The Summer ’21 Salesforce Release for Experience Cloud & CMS
A Release Overview, My Top 5 and the List of All Experience Cloud & CMS Updates
Salesforce’s Summer ‘21 release is here! As we’ve come to expect, there is no shortage of innovative updates to the platform as a whole. As far as the DXP arena goes, Salesforce has included 23 updates for Experience Cloud and 6 updates for CMS this time around.
To help you assess the impact, importance, scope, and value of this release for Experience Cloud, I’m introducing something new: release impact metrics. These metrics, while subjective to a degree, should help you quickly gauge each release overall and against past releases.
Additionally, I’ll share my personal top 5 and a list of all the Experience Cloud and CMS goodies in the Summer ‘21 release.
Phil’s Release Impact Metrics
NOTE: While this is ultimately a subjective exercise, I do think carefully about each section and review every single update for consideration when making my assessments. Transparently, this is a “real” take on each release. I will call out amazing releases as amazing and sub-par releases accordingly, as well. Feel free to reach out with any feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
The Salesforce Summer ‘21 release contains 23 Experience Cloud updates and 6 CMS updates, tying the last two releases for the fewest total Community/Experience Cloud & CMS enhancements (29) in the past few years.
Degree of Innovation
A few updates stand out as innovative, including:
- Show Model Cards and Customize Time-Based Predictions in the Einstein Predictions Component
- Use Privileged Script to Bypass Shadow DOM in LWR Sites
- Create and Manage Content Publication Schedules in Salesforce CMS
However, the majority of the updates in Summer ‘21 are incremental additions, security enhancements, or expected updates based on a product’s standard growth lifecycle.
I hate to say that, but I don’t see any true “game changers” here. What’s a game changer, you might ask? It’s an update that significantly impacts how site admins, users, buyers, and/or decision makers view what is possible with Experience Cloud.
If I had to identify one items that is in the arena of “game changing,” I would call out the Build Your Own (LWR) is Available to All update. This has actually been out for a while, however; only now is it available to customers not paying for CMS. I would call this template a game changer, but its reach is all that is changing in the Summer ‘21 release.
End User Excitement
I’m going to go with a low rating here, as well. As far as I can tell, the enhancements that are most immediately impactful to end users are:
- Add Assistive Text to Images on Experience Builder Sites
- See Asset Status via the Path Component
- Improve Your Site’s Performance with a Dedicated Certificate for Your CDN (Generally Available)
- See All of a User’s Posts on Their Profile Page
- Grant Unauthenticated Guest Users Access to Records Owned by High-Volume Users
- Protect Customers During the Login Process
- Protect Experience Cloud Users by Verifying Email Address Changes
While the first few are nice to have, the performance option is useful, and the security-related are welcome updates, I would stop short of assessing any of these as capable of generating much user excitement.
Assessment: A few nice-to-haves, but nothing to call Grandma about.
Look, let’s face it: we’re spoiled. Experience Cloud has delivered years of voluminous, innovative updates and we’ve come to expect the same. While the Summer ’21 release doesn’t quite line up with those expectations, Salesforce does continue to move the needle forward and bring some useful enhancements to its digital experience platform.
Phil’s Top 5
My top five, in descending order:
#5: See All of a User’s Posts on Their Profile Page
Salesforce’s summary: A user’s profile page now also includes posts with comments they made in groups and on topic pages and records.
#4: Show Model Cards and Customize Time-Based Predictions in the Einstein Predictions Component
Salesforce’s summary: Allow users to view the model card associated with the predictions they see. Calculate time-based predictions using a relative start date. Format the prediction to show as the time remaining, or as a date.
#3: Create and Manage Content Publication Schedules in Salesforce CMS
Salesforce’s summary: Now you can schedule your Salesforce CMS content to publish and unpublish at designated dates and times, as well as publish with an auto-unpublish in one step. And you can view publication schedules. Previously you could only publish and unpublish content immediately.
#2: Enable Topics for Knowledge in Lightning Experience Setup
Salesforce’s summary: Topics organize knowledge articles and make them available for members in your Experience Cloud site. Now when enabling knowledge for your site, you can enable topics for knowledge and other objects conveniently in Lightning Experience Setup. This feature was previously available only in Salesforce Classic.
