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Last friday, Salesforce released a new product which is Salesforce communities (Also called chatter communities?)which seems to be based on chatter and works on the principle of sharing and collaboration. It is touted to be replacing the customer and partner portals in the near future and Salesforce advocates that those who have set up customer or partner portals should consider making the switch.

Since there is no much information available out there just yet, I was curious to see if anybody else has had any experience with setting up a community or has considered setting one up.

The other confusion I have is that there seems to be another product called 'Company communities' which is geared towards internal employees of a company and would be used in the place of a 'corporate intranet'. I wanted to know if these is a separate product and when could we expect to get it.

Thank you.

  • 1
    I'm also interested in the differences between Salesforce Communities and Customer Portal. – Matt K Jun 18 '13 at 14:29
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    "There are two Communities licenses for external users: Customer Community and Partner Community. The Customer Community license is similar to a High Volume Customer Portal license and is well-suited for business-to-consumer communities with large numbers of external users. The Partner Community license is similar to a Gold Partner license and is well-suited for business-to-business communities, such as a partner community." login.salesforce.com/help/doc/en/… – techtrekker Jun 18 '13 at 17:41
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I have recently been piloting Salesforce Communities to understand the impact on our Portals, and also (as an ISV) on our products.

Functionally, we can think of Salesforce Communities as an upgrade to Customer Portal / Partner Portal. However, Salesforce Communities represents a change in the positioning of "portal" functionality. There's a considerable gulf in user experience (look, feel and functionality) between internal org users and portal users. With Communities Salesforce is closing this gulf, making the experience across internal and external users seamless. We're familiar with the "App" selection menu which in a sense provides different perspectives within an org. Communities uses similar thinking - internal users will be able to switch their org perspective from "internal community" to "partner community" or to "customer community" or indeed any other Community they may have, from a Communities drop-down menu which is ever present at the top of the page. Within each community / perspective the experience will be very similar, and significantly this includes Chatter functionality.

Themes / Branding

Default styling is far prettier than default portal. There are some coarse customisation options: several colour schemes, override of 5 key colours, header (JPG, GIF, PNG or HTML) and footer (HTML) docs.

If you want to use an icon for a community theme: - an image has to be loaded as a document - the document has to be set as an "Externally Available Image"

Identification and Authentication

Authentication options for external users: Username/Password & SAML. When GA it should also support Auth Providers.

You can have pages that are accessible without requiring login.

Customer Chatter Groups

There is no connection / commonality between Customer Chatter Groups and Salesforce (Chatter) Communities. Chatter customers from private groups with customers can’t be added to communities.

Salesforce Communities and Chatter Customer Groups are complementary. Chatter Customer Groups is designed for ad hoc collaboration with external users on files and projects on a small scale. Salesforce Chatter Communities is designed to create a highly engaging and customized experience for anywhere from just a few hundred members to millions of members.

Ideas

Ideas with Communities are not supported in the pilot, but should available in the Summer 13 release.

Chatter Groups

Posts to Chatter Groups are accessible only within the Community in which the Group was created. This principle includes the "Internal Community".

Once Communities are enabled, an Internal Community is established which contains all the org’s existing groups.

It is not possible to create a Chatter Group which is accessible from multiple communities - e.g. by the internal community and the customer community.

The only way to post to a Chatter Group is to first switch into that community.

Customers can create their own Chatter Groups within their community.

Chatter On Records

It is possible to Chatter on records in Communities. You can configure which objects are accessible to which communities, and in addition you can employ sharing techniques for controlling access to specific records for an object.

However, it is important to note that if a user has access to a record, and Chatter is enabled for the object type, then that user also has access to the chatter feed for that record. Records and accompanying Chatter posts span communities.

Visualforce, HTML an CSS

I have seen no problems so far with Visualforce transitioned from Portal to Communities, though there appear to be some issues with custom HTML/CSS which will need to be investigated further.

Documentation

  • Stephen thanks for providing these details. By any chance have you had a chance to configure communities. I am specifically looking for any information around customizing the pages using HTML and CSS. I have experience overriding a customer portal with custom VF pages and a force.com site. I am hoping we dont need to do all of that again but I cannot see how I can modify the main chatter page for example if I need to add some sections and stuff. Seems like its page layout cannot be edited. – Richard N Jun 21 '13 at 15:02
  • No, we have not yet transitioned our Portals to Communities. I have been piloting SF Communities to understand the impact on our Portals, and also (as an ISV) on our products. Our VF pages seemed to transition fine, but one HTML/CSS workaround did not fare so well. With regard to the Chatter tab, I think that if you want to customise it you will likely need to implement your own VF tab. – Stephen Willcock Jun 21 '13 at 15:43
  • Thanks Stephen. That is the route am following. For now I think we will be better off with custom VF pages and a force.com site. We can probably integrate this later with a Community in the near future. – Richard N Jul 8 '13 at 15:39
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http://help.salesforce.com/help/doc/en/salesforce_communities_implementation.pdf

The above link points to a document which you can use as reference and try implementing the communities feature

http://help.salesforce.com/help/doc/en/salesforce_portal_to_community_migration_cheatsheet.pdf

The above document gives you an idea of why migrating to community from portal.

Basically communities provide collaboration(Chatter) along with portal,sites and feature to brand using site.com.

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Looks like I'm a bit late to the party here, but thought you might find this Ebook about Communities helpful:

Best Practices Implementing Salesforce Communities

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CSS styling can be included on a community portal by including it in an HTML header file. Click "Manage Communities" :: "Edit" :: "Branding" -> then select and assign an HTML file from your documents folders.

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