The last two Salesforce releases - Winter '08 and Spring '08 - were rolled out in rapid-fire last November and February, respectively. Maybe because of the large number of new features in each release, or maybe because of the holidays in between, I've just realized during conversations with a couple of different clients that many folks aren't aware of some of the great new functionality. With the Summer '08 release right around the corner, I wanted to provide a couple of quick refresher courses to make sure you aren't missing out on any of the functionality that's already out there. I'll focus on the Spring '08 release below, and will go back in time even more to cover the Winter '08 release in my next blog entry. 

(By the way ... there are many, many more features that were rolled out the past two releases and I don't mean to short-change all of the others, but the ones I'll cover are some that will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of low implementation time and high impact for your org.)

  • Dashboard Scheduling: This is one of the most useful updates in ages, especially if you are one of the many of us who have ever looked at a dashboard in disbelief before finally realizing that the information is from a month ago and you need to refresh (don't lie, you know you've done it!). Now you can schedule automatic refreshes (daily, weekly, or monthly) and, even better, you can have the entire dashboard emailed to you or other users each time it is refreshed. If you use dashboards and haven't enabled this feature yet, do so immediately! Just go to your dashboards tab and click the arrow on the refresh button.  
  • Outer Joins Reporting: While it still doesn’t enable exception reporting (i.e. Campaigns WITHOUT Members or Accounts WITHOUT Contacts), outer joins reporting does provide the ability to report on data in a useful way that wasn’t available before. Now you can create a report that shows all Campaigns and their associated members, if any exist. Check out custom report types to start building reports with outer joins. But read on for a way to finally do true exception reporting for Accounts without Opportunities …  
  • Opportunity Rollups on Accounts: I can’t tell you how useful this feature is. You can finally create custom formula fields on accounts that aggregate Opportunity data. There are many possibilities for rollups, such as seeing the number of opportunities for each account, the total value of all deals for an account, etc. Most importantly, you can do exception reporting – create an rollup summary field that counts the number of opportunities for each account and then report on all accounts that have zero.  
  • Advanced Validation Rule Functions: For those of you using validation rules (and just about everyone should be in order to enforce some data quality), three new functions are available for building complex rules – VLOOKUP, ISNUMBER, and REGEX. The VLOOKUP is especially helpful, allowing you to lookup data in another object to use as a basis for validation. As suggested by Salesforce, you could validate the zip code in an address by using VLOOKUP to search for a match in a custom object containing valid zip codes. Even more exciting, according to Eric Bezar of product management, Salesforce is planning to allow VLOOKUP in more places in the future, like maybe workflow field updates and custom formula fields. Bring it on!  
  • List View Builder: Some small enhancements have been made to the list view builder, making it easier to select and order columns. “Created by” and “Last Modified by” information is also included now.  
  • Activity Enhancements: Drag-and-drop Calendaring lets you reschedule events by dragging them to a new time or day on the single-user calendar view. Also, spell check is now available for notes and comments on activities.

If I've peaked your interest enough, you can get more details on the Spring '08 release blog or you can download the detailed release notes.