Salesforce Releases and Preview Window
Salesforce comes with 3 releases each year – Winter, Spring and Summer. These are bringing a lot of new functionalities to your sandboxes and production environment, but also can cause some confusion about refreshment and release dates – as not all instances are being updated at the same time!
If you have ever struggled with understanding how Salesforce Releases and Salesforce Preview Window work, check our explanation and plan your sandbox refreshment strategy accordingly.
You may be wondering, why we have mentioned the following order of Salesforce Releases: Winter, Spring and Summer. It is because these three will be having same number, indicating for which year these are dedicated.
- Winter ’22 (released by the end of 2021)
- Spring ’22 (released at the beginning of 2022)
- Summer ’22 (released mid-2022)
Therefore, next release in 2022 will be already Winter ’23.
So don’t be confused – Winter ’23 is the last release of 2022!
Investigate your environments instance
First step is to know your instance. There are various instances and upgrade time for them may vary a little bit. Also, for sandboxes, the behavior may be different, depending on the instance.
Quick way to check what is you instance is to navigate to Company Information, directly from Setup menu.
For sandboxes you can check all your environments instances without a necessity to log in to every sandbox – simply go to Sandboxes tab from Setup and you will see list of all active environments and instances for every sandbox.
If you are wondering, what is current Salesforce Release on your instance, it is visible at first glance.
In Lightning, if you are quick enough, you will see an animation, while your page is still being loaded.
In Classic, you will see current Salesforce Release logo, next to search bar.
Check Salesforce Release dates
Once you have identified your environments instances, go and check what is next Salesforce Release date. This will give you an opportunity to prepare your sandboxes for it.
Salesforce publishes a release calendar, with an information about upcoming releases up to one year forward. In order to find an exact date, navigate to status.salesforce.com.
You will find a table with Salesforce products, as not every product may follow same release date, as the “core” Salesforce instance.
To find what you are looking for: go to Salesforce Services tab and look for Maintenances. You will see that in some months there are plenty of activities, which most likely indicates a Salesforce Release.
Find your instance on the list to get exact Salesforce Release date.
Decide about your sandboxes
Now it is a tricky part. While you have no influence on Major Salesforce Release coming to your production (it will be updated at the given date), you have the option to control when your sandboxes will be upgraded.
Generally, you have two options:
- take part in Salesforce Sandbox Preview Window and upgrade your sandbox(es) to new Salesforce Release BEFORE (4 weeks) production gets updated.
- don’t take part in Salesforce Sandbox Preview Window – your sandboxes will be updated at the same day, as production.
Once you have decided, what you would like to do with your sandboxes, it is relevant to either take an action and refresh it… or to do nothing and wait for an upgrade.
Understand cut-off activities
As mentioned, sandboxes are being upgraded to new Salesforce Release around 1 month before it is available in your production. Next step and actions depend on your sandbox instance.
If your sandbox is on Preview instance:
- to get it upgraded you do not need to do anything. It will be automatically upgraded on Sandbox Preview cut-off date.
- to keep the previous release (if you do not want to test new functionalities or you need fully production-a-like environment) you need to plan your refresh to perform it before cut-off date.
If your sandbox is on Non-Preview instance:
- to get it upgraded you need to plan your refresh to perform it before cut-off date. If you do this before that date it will be placed on Preview instance and will be automatically upgraded on Sandbox Preview cut-off date.
- to keep the previous release you do not need to do anything. It will stay on Non-Preview instance and won’t be upgraded until production is upgraded.
Understand sandbox refreshment considerations
We have mentioned cut-off date of Sandbox Preview window. Basically so-called “window” is a time frame, when you need to decide about your sandbox (refresh it or not) and perform such action.
Note the following:
- dates are slightly different for each Salesforce Release. In general, they are being published few weeks before you need to take any action. Check example for Winter ’23 Sandbox Preview Instruction for more details.
- if your sandbox will be on Non-Preview instance after the cut-off date, you will need to wait until production gets upgraded to have new release in it – refreshing it after given date won’t change the release it is on.
- generally – each sandbox refreshed after cut-off date, will be on Non-Preview version of Salesforce (so same release, as your production).
- sandbox clone option works differently – newly cloned org will be on the same version as a template – so new release will be there, if you cloned it from a sandbox, on which new release has been upgraded during Preview Window.
- consider refreshment time, especially for you Full Copy sandboxes – it needs to be refreshed before cut-off date, and closer to this date sandbox refreshment may take significantly longer to be refreshed (also depends on size of the data it will be copied from your production org).
To Refresh or Not to Refresh – that is the question
Check official Salesforce video and consider your sandbox refreshment options.
Can I deploy to production during Preview Window?
You may be wondering what to do in the situation, that your sandboxes are already upgraded to Preview Window (ex. Winter ’23), while your production is still on previous release (ex. Summer ’22).
Generally, you are not blocked with the deployment. In your Release Strategy you should be avoiding big releases near same date, as Salesforce Releases (this will make your life much easier). But if there is a need of production deployment during Preview Window you can still do so, just remember about few important facts:
- if you used new feature in your sandbox (like from Winter ’23 Release), you can’t promote it to production (yet). You need to wait until production is upgraded or rethink your solution.
- you need to deploy with production API version (like 55.0).
- there are some components, which are having API version tied to them, like APEX classes. In such scenario you need to downgrade these to match your production API (while on sandbox it will be working fine and created by default with higher one, ex. 56.0).
- consider, that some functionalities may become deprecated. So, something may be working in your sandbox with API 55.0, while it will stop working in API 56.0. That is why Preview Window is so important – you should spot such issues before they are in production!
Learn from official Salesforce materials
Deciding about refreshment may be not an easy, however Salesforce is here to help you.
Check materials referenced in the article and below ones to make sure you master Salesforce Releases and Sandbox Preview Window:
- Salesforce Sandbox Preview Guide
- Salesforce Release Resources
- Get to Know the Salesforce Release Process Trailhead
Proper planning is critical part of maintaining Salesforce environments and will allow you to get most of Salesforce Releases – it is always a good idea to prepare what is coming to your production, before it is there.
Plan your refreshment strategy accordingly and make sure that you are ready for 3 Salesforce Releases each year!
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