Like AccountName vs Account.Name. The first being a formula field, and the second one a relationship.

Since formula fields are like Schrödinger's Cat (the value depends on the time you are getting its value), I suppose there is a query on the background. My doubt is whether it is faster than a direct relationship query.


If the formula is literally:


Then you get the use of indexes, such that:

WHERE AccountName__c = 'Demo'
WHERE Account.Name = 'Demo'

Are identical in performance.

Formula Using Index

If you use any sort of formula function, it reverts to a TableScan, resulting in a massive performance drop:

BLANKVALUE(Account.Name, '--None--')

Formula Not Using Index

In the first formula, your users will not likely experience timeouts from queries being too complicated (e.g. non-selective query errors), but in the latter, your users may experience performance problems (longer query execution time and/or non-selective query errors).

  • Is it good practice to use formulas instead of querying relationship field. Lets say in Trigger, if I want to refer parentAccount's name on the Account I am working on, if I just use formula i will save SOQL.. as I have an unlimited license so having 800 fields and creating formula fields helps me save a bunch of queries. If formulas are simple it wont have any performance implications? May 14 '18 at 13:54
  • 4
    @PranayJaiswal There's a trade off to using formulas this way, and it's nothing to do with performance. When you create formulas just to pull in data from a related record, it makes code maintenance more challenging. I would recommend doing this only as a last resort (e.g. you're already at the governor limit) and document it clearly. There's nothing more frustrating than having to look in Setup while reading code.
    – sfdcfox
    May 14 '18 at 14:00

It's a bit difficult to provide a blanket answer, but there are some techniques you can use to write more efficient queries. There is a good Trailhead module detailing such practices.

Additionally, Salesforce provides a great tool via their dev tool called Query Plan which allows you to compare the actual "cost" of queries against each other.

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