Kittenforce! aka. telling your users when your instance is down for maintenance

The other day, Scott (check out his blog here) and I were at work chatting about the security trailhead superbadge (specifically, my domain). When you have a custom domain for your salesforce instance, you can customise your login page (or replace it entirely).

I then decided that a would make the login page far better, and hence;

After this, I went to login to a sandbox to do some actual work, only to be greeted with the ‘Please check your username and password. If you still can’t log in, contact your Salesforce administrator.’ message.

I was fairly sure I hadn’t forgotten my password, so I tried it again… nope. same thing.

What I had forgotten, was the fact that the daily deployment to that environment was happening, and as such all users except for the DevOps team were frozen out.

Which got me thinking… If I can put kittens on the login page, then why not some useful information too.

So, that evening I built this;

The concept is fairly simple, when you put an environment into ‘Maintenance’ mode (e.g during a deployment, etc) it freezes all users, excluding a defined list (e.g the DevOps team, system admins) and changes the login page to show a message informing the users of this.

When you are finished and disable maintenance mode, it will unfreeze all users and change the login page message back.

It uses a custom object to store a list of users who were frozen before the environment entered maintenance mode to ensure they stay frozen once the environment is changed back to normal mode.

The actual page itself is hosted from a site, and is configured via a custom setting and custom metadata, which includes allowing them to be override by other pages.

If you would like to try this in your org, click here for the unmanaged package

For installation instructions, see this post.

I would love to hear any feedback you have, feel free to comment below.


SOQL to CSV Utility

Recently, I needed to come up with a way for some simple case metrics to be available to users, these metrics need to contain cases that the user may not necessarily have visibility too.

Now, there are a couple of options here;

  • Dashboard
  • Scheduled report
  • Something custom

Now the first two options are the ones I would normally use, both dashboards and report can be scheduled to be run as a user that has access to all cases, and emailed to those who need to see them, dashboards having the added advantage that they can be viewed any time.

But what if you need the data in excel? Well, you could copy/paste from the scheduled email, or get someone to export it for you. But neither are a great solution.

So you could build something custom, which is what I have done here;

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 11.46.46 AM

Now, this tool, on its own isn’t much use to your average end user, as a working knowledge of SOQL is required to use it. However, this can very easily be extended to store frequently used ‘exports’ in a custom setting, use custom permissions to grant access to the tool, attach the resulting CSV to a record, or be scheduled to send the csv via email at a set interval using scheduleable apex.

Here is how it works;

The SOQL query entered in the text box is run against the database, returning a list of SObjects. Once we have this list we need to construct a CSV.

The first line of the CSV is the column headings, taken from the text box on the page (or alternatively, the API names of the field entered as part of the query string). For the sake of simplicity, I have simply extracted these fields from the SOQL query (the fields in the list are always in the same order as in the query), however you could use the SObjectDescribe to do fancier things here.

The code then loops through the list of SObjects, and subsequently the list of field names, each loop writing a line of the CSV and then adding a new line at the end

 for(Sobject s :sobjects) {
            for(String fn :fieldNames) {
                csvReport += '"' + s.get(fn) + '"' + ',';
            csvReport += '\r\n';

We then return the CSV as a string to the VisualForce controller, and display it on a page. In order to make the page ‘render as’ a CSV, rather than HTML or text, we need to set the content type attribute of <apex: page>, this also allows us to set the filename of the downloaded CSV.



That really is it, on pressing the Download button, the user is sent to the Download VisualForce page, which renders as a CSV and the browser downloads.

If you wanted to send the generated CSV via email, or attach it to a record you could simply call the Blob class to and attach the resulting blob to an email or record.

The complete code for this example is sitting on my github, feel free to use it and extend it as you wish.