, "Just download Firefox and it'll be quicker," and I went back to their desk. And they said, "I downloaded Firefox. It's not any faster." And I look at their page and their page is still open in IE.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah.
Mike Gerholdt: Well, the point of downloading Firefox is that I use Salesforce in Firefox. But to that point, that was one of my most tenured users. And they did have some of the oldest equipment.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. What I see actually, what typically happens to customers that have some of the worst performance is that it's a combination, right, of poor browser performance, poor hardware, and just massively over-customized pages. And when those two things come together, that's when you see some of the worst performing Lightning pages.
Mike Gerholdt: Yep. Well, great, Chris. I am glad we had you on the podcast. We obviously, a lot to talk about. We can always dive into learning more about how we can set up Lightning pages and troubleshooting browser performance. And we didn't even touch on network performance. But I appreciate you getting on and helping our admins make the users as productive as possible.
Christopher Mar...: Yeah. I just wanted to make one last shout out to Trailhead. There's a great trail called Lightning Experience Performance Optimization. That's going to go into the details of everything I've talked about here. It'll talk to you about EPT and the Lightning Usage App and how to get your octane score and all that sort of stuff. It even talks, we didn't even get into it, but it talks a lot about optimizer. I know you had Niket on a few podcasts ago. And that trail is an awesome trail. Again, the Lightning Experience Performance Optimization trail, go check it out.
Mike Gerholdt: Yeah. And I'll be sure to link to it in the show notes. Thanks so much, Chris.
Christopher Mar...: Thanks so much, Michael.
Gillian Bruce: All right. So for three things that I got from our conversation with Chris, I mean, I got a lot, but my top three are admins, think about using tabs. That is so easy to create tabs on your Lightning pages and use them to make your pages more useful for your users and customize. Chris talked about a whole bunch of different ways you can do that. And maybe you want to drink a Tab while you're playing with tabs.
Mike Gerholdt: @MikeGerholdt.
Gillian Bruce: Thank you so much for joining us today and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.