#1: Build Your Own (LWR) Is Available to All
Salesforce’s summary: The Build Your Own (LWR) template is now available in all supported editions without purchasing Salesforce CMS. Previously, the template was available in Developer Edition or when you purchased Salesforce CMS in Enterprise, Performance, and Unlimited editions.
The Complete List
|Experience Builder Sites||End of Support for Internet Explorer 11 in Experience Builder Sites||Extended Support for IE11 for Experience Builder sites ended on December 31, 2020. Users trying to access Experience Builder sites with IE11 see a window informing them that they’re using an outdated browser, and to either update or use another browser for a better experience. New features are supported and available only on modern browsers.|
|Experience Builder Sites||Maintain Business Continuity with the Customizable Service Not Available Page (Generally Available)||We strive to always maintain the continuity of your site, but we’ve also got you covered on the rare occasion that your site’s down. Even if your site is unavailable, you can still keep in touch with customers, maintain brand continuity, and create cases. Use the Service Not Available page in Experience Builder to configure a message and image that fits your brand. Include Email-to-Case directly from the Service Not Available page to continue to receive cases from customers. The Service Not Available page is displayed to customers when your site is unavailable, but doesn’t change the experience of your customers when the site is available.|
|Experience Builder Sites||Redirect Users to Your Experience Builder Sites||Now you can redirect users from a non-Salesforce site URL to an Experience Builder site URL on the same domain. This feature also retains the discoverability and SEO equity of your web pages.|
|Experience Builder Sites||Add Assistive Text to Images on Experience Builder Sites||Assistive text helps blind and low-vision users with screen readers to better understand an image appearing on the page. Your users can now add assistive text when they add an image to an Experience Builder site with forums or feeds.|
|Experience Builder Sites||See Asset Status via the Path Component||Add the Path component to asset pages, and allow site users to see its status.|
|Experience Builder Sites||Show Model Cards and Customize Time-Based Predictions in the Einstein Predictions Component||Allow users to view the model card associated with the predictions they see. Calculate time-based predictions using a relative start date. Format the prediction to show as the time remaining, or as a date.|
|Developer Productivity||Build Your Own (LWR) Is Available to All||The Build Your Own (LWR) template is now available in all supported editions without purchasing Salesforce CMS. Previously, the template was available in Developer Edition or when you purchased Salesforce CMS in Enterprise, Performance, and Unlimited editions.|
|Developer Productivity||Brand Your LWR Sites More Easily||LWR sites, such as sites created with the Build Your Own (LWR) template, now include a Theme area with extensive branding properties. Build out your site with color palettes, Salesforce CMS images, and text styles to reflect the best version of your brand.|
|Developer Productivity||Use –dxp Styling Hooks to Brand Your Lightning Web Components (Generally Available)||Lightning Web Runtime (LWR) includes a new branding system that uses –dxp styling hooks. With the new system, you can modify base and custom Lightning web components more easily to achieve a consistent look and feel across your LWR site.|
|Developer Productivity||Improve Your Site’s Performance with a Dedicated Certificate for Your CDN (Generally Available)||Adopt a single certificate content delivery network (CDN) to protect your brand and site’s security. When you purchase an Experience Cloud license, you get 10 single domain certificates for the CDN and 48 terabytes of traffic, an increase from 5 terabytes. The CDN manages the certificate for you, so you can set it and forget it.|
|Developer Productivity||Hide First and Last Name Fields in SOAP API for Experience Cloud Site Users||Now when your users make API calls from a site with nicknames enabled, you can hide the first and last name fields in SOAP API for Experience Cloud site users.|
|Guest User||Grant Unauthenticated Guest Users Access to Records Owned by High-Volume Users||Choose whether to include records owned by high-volume community or site users when you create guest user sharing rules. By default, guest user sharing rules include only records that match the rule’s criteria and are owned by authenticated users, guest users, and queues. Because of security improvements in Experience Cloud sites, this setting is the only way to grant guest users access to records owned by high-volume users.|
|Guest User||Update Guest User’s Email Address (Update)||When you create an Experience Cloud or Salesforce site, Salesforce automatically creates a guest site user. In any site created before the Summer ’21 release, the email address for the site guest user record was that of the Salesforce user who created the site. After the Summer ’21 release, the system generates a dummy email address to use in the guest site user record.|
|Guest User||Update Guest User Licensing||Update your unauthenticated guest users in sites created before Spring ’21 to the provisioned guest user license, which gets updated automatically.|
|Security and Sharing||Secure HTTPS Connections Are Enforced in Experience Cloud Sites and Salesforce Sites||Settings that enforce HTTPS connections or upgrade HTTP requests were enabled and removed because they’re required and enforced by default. These changes apply to all sites, regardless of whether they’re served on a custom domain. We recommend that you allow HSTS preloading registration for custom domains that host content through your sites, which adds protection by removing the opportunity for attacks during HTTP redirections.|
|Security and Sharing||Protect Customers During the Login Process||Protect your customers after they successfully log in to your Experience Cloud site with Embedded Login by blocking redirects to unknown URLs.|
|Security and Sharing||Protect Experience Cloud Users by Verifying Email Address Changes||To protect user accounts against security threats, Salesforce now automatically enables the Require email confirmations for email address changes setting. With this setting enabled, Experience Cloud site users must verify their email address changes.|
|Other Changes||Use Tabbed Navigation in Mobile Publisher Apps||Make navigating your site on a mobile device simple with tabbed menus. The tabs are always displayed at the bottom of the screen, making navigation quick and easy (and even one-handed) on your mobile publisher apps.|
|Other Changes||Improve Your Site’s SEO||Improve your Experience Cloud site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by redirecting requests from your site’s system-managed URL to the HTTPS custom domain that serves the site.|
|Other Changes||Improve Performance for Your Site’s Authenticated Users||Improve your authenticated users’ experience by caching your site’s Visualforce pages on their web browsers.|
|Other Changes||Enable Topics for Knowledge in Lightning Experience Setup||Topics organize knowledge articles and make them available for members in your Experience Cloud site. Now when enabling knowledge for your site, you can enable topics for knowledge and other objects conveniently in Lightning Experience Setup. This feature was previously available only in Salesforce Classic.|
|Other Changes||See All of a User’s Posts on Their Profile Page||A user’s profile page now also includes posts with comments they made in groups and on topic pages and records.|
|Other Changes||Create, Edit, and Delete Tasks with the Customer Community License||Update tasks with Customer Community licenses. Users can create, edit, and delete tasks that they own. They can also create tasks for other users and make updates on tasks that are shared with them.|
|CMS||Create and Manage Content Publication Schedules in Salesforce CMS||Now you can schedule your Salesforce CMS content to publish and unpublish at designated dates and times, as well as publish with an auto-unpublish in one step. And you can view publication schedules. Previously you could only publish and unpublish content immediately.|
|CMS||Share CMS Content through a Default Domain in Public Channels||Now you can serve Salesforce CMS content through the Experience Cloud Content Delivery Network (CDN) without setting up a custom domain for your public channel. As an alternative to obtaining a custom domain for your public channel, we’re offering a default domain that you can use to directly source your CMS content through our CDN partner, Akamai.|
|CMS||Edit Existing Salesforce CMS Custom Content Types||Use the ManagedContentType Metadata and Tooling APIs to add new fields or change the properties of existing fields in custom content types.|
|CMS||Access CMS Content with an LWC Wire Adapter (Beta)||Use the Lightning Web Components Wire Service to access Salesforce CMS content data. The lightning/cmsDeliveryApi module listContent wire adapter retrieves published CMS content versions for an Experience Builder site.|
|CMS||See More Details About Your Site on the CMS Experiences Page||See more information about your site at a glance. New columns include Last Published, Last Published By, Template, and Framework. The Framework column tells you whether your site is using Lightning Web Runtime, Aura, or Visualforce under the hood. You can also link to your live site from the Action column.|
|CMS||Locate CMS Image Content References by Site||Track which sites use your Salesforce CMS image content. The enhanced Used by card on the image information page now links to Experience Builder sites that use that image.|
Enjoy the Summer! While you’re at it, dive into Salesforce’s Summer ‘21 release and take advantage of the latest Experience Cloud and CMS updates. Make sure to get started early in a release preview org or, if applicable, a sandbox; don’t get caught by surprise. Good luck and let me know what you find valuable!
Phil Weinmeister is the VP of Product Management at 7Summits. He is a Salesforce MVP with 20 certifications and has authored three books that guide readers through leveraging Salesforce in their digital solutions.