Publishing Salesforce.com to an RSS feed (the easy way)

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I posted a while back about how someone published Salesforce.com to an RSS feed. I didn’t receive any details about how this was done.

I decided to give this a try on my own using tools that I was familiar with and without having to write any code. I accomplished this using Blogger to create my blog and Salesforce.com workflow to perform the publishing to the blog. It took about 1 hour including testing time. I did the example with Leads, but this example could work with any object that supports workflow.

All I did was:

  1. Created a new blog at Blogger.com. Any blog tool will work as long as it supports posting to the blog via email (most, if not all, do).
  2. This blog could be hosted on blogspot.com (Blogger’s hosting site), but then it is publically viewable on the Internet. You can help your cause by not putting in the blogspot listings and not pinging weblogs, but it’s still out there. Instead, I published it to a folder on my web site and added password protection to access that folder. I created a “blogger” FTP user on my site that has direct access to that folder and nothing else on my site.
  3. Create a workflow in Salesforce.com based on the Lead object. For testing purposes, I set it up to only trigger on new leads and had criteria where the Create Date > 1/1/2000. Thus, it triggered for every new lead. The workflow alert I setup sent an email to the posting email address of the blog. Blogs support HTML formatted emails, so you can create a nice looking email template to post the information to the blog and make it look nice. Be sure to include a link to the record in the email template so a blog reader and go right to that record in Salesforce.com is necessary.
  4. The blog posting was published immediately. After adding a lead, I immediately refreshed the blog page in my browser and the data was already there.
  5. For added convenience, I added the blog RSS feed to my Newsgator Online account and was able to see the postings from there.

I was able to do all of this in ~ 1 hour and everything I used is free and required no fancy code. It does take knowledge (if you do step #2) about setting up a folder on your web site, password protecting it and adding an FTP user to access that folder as their root. However, with my ISP, I can do all of that with point-and-click, so it was a piece of cake.

Personally, I don’t see much use in publishing leads in this manner because people should be encouraged to use Salesforce.com instead of another tool. However, this concept could be powerful in other capacities. For example:

  • Run a script to pull statistics out of Salesforce.com and publish the results to the blog for executives to view. This only makes sense if your organization is particularly frugal about licenses. Option 1 would be to use Dashboards for this, but if people don’t have access, this could be a good way.
  • Run a script to post to your CRM Project Blog about the success of the project thus far.
  • When running an integration, use a blog to post the integration run summary. This posting could then have links to the detailed log files on the network. Use multiple blogs too. Perhaps have 1 for the standard summary and 1 for high alerts.
  • Use it as an escalation path for cases when the escalation team is not yet online with Salesforce.com. This would be an alternative to emailing people directly or using a mailing list.

The point of this posting is about the value of RSS and how it should not be forgotten when thinking about solutions in your Salesforce.com implementation.

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