A major tool that is used for the deployment of Salesforce is the Ant Migration tool that is popularly called the Force.com migration tool or Salesforce migration toolkit. Many individuals and business owners are not aware of how it works as there is a lot of confusion around this tool. This post focuses on helping you understand the above better and how it can benefit individuals and businesses using Salesforce.
An insight into this migration toolkit for Salesforce and how can it help you?
The migration toolkit for Salesforcecan be used for two major Salesforce deployment tasks that are namely, to change sets and to make changes to production data manually. Developers of Salesforce depend upon Force.com when they want to create a better deployment schedule that is fully automated in nature. Changing sets is useful for automation however it needs to be done manually and the process is time-consuming. Moreover, it takes a lot of time for one to log into the production data and start making the changes manually.
Most teams are making attempts to create modern deployment schedules under Salesforce. This also entails using the Salesforce sandbox task that generally entailsconducting changes in the developer Sandbox and helping them to migrate to the staging sandboxes for testing before they are used in production data. With the help of this migration tool, the deployment process between environments can be made without much of a hassle.
This tool is a command line that uses Java/Ant programming language to allow developers of Salesforce to access the metadata API of Salesforce indirectly for moving Apex and changing the configuration between the different Orgs.
The metadata API of Salesforce is actually based on SOAP APIand it permits the developer to push and then retrieve a few metadata types