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I'm looking for a way to represent something like a seminar where they are many attendees that are clients. Some of these clients will be represented by Contact records and some Lead records.

I'd like to use Event and EventRelation but there are some odd restrictions that I don't see a work around for--

In Lightning, EventRelation records are shown on Event (in the Name related list) only when isParent is true and either one Lead and no Contacts or any number of Contacts but no Leads can have that field set. With a mixed group, that means the Name related list on Event can really only be used to show Contacts.

Now looking on related listed the Events on Contacts. That works in both Classic and Lightning I can get the Open Activities related list and Activity Related history and the Events show up.

But for Lead, I can't get the Events listed (as I have to set isParent to false and they only show in the Activities related lists if isParent is true).

So considering the following use cases--

  1. For a seminar with both Leads and Contact attending -- List all Leads and Contacts.
  2. For a Contact -- list all the seminars they attend.
  3. For a Lead -- list all the seminars they attend.

Case 1 works in Classic but not Lightning. Case 2 works in Classic and Lightning. Case 3 does not work in Classic or Lightning.

Anyone have suggestions for the best way to data model?

The one thing I've thought of is use native Event but add a custom related object. Then put that related list on all three objects.

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I believe there already exists a data model in Standard SF for it, Its called as Campaign Management.

Here You can say your Event is a Campaign.

All attendees for your events are campaign members. Campaign member is a junction object between A campaign and a lead or a contact or even person account.

Your use case:

For a seminar with both Leads and Contact attending -- Query all campaign Member

For a Contact -- list all the seminars they attend. On Contact, you see campaign related list, which shows all events they attended

For a Lead -- list all the seminars they attend. On Lead you see campaign related list, which shows all events they attended

https://trailhead.salesforce.com/content/learn/modules/campaign_basics/campaigns_basics_unit_3

Src: https://trailhead.salesforce.com/en/content/learn/modules/campaign_basics

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Almost everything about Events is weird. It's an old object that has accreted layers of eccentric behavior.

When Shared Activities is turned on, you can relate the Event to exactly one Lead or up to 50 Contacts. See for example on EventRelation:

An event can be related to up to 50 contacts or one lead.

(Emphasis mine).

If you're finding you can relate a Lead and Contacts to the same Event, that behavior seems to be unsupported and/or an edge case that may cause issues. See for example Shared Activities Considerations:

You can't relate a task or event to additional contacts if it's already related to a lead.

The IsParent field has multiple meanings:

When false, indicates that the relation is an invitee (a contact, lead, or user). When true, indicates that the relation is a Who or What, as determined by IsWhat field.

This stems from the sort of dual nature of an Event, which can be just a representation of an event or can represent a calendar entity to which persons are sent invitations (if, in Lightning, you're using the sync product; otherwise it's not supported in Lightning). My sense is that IsParent should be true unless you are using Sync.

Overall, I think you're simply running up against the built-in limitations of the Event object, and it's probably the wrong tool for this job.

I agree with Pranay in saying there is one clear alternative to building a custom relationship object: Campaigns. Campaign Members can already be Leads or Contacts; they can track response status; and you can add custom fields to both the Campaign Member and Campaign to track whatever other metadata you need.

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