ERD at your doorstep – Schema Builder

Salesforce had introduced a Beta version of Schema Builder in Winter 2012. Although the feature remains in Beta, a few important features have now been added to Schema Builder. In Spring 2012 release Salesforce has introduced ability to create new objects and fields directly from Schema Builder, besides improving the user interface of the tool.

The Schema Builder is available in the AppSetup section of Setup area, just below the Deploy links. The Schema Builder has two parts –

a)      Search section on the left part

b)      Main Schema section where the schema is displayed

The Search section has two tabs – Elements and Objects. The objects tab displays a list of all objects (standard and custom) being used in the Salesforce instance along with checkboxes. The user can select the objects which she wants to be displayed in the Schema window. If the Salesforce instance is complex and has many objects, then a search box filter can be used to find specific objects. The Select All and Clear All links are available to quickly edit all object selections. The user can click on an icon next to an object to view that object in the Schema Builder. The section can be collapsed to view the schema in the while window. This part of the functionality has not changed significantly in this release.

The Elements tab in the Search section is a new addition in Spring 12 release. It is used to create new objects and fields. The user can drag the Object icon from the Search section to Main Schema section. This brings up a popup dialog similar where user can provide inputs similar to the standard New Object interface, as shown below.

Screenshot of new object in schema builder

Similar to object creation, the user can also drag-and-drop fields to add custom fields. A subset of field types are supported at present including Checkbox, Currency, Text, Date, Number, Email, Master Detail and lookup.

The Schema section as before displays the selected objects, their fields, and their relationships. The objects may be moved around by just dragging them. Schema legend is available for quickly navigating to other sections of schema. Also user can easily change the zoom settings based upon their requirements. If rendering the schema is taking time, Salesforce recommends removing relationships display from the schema.

Schema Designer will be useful for documenting object designs and also for quick prototyping.

A few of the features that are still missing from the Schema Builder are –

a)      Ability to print or generate a PDF of the schema is a feature that most developers and admins are eagerly awaiting. Once that is implemented this product should be ready to move out of Beta. At present only way to capture the Schema Builder is to take a screenshot.

b)      The addition of fields does not support certain field types like formula.

c)       Deletion of objects or fields is not yet supported.

Salesforce is continuing to add more functionality to Schema Builder and the summer ‘12 release should see some of the above resolved.