Background: We have a custom Opportunity Object with a related Content List (documents like Solution Plans pertaining to an opportunity is uploaded into the Content via the related list). Few of the documents uploaded should go through a review before it is finalized.

We are trying to develop an Approval Process with the below characteristics:

[1] Choose an Approver - Salesforce User and/or non Salesforce User [2] Choose a document from the Content and send it as an Attachment via the Email (alternatively the document link will also work) [3] Capture the comments via Email (Email response)

After investigating we found the following limitations:

[1] Non Salesforce Approvers cannot be chosen [2] Approvals cannot have attachments [3] Email response is only available for Salesforce Users (need to have "API Access" in profile)


To develop Apex controller(s) to handle attachments via Email to salesforce & non Salesforce users;

Is there a way to achieve the below:

[1] Capture Review Comments (from both Salesforce & Non Salesforce Users) as we are not using the OOB Approval Flow. [2] Send document link uploaded in Content rather as an Attachment.

  • How would a non Salesforce User every approve something? It is all related to the User object. Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 15:08
  • I agree OOB it is not possible; however I am looking at customization via Triggers (for the Approval) and Email-Service for handling the response... Any insights in these lines will help!...
    – KaLi
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 1:28

3 Answers 3


Thanks for this lovely question. I was thinking about this.

There is one approach that I was thinking. Flow -

  • Create a force.com site for approval related stuff Reference - Sites
  • Create custom field on object record of which you want to be approved. CF to store approver email etc (as user is not from SF)
  • Create custom button for detail page to send for approval.

NOw for your reqquirements,

  1. Choose an Approver - Salesforce User and/or non Salesforce User

Use the custom email field to specify email of the SF user or non SF user to which the record will go for approval. Once user clicks on Submit for Approval custom detail page button, send an email with standard details.

  1. Capture the comments via Email (Email response)

On click of button , need to open a custom VF page which can list down all related attachments for the record (very easy to do) for user to attach link in email and then send for approval.

NOTE - The mail that user will receive will have a link of a VF page in Force.com site. on site, it will be read only detail page of the record along with link to download the attachment. (they do not need the attachment directly in mail, thus saving on with multiple SF governor limits of SF)

  1. Capture the comments via Email (Email response)

You have 2 options, either create a inbound email response or on site page add a text area to add comment (again no need for inbound emails then)

Approved or Rejected status can be captured directly as a status field on that object record.

Do let me know if it is remotely helpful or for any doubts in this or implementation.!!




What about approval through site a bit like email verification of Salesforce, which will only approve your Content. You would put the URL of the site into your email and when the user clicks on the link, approve directly the record. Your site will need to be public and at least full access on the Content object and/or make your controller global.

I'm not sure how many approval you need per day, but you don't want to affect the limit of inbound Email.

(PS: I deleted my comment to put it as an answer)


I was able to achieve this via APEX for Outbound and Inbound Email along with Email Service Settings.

  • 1
    Please expand upon this answer. Just because you were able to achieve this does not help other users with understanding how you achieved it, resources that would help etc. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 5:05

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