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App Overview

Salesforce is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that hosts applications that customers can access online. Beyond its core CRM product, Salesforce offers a customizable platform for configuring relational databases, business automation, web portals, reporting tools, and robust applications for supporting a wide range of use cases.

Data Model

At its core, Salesforce is a relational database. It has some out-of-box or "standard" data tables and features, but can be easily extended to include "custom" metadata configuration and other app features.

Salesforce data is stored in individual records (rows) and organized within objects (tables). Record attributes are captured in fields (columns). The data model is configurable, but there are some standard objects that are provided. Note that naming conventions for custom and standard metadata may differ (e.g., all "custom" field names include the suffix __c like CustomField__c).

Learn more about how data is structured in Salesforce at the links below:

Integration Use Cases

Salesforce may be used to manage an organization's programs, operations, fundraising, and more. Therefore integrations with 3rd-party apps is a common requirement.

Example user stories:

  • As a program or M&E manager working in areas with limited internet connectivity, I would like to collect data on a mobile applicaiton that supports offline data capture, but then sync the data collected to Salesforce so that I can centrally monitor field activities and analyze data collected to evaluate program impact.
  • As a fundraiser at an NGO, I would like to see all donor information tracked in Salesforce so that I can better monitor fundraising activities, nurture relationships with all funders, and manage campaigns.

APIs & Integration Options

Salesforce has a rich ecosystem of developers and ready-made applications. See the Salesforce App Exchange for existing apps and integrations custom-made for Salesforce. If existing applications do not meet your functional or budget requirements, leverage Salesforce's robust APIs to configure a custom integration.

  1. APIs: Salesforce has a robust set of RESTful APIs that support a wide range of operations. For connecting with these APIs, including the Bulk API, OpenFn has developed a robust API adaptor for quicker integration setup - see language-salesforce.
  2. Webhook: By configuring Outbound Messages that can be sent via criteria-based Workflow Rules, Salesforce Admins can configure real-time notifications to be sent to OpenFn (or any endpoint URL) when a specific event occurs. (E.g., every time a new Contact is created, send an Outbound Message to OpenFn to trigger a data sync between that SF Contact record and another data system.)

App Setup & Integration Tips

Salesforce provides robust online documentation (see Developer Docs) and tutorials (see Trailheads) for learning about the platform. See below for helpful tips for your next Salesforce integration project.

Field API Names

Salesforce field API names (unique names for each piece of metadata - e.g., PatientID__c) should be referenced in OpenFn integrations, not field labels (business-friendly label that the end user sees - e.g., Patient ID) image.

To view the Salesforce API field names, navigate to the Salesforce backend. Via the web app, select Setup from the top naviagation menu to browse the Salesforce backend settings, metadata configuration, object and field names, etc.

  • In the Classic view, search for Object in the left-hand Setup search box without hitting Enter. From the quick results, select Create -> Objects. This takes you to all the custom objects. Select an object and you'll see all the fields and relationships on the object.
  • You can also easily view Salesforce API names via the front-end UI by downloading the Chrome extension Salesforce Show API Name. Follow the instructions for adding it to Chrome and use it to display API names without going to Setup.

Mapping and Design Considerations

External Identifiers

Individual fields can be configured as external identifiers to search for a record via a the API/an external app and to help prevent duplicate records from being created in Salesforce. To enable this setting on an individual field, ensure External ID is checked on the field settings. Learn more about external identifiers in Salesforce at image

Relationships and Lookup Fields

When mapping lookup fields (which are similar to database "foreign keys") in Salesforce, use the external identifier of the related record. Examples:

  • Say there is a Survey__c object in Salesforce with a lookup field called Respondent__c that looks up to the Person__cobject with external ID PersonID__c. To populate the Survey__c.Respondent__c lookup field, our mapping will look as follows: Respondent__r.PersonID__c: {personExtIdFromSourceData}.
  • If the metadata are standard objects or fields, then you do not need the __r to indicate there is a relationship. Example mapping: Account.CustomAccountID__c: {AcctIdFromSourceData}
  • If using the OpenFn adaptor, you may also choose to leverage the relationship(...) helper function in your job. Example mapping: relationship('Respondent__r', 'PersonID__c', dataValue('sourceField'))

Picklist fields

As you design your integration and map data elements between systems, make sure that option values for picklist fields also match the data from your connected application. If your other app's field value options do not match Salesforce picklist values, you should consider (1) transforming or re-labeling the values received from the source system before sending to Salesforce, or (2) add new picklist values to Salesforce to align the metadata between systems.

Example: When mapping a field that specifies sex, the source system could have the options "male", "female", "other" and the destination system has the options "M", "F", "Other". The mappings would need to specify how to align the values (e.g., M: male, F: female).

Multi-Select Picklist fields: If mapping to a Salesforce multi-select picklist field, note that multiple values should be formatted as semicolon-separated strings (e.g., Services__c: 'Food;Counselling;Medical_Aid).

Salesforce Credentials

Salesforce requires a username, password, login URL, and security token to authenticate via a user. Note every time you reset the user's password, the security token will reset and you need to update the Credential record used in your OpenFn job.

Credentials Menu

A "Salesforce" Credential record should include:

  • Username
  • Password
  • Security Token (Salesforce will email you this when you set your password. If you cannot find "security token" in your inbox, see below for how to reset it.)
  • Login URL: If a production system, use (unless you have a custom domain For sandbox environments,

Salesforce Cred

For use in the CLI, see an example salesforce configuration

Resetting Your Security Token

See instructions here or below screenshot. Once reset, you will receive an email from Salesforce. Please save this security token in your OpenFn Credential.

Token Reset

Common Errors

  1. INVALID_FIELD: Foreign key external id not found: This error message usually means that the parent record for an object has not been synced. For example, if one tries uploading participants for an event that has not yet been synced.
  2. TypeError [Error]:This error usually mean that the job received a part of the message that it wasn't expecting, or there is a syntax error in your job code. It means that the job needs to be updated to know how to handle the message.
  3. NOT_FOUND: Provided external ID field does not exist or is not accessible: This error usually means that External ID has not been checked in the field settings in Salesforce. See Mapping and Design Considerations section above.
  4. MULTIPLE_CHOICES: Multiple records found: This error means that Salesforce has found multiple records with the External ID that was specified.
  5. REQUIRED_FIELD_MISSING: Required fields are missing: This error usually means that a field which is required on the object being updated has not been set.
  6. JSON_PARSER_ERROR: This error usually means there is an error with how you are mappings and assigning fields. For example, this error would be thrown if an empty string ' ' was being mapped to a date value.
  7. RangeError [Error]: Invalid time value: This error is telling us that the datetime in the source data is in an unexpected format and not handled by the job. You may need to either manually clean the source data, or update the cleaning rules in the job to automate this cleaning step.
  8. INVALID_FIELD_FOR_INSERT_UPDATE: Unable to create/update fields: This might occur when trying to update a Relationship field, for example a Person related to a Person's Visit. The field setting Allow reparenting on the Master-Detail relationship field may need to be turned on .
  9. UNABLE_TO_LOCK_ROW: unable to obtain exclusive access to this record: This error occurs when either 1) the OpenFn job tries to update the same record more than once at the same time or 2) the OpenFn job tries to updates a Salesforce record at the same time as someone else in the Salesforce system (this includes any automation that may be running in parallel to the OpenFn jobs).

OpenFn Adaptors

OpenFn has a robust language-salesforce adaptor with a range of helper functions for common CRUD & upsert operations, and for accessing the Salesforce bulk API.

Example Implementations