The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Version Control
Version control is a critical aspect of an optimized Salesforce DevOps pipeline, heightening accountability, flexibility, and precision.
Why It Matters: Accidental overwrites and contradictory coding structures can arise when multiple developers are working on a single project. Using version control is essential to mitigate these problems, streamline development, and contribute to successful deployments.
- Multi-developer teams are a great way to expedite releases but are prone to problems.
- Salesforce change sets are cumbersome and frequently require multiple attempts when crucial dependencies are missing.
Here are 7 critical aspects of Salesforce version control:
- Understanding the Role of Metadata
- Learning the Types of Version Control in Salesforce
- Implementing Version Control
- Applying Salesforce Version Control Best Practices
- Incorporating Team Workflows
- Managing Rollbacks
- Ensuring Data Security Considerations
1. Understanding the Role of Metadata
Everything you do in Salesforce either creates or interacts with metadata. It represents the configuration and customized aspects of your environment. Metadata needs to be intentionally preserved and cared for to avoid disruptions in functionality and threats to your system data.
Version control tracks the changes made to configurations, objects, fields, workflows, Apex classes, Visualforce pages, and other components that define the behavior and structure of your Salesforce instance.
Failing to grasp the breadth of metadata’s role will create confusion about what should be version controlled, how changes will affect the system, and how to manage conflicts or dependencies between different metadata components.
2. Learning the Types of Version Control in Salesforce
There are numerous options for Salesforce version control systems. Project complexity, scalability, integration capabilities, and alignment with existing development workflows will determine which option works best for your team.
- Git: This distributed version control option is easy to use and allows developers to continue making local commits even when they aren’t connected to the server.
- GitLab: This tool manages both version control and release pipelines. Teams can choose this tool when they want a single tool for both CI/CD and versioning.
- GitHub: This is a code-hosting platform for version control and collaboration. It allows developers to work together on projects even when spread out geographically.
- Bitbucket: This is Atlassian’s version control option. Bitbucket still follows a Git framework and allows you to do most version control actions.
3. Implementing Version Control
As is the case with any new tool, a thoughtful approach to integration will make the process much smoother. The very first step is to determine which Salesforce version control tool works best for your needs.
Next, define clear guidelines and processes for how your team will use version control. Outline and document branching strategies, commit conventions, and workflows.
Move slowly. Encourage developers to make smaller, incremental changes and commit them regularly to the version control system. This helps track changes more effectively and reduces the likelihood of conflicts during merges.
4. Applying Salesforce Version Control Best Practices
Once you get up and running, there are a few things you can do to get the most from your version control efforts.
- Organize your Salesforce metadata and code in a logical, structured manner within the version control repository.
- Adopt a branching strategy that suits your development workflow.
- Encourage developers to commit changes frequently and in smaller, incremental updates rather than large, infrequent commits.
- Teach developers to provide descriptive and concise commit messages that explain the purpose and context of each change.
- Implement a review process using pull requests or merge requests before merging changes into the main branch.
- Integrate version control with CI/CD pipelines.
- Regularly back up your version control repository to prevent data loss.
- Provide training and guidance to your development team, especially if they are new to the system or concepts.
5. Incorporating Team Workflows
Smooth collaboration and effective management of changes is only possible when teams have a clear understanding of how their work fits into the larger system.
A well-defined branching strategy helps manage concurrent development while isolating new features or changes until they are ready for integration. Guidelines must be provided for merging changes back into the main branch. And when conflicting code is found, the team must understand how to resolve those issues.
Documentation and communication are critical to fostering a collaborative environment that is moving in the same direction. Confusion leads to errors. Having a wide understanding of expectations and knowing how to proceed in any given circumstance eliminates these mistakes.
6. Managing Rollbacks
Rollbacks refer to the process of reverting changes made to a previous state of the codebase or repository. This helps restore a system to a previous state in case of errors, bugs, or unintended changes.
When an error occurs, review the history and commit logs to identify the specific version or commit when the code was stable and functional. This helps determine the point in the version history at which the rollback should be performed.
Initiate the rollback process by reverting the codebase to the identified stable version. This typically involves a command—for example, git revert in Git—to undo specific commits. After the rollback, the code should be thoroughly tested to ensure that the issues have been resolved and the system is functioning as expected.
Once the rollback is completed, communicate the rollback action to team members to keep everyone on the same page. Document the reason for the rollback to prevent similar issues in the future.
Afterwards, analyze the root cause of the problem that led to the rollback. Implement preventive measures, such as better testing procedures, code reviews, or stricter guidelines, to avoid similar issues in the future.
7. Ensuring Data Security Considerations
Your Salesforce version control system must be protected as vigorously as any other part of your platform. The failure to do so can result in hacks that expose all connected system data.
Implementing strict access control measures like two-factor authentication are crucial to providing proper protection of your version control system.
Other measures like encryption, data masking, and anonymization can be used when the data being handled is particularly sensitive or subject to compliance regulations. And as mentioned earlier, frequent data backups are a must.
Managing a large team can be difficult. Now that you understand how version control helps address some of these issues, it’s time to consider how to best protect sensitive data in this environment.
Check out our blog, Implementing Zero Trust in Salesforce Release Management, to learn more about why internal threats are just as dangerous as external threats and how to mitigate them.
Why should I use version control in Salesforce DevOps?
Mistakes are inevitable, and this becomes even more likely with every additional developer added to a DevOps project. Version control is crucial for maintaining code integrity, fostering collaboration, and enabling efficient development cycles. It provides a comprehensive history of changes made to Salesforce configurations and code, enabling teams to track modifications, revert to previous versions if necessary, and understand the evolution of the system.
Can change sets serve as an effective version control system for Salesforce?
Change sets are not a substitute for a comprehensive version control system. They’re a mechanism for moving metadata changes between different environments. While change sets facilitate the deployment of configurations and code, they lack the robust versioning capabilities inherent in dedicated version control systems. Change sets lack granular tracking of changes, detailed version history, and branching capabilities, making them less suitable for managing complex or concurrent development workflows.
How does version control facilitate collaboration among team members working on Salesforce projects?
Version control offers seamless cooperation and coordination. It provides a centralized repository where developers can simultaneously access, modify, and contribute to the codebase. Version control allows team members to work on different branches, making independent changes without disrupting the main codebase.