Pipelines: A new way to view and manage your Salesforce release pipeline

Holly White on

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How can your Salesforce team release faster and collaborate more efficiently with total visibility of your workflow? With our brand new, much-awaited feature: Pipelines.

To reach full DevOps success teams need to feel empowered, gain greater clarity and integrate automation into their release processes. Pipelines promotes this way of working and removes a lot of the friction that will inevitably stop teams maturing their DevOps processes and ultimately from reaching their business goals.

Illustration of pipelines

What is Pipelines?

In a nutshell, the Pipelines interface gives your whole team an overview of the current state of all the environments in your release pipeline. It functions as the command center and source of truth for your Salesforce release process - even if only some of your team use the rest of Gearset’s DevOps toolset.

It gives your team complete visibility of all changes that are happening in your release pipeline, how much work there is waiting to be pushed, and provides you with the tooling to get these changes promoted through your environments quickly and successfully, without ever leaving Gearset.

Pipelines UI

What challenges does Pipelines solve?

As we discovered from conversations with users, and in our State of Salesforce DevOps 2022 Report, teams are still facing challenges when it comes to building and releasing on Salesforce. There are a few key challenges that teams will be able to address and overcome by using Pipelines.

Challenge 1: Different ways of working within teams

Many teams still work in silos, partly due to differences in technical experience, particularly between admins and devs.

While Salesforce’s ‘clicks-not-code’ philosophy has made customizing orgs much more accessible, there are times when custom code is still required, meaning teams will often have a mix of both low-code and pro-code professions. This often leads to separation within the team, which can mean bumps in the road due to miscommunication and clashing approaches to release management. It can be difficult to bring the whole team together in one process that’s easy to manage, because team members have different approaches to creating changes, prefer different tools and have varied levels of familiarity with DevOps.

Gearset’s Pipelines tool integrates seamlessly with your Git hosting provider and Jira. Any changes to pull requests and tickets are reflected in the Pipelines UI, whether or not they were made within Gearset. This means your team can happily carry on using the tools they love, even if some devs prefer to stick to the CLI for deployments. Pipelines will always give a complete and accurate picture of your release pipeline.

Challenge 2: Lack of visibility

At best, the steps required to get changes from development through to production are understood by all and carried out consistently. But in other cases they’re simply documented, not practiced, or in the worst case, they’re in the heads of the people who run the process.

Our recently released State of Salesforce DevOps 2022 report shows that over half of teams deploy outside of their defined release pipeline some or most of the time, or don’t have a release pipeline at all.

With Pipelines, your entire release process is mapped out and it’s easy to understand the state of your environments at a glance.

Pipelines UI for merging changes

Challenge 3: Quirks of the Salesforce platform

Salesforce also comes with a number of peculiarities, like complex metadata dependencies, API quirks, and difficulties seeing who changed what - all of which can lead to failed deployments, work getting overwritten and merge conflicts. These features of Salesforce development highlight the need for bespoke tools that help your team deploy changes with all relevant dependencies, apply automatic fixes to deployment errors and see where different teammates’ changes touch the same components.

Pipelines allows you to navigate through these peculiarities with ease, by helping resolve merge conflicts and giving you total visibility of who changed what, when.

What makes Pipelines special?

The great thing about Pipelines is that it goes far deeper than just looking pretty and giving a nice, clear birds-eye view of your environments. Its clever features also make it much easier to be sure that your orgs are staying up-to-date and in-sync.

Pipelines will be a huge help for teams who are already familiar with CI and Git-to-org deployments. Once your team has implemented this kind of automation into their release cycle and started to tighten feedback loops, it’s time to start using Pipelines.

Adopting Pipelines is a great way to give complete visibility to your whole team, even if they like using different tools. For instance, if you have a developer who only works in the CLI and GitHub, Gearset will still track their pull requests and help you manage their development work. This also means that your developer can easily pop over to Gearset to simply visualize the whole workflow, even if it’s not where they spend most of their time working.

These are the main features of Pipelines you can take advantage of:

  • Visualization: Get an overview of your entire release pipeline, with quick visibility of where your changes are in your release process, what needs to happen to move them forwards, and how much work you have in flight. In addition to the CI jobs and environments, you can see all the orgs and Git branches in your release pipeline, including developer sandboxes. You can set up a new feature branch, compare and deploy to it and open a PR to the pipeline - all within the Pipelines UI.

  • In-app merging: Merge branches painlessly thanks to our purpose-built semantic merge algorithm that resolves conflicts. This algorithm is specifically designed to make metadata merge conflicts much less likely, plus we run an additional validation to ensure the deployment is successful. Stories can be promoted individually or in a group, and are then promoted to the next stage in the pipeline.

  • Propagating changes: Automatically make merged changes available for promotion to other environments in the release pipeline. Forward-propagate changes downstream through to release, and back-propagate changes into upstream environments that don’t currently contain them.

Pipelines UI for propagating changes
  • Tight source control integration: Whether you’re working within Gearset or in your version control system, see the same changes and status, allowing your entire team to work together seamlessly.

  • JIRA integration: Automatically update associated JIRA tickets when a work item gets into each successive environment in your pipeline.

Teams who have already started to use Pipelines have commented that it’s a real game changer because of the way it makes the release process clearer, more automated and easy to participate in.

A Senior IT Analyst from a global manufacturing company told us that the Pipelines view is so valuable and central to their processes, it has now become their default screen in Gearset: “This is now my map to see how stuff is flowing, who’s running a job and when, because I’m ultimately responsible for making sure things keep going.”

How to set up your first pipeline in Gearset

From the continuous integration dashboard in Gearset, you can find Pipelines by clicking on the toggle view button in the top right corner. Find a full walkthrough of setting up your first pipeline here, or catch up on our launch webinar now.

The DevOps solution you can’t do without

With Pipelines, you can take control of your entire DevOps processes across three key areas: deployments, automation and monitoring. You and your team can see exactly which changes need to be promoted, or back promoted throughout the workflow.

Like the rest of Gearset, we’re constantly working on Pipelines and delivering further improvements so you can expect to see even more in the coming months!

Pipelines is an Enterprise feature, so if you have an Enterprise license you can go and set up your very first pipeline today! If you’re new to Gearset you’ll be able to try Pipelines by starting a free 30-day trial.

Ready to get started with Gearset?