Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Close recurring tasks using Apex

At least one developer had reported encountering an error when trying to automate updates to Task records using Apex: System.UnexpectedException: Apex Task trigger cannot handle batch operations on recurring tasks. This error occurs even in simple scenarios, such as simply closing any open tasks on a close opportunity.

While I agree with what I imagine to be general consensus that this error seems crazy, luckily there appears to be a workaround: Update a custom flag using Apex, and then use workflow rules to handle the dirty work of updating restricted standard field(s).

While I've only tested this approach on the scenario below, I think it will be applicable to solving other similar problems with updating Task records using Apex.

Sample solution to close recurring tasks using Apex

The anonymous Apex code below illustrates the solution.

And there's nothing special about the checkbox field, the workflow rule or the field update. The idea is that when the checkbox is checked, the workflow rule fires and performs the field update.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Created By and Last Modified By not set before insert or update

After some frustrating troubleshooting of what I thought would be simple code today, I learned something unexpected: Created By and Last Modified By are not populated or set in the before context of DML operations. This means that before insert, CreatedById, CreatedDate, LastModifiedById and LastModifiedDate are all empty. And before update, LastModifiedById and LastModifiedDate will reflect the previous person to modify the record, not the current user (which would be yourself if you are the one editing the record).

While this was counter-intuitive at first, I came to realize that there's no need to rely on those fields in the context of Apex triggers. All I really need is UserInfo.getUserId() and to get the time.

Just like that... I learned something new today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Person Accounts ignore Contact workflow rules and triggers

Every once in a while I find myself discussing the pros and cons Person Accounts, and inevitably a question comes up about how Account and Contact workflow rules and triggers are impacted. The vague statement that precipitates the question usually goes something like this, "Turning on Person Accounts creates problems for existing workflow rules and triggers." Today I finally decided to explore the validity of this statement myself, and the results were... well, disappointing.

The good news is that turning on Person Accounts will not break any of your existing functionality regarding Business Accounts and Contacts, as long as your Apex code is not automatically creating Contact records for accounts to emulate a one-to-one Account-Contact model.

The bad news is that none of your Contact workflow rules and triggers will fire for Person Account records. To me, this is a problem and poor design of the Person Accounts feature. Admins should at least be given the option to configure, perhaps via a checkbox, whether Contact workflow rules and triggers will fire for Person Account records. But as it currently stands, all benefits from existing Contact workflows and triggers are lost for person accounts.

If you agree with why the above bad news is bad, please promote this idea, "Person Accounts to work with Contact workflows and triggers." And read on if you want to know how I arrived at the above conclusions, which were tested in an Enterprise Edition org with Person Accounts enabled.

Test Setup (Summer '14)

The tests makes use of the following Text fields, for which history tracking is turned on:

  • Account Trigger Message (Account field)
  • Account Workflow Message (Account field)
  • Contact Trigger Message (Contact field)
  • Contact Workflow Message (Contact field)
To interact with those fields, we'll create two triggers and two workflow rules that simply set values for the implied fields on the Account and Contact object.
  • SetAccountTriggerMessage (Account trigger)
  • Set Account Workflow Message (Account workflow rule)
  • SetContactTriggerMessage (Contact trigger)
  • Set Contact Workflow Message (Contact workflow rule)
Now, with the stage set, let's move on to the tests.

Test 1: Create a person account

What happens when we create a person account?  Account workflow rules and triggers fire, but Contact workflow rules and triggers do not.

Test 2: Update an Account-only field on the person account

What happens when we update the Website field? Account workflow rules and triggers fire, but Contact ones do not.

Test 3: Update a Contact-only field on the person account

What happens when we update the Birthdate field? Oddly enough, Account workflow rules and triggers fire, but Contact ones do not.

Test 4: Update a special Account-Contact field on the person account

Knowing that the Account Name is linked to First Name and Last Name for Person Account records, what workflows and triggers will fire when you edit First Name or Last Name? Once again, Account workflow rules and triggers fire, but Contact ones do not.

Workaround for Contact workflows and triggers

The only supportable way to get Contact workflows and triggers to fire for Person Account records seems to be to recreate those workflows and triggers on the Account object. Whether this workaround is a pro or a con depends on your point of view. Obviously this creates more work and maintenance, but it allows for more granular and logical control over what happens with Contact fields for a person account vs. a regular contact.