Salesforce Classic is (Almost) Officially Dead
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Salesforce Classic is (Almost) Officially Dead

Salesforce Classic has received many cutting blows the past few years, but like Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, it still lives! With the recent publication of Salesforce's Winter '20 Release Notes, perhaps the end is truly here for Salesforce Classic. Unlike the TV series, don't expect Classic to overcome the "Lightning King." See what we did there?

Are we about to see a long-time favorite fade away into the sunset? Let's take a look.

Lightning Strikes!

Since the Lightning Platform was announced at Dreamforce 2014, and the subsequent launch of the Lightning Experience user interface in the Winter '16 release, Salesforce has been gradually nudging users toward Lightning.

At the same time, Salesforce is very much aware of the investment customers made in Classic. Naturally, it has been cautious about making any disruptive moves. So with our final GoT reference, we can say that there has been no "Red Wedding" to kill off Classic, yet. According to Salesforce's Feature Retirement Philosophy, we'll know at least 12 months ahead of time before they finally pull the plug.

Since Salesforce's October 2016 release, all customers and users have had access to the Lightning interface. But absent any public statement by Salesforce, it's difficult to assess their success in moving users to the new platform.

Lightning and Classic currently exist side by side on the Salesforce Cloud, and users were initially afforded the option to toggle between the two views. Think of it as a 'try it, you'll like it' proposition.

Early converts to the Lightning UI complained of poor performance and reported that key capabilities from the Classic edition were not available with Lightning. Over time, both of those drawbacks have been addressed. However as of Winter 2019, Salesforce was still plugging Classic holes in Lightning.

Carrots and Sticks

Salesforce has used various carrot and stick schemes to encourage customers to switch to Lightning. For example, in the Summer '17 release, administrators were allowed to hide from users the ability to toggle from Lightning to Classic. And as of Summer '18, Classic users were automatically switched to Lightning once per week. With the same release, some new Salesforce licensees were not even given the option of Classic.

With the Spring '19 Release, Salesforce brandished a further stick when they revealed that they would not be adding any more features to the Classic edition.

So what about "carrots" that help encourage use of Lightning? Well, all along, Salesforce has provided tools to help admins encourage their users to adopt the Lightning UI. The Trailblazers Community has a whole series of tips and tricks for admins to motivate their users to work in Lightning Experience.

In addition, Salesforce has been promoting the benefits of capabilities and features that are only available with Lightning. These include Sales Cloud page features that can increase sales teams' productivity and help them close deals faster, as well as business-impacting features such as Steelbrick Quote-to-Cash, Einstein AI analytics reporting, Lightning Voice, and Lightning Sync with Microsoft Outlook.

Winter 2020 Release: The Nudging Becomes a Push?

It's clear that Salesforce is 100% behind Lightning and the Winter '19 Release Notes confirm this. With this most recent set of Release Notes, we see that Salesforce is pushing even harder away from the Classic edition. They tell us again that "The future of the Salesforce user experience and platform is Salesforce Lightning."

Making Lightning Experience the Only Experience

While Salesforce is not ready to kill Classic, they are making it very clear that Lightning is the way they want users to go. Around January 7, 2020, the Lightning Experience will be switched on automatically for all users, meaning they'll see the Lightning interface when they log on.

Current Classic users will be able to toggle back to Classic, but will be switched back to Lightning on a weekly basis, Of course, Salesforce would like admins to keep users on the Lightning track by hiding the option to switch to Salesforce Classic.

The Winter '20 Release Notes include a comprehensive set of tools to help admins prepare for transition from Salesforce Classic to the Lightning Experience.

Trimming Classic Capabilities

As they are building on Lightning-supported features, Salesforce is cutting back on Classic-related capabilities. The following retirements are scheduled:

  • Classic Designer: Starting with Winter '20, admins will no longer be able to create, edit, or open dashboards in Classic designer. Existing Classic designer dashboards must be converted to the new Dashboard Designer.
  • Salesforce Classic HTML-Based Email Templates: A critical update from Summer '18 is now being enforced in the Winter '20 release. Classic HTML-based email templates can no longer be accessed using Microsoft Internet Explorer, because IE does not support the Salesforce Content Security Policy (CSP).
  • Einstein Discovery Classic: This feature will be retired in the Spring '20. Current datasets and stories must be recreated in Analytics Studio.
  • Customizable Forecasting: This feature and its underlying data will be retired in the upcoming Summer 2020 release. Customizable Forecasting is a Classic-only capability, which has been replaced by Collaborative Forecasts.

Still Filling the Gaps

As we mentioned earlier, there are still quite a few Salesforce Classic features that are not supported in the Lightning Experience. A few more gaps have been plugged with the Winter '20 Release:

Wrapping Up

Did we answer the question of whether Salesforce Classic is officially dead? Well it's probably not dead yet, but it's definitely on its way out. Salesforce still has some work to fill the Classic gaps — and convince foot-dragging enterprise customers to make the transition.

But the end is coming. Now is a good time to begin discussing your organization's Lightning transition with sales and marketing leadership. Prepare by taking a look at our blog post on making the switch to Lightning. Also, start planning how CBT Nuggets training can help get your users up to speed on the Lightning Experience and transitioned to the new platform.

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