Winter 21 Sandbox Release Preview: What To Look Out For

Winter is now just a few months away which, for Salesforce admins and developers, means one thing – Salesforce Winter! The winter releases have always provided us with many new features and tools to solve emerging CRM challenges to delight our customers and users. We can only wait to see what the upcoming winter 21 sandbox release has in store. If you’re a sandbox customer, you can get early access to the upcoming Winter 21 Sandbox Release to test new customizations and features. The sandbox preview window opens on September 11, 2020. You, however, need an active sandbox on a preview instance to take advantage of the preview. If your sandbox is already on a preview instance, you can preview the new release with no trouble. However, sometimes you may need to take specific action before the sandbox release date for your sandbox to take part in the preview. Read on to find out more about the preview, what’s expected of you, and other details.

The Basics of the Winter 21 Sandbox Release

Let’s begin with general information about the sandbox service. Salesforce sandbox is the development and testing environment within the Salesforce platform. More specifically, the term “Salesforce Sandbox” refers to a snapshot of the Salesforce production environment based on the date it is created. Sandbox instances (the sandbox location where you can safely develop and test your applications) are divided into two – preview and non-preview. Essentially, sandboxes on a preview get the early upgrade while non-preview sandboxes get the new releases later, sometimes after the production organizations have upgraded. Something else you need to know is that the location of a sandbox (whether it’s in preview or non-preview instance) is determined by the timing of the most recent refresh. Typically, refreshing a sandbox sends it to the preview instance. However, sandboxes that are refreshed during the preview period (like the one starting on September 11) move to a non-preview instance. So, if you have a preview sandbox that you’d wish to keep, then you must not refresh it during the preview period. Otherwise, it would inadvertently be moved to a non-preview instance, meaning you’d lose the upgrade. winter 21 sandbox release

Key Dates

For the Winter 21 Sandbox Release, the upgrade for preview instances will take place on September 11, 2020, and September 12, 2020. Non-preview instances, meanwhile, will be upgraded on October 16, 2020, and October 17, 2020. For the period leading up to the upgrade date (in this case, September 11), Salesforce routes all sandbox requests to preview instances. If your sandbox is complete at the time of the upgrade release, it will be automatically updated to the CRM’s newest version. After the release date (starting September 12, this year), all incomplete sandbox requests are reset to a non-preview instance. The same applies to all pending and new sandbox requests. These, too, will be sent to non-preview instance until the user organization upgrades the production instance to the new Winter Release (in this case, the Winter 21 Sandbox Release). Salesforce explains that they need to do this because they can only create sandboxes on the same major release version of the CRM as the production org.

Your Questions Answered

There are usually many questions around this time when the Winter Release is just around the corner. The following is what you need to know;

You need to create a new sandbox – what do you do?

You have two options. You can create a new sandbox for Summer 20 or Winter 21. Your choice will determine your next step.
  1. Summer 20: If you choose to create a sandbox for Summer 20, you need to wait and submit your sandbox request after 1:00 p.m. PT on September 11, 2020. If you submit your request earlier than this, it may be sent to the preview instance.
  2. Winter 21: If you choose to create a sandbox for Winter 21, make sure to submit the sandbox request well before September 11 at noon PT. Any requests submitted later than this will be sent to a non-preview instance.

You have an existing sandbox – what next?

There are two things you need to do. First, you need to determine your sandbox instance. Then, you’re required to refresh or not refresh, depending on your circumstances.
  • Determining your sandbox instance: This is a reasonably straightforward process. Log into your production org and navigate to your Sandbox List page. Alternatively, search “sandbox” in the Quick Find search bar when you’re on the home page. You’ll find your sandbox instance in the Location column. It’s the fifth column under Sandboxes.
  • Refresh or do nothing: The sandbox instance above will tell you whether you need to refresh, depending on whether you want to upgrade to Winter 21 Sandbox Release or stay on the Summer 20 sandbox. Use this chart from Salesforce to make the right decision.

Features and Updates to Look Forward To in the Winter 21 Release

There’s plenty to look forward to in the new release. For one, layout flows get an upgrade as the pesky flow lines are automated to create auto-layouts for cleaner presentations. Trigger on Delete also gets an update, with a fourth option when “record is deleted” added to the existing three options. Meanwhile, the “Lightning” page gets a new “Analyze” button to help you find out what could be slowing the page. Finally, another exciting update is the all-new “Auto-add new custom fields to custom report type layouts” checkbox under Reports and Dashboard settings. When you check this box, new custom fields you create are automatically added to the report type. So, there’s plenty to look forward to. But, you must first decide whether you want to preview the new Winter 21 Sandbox Release. What do you think? If you are not sure how to go about it, talk to us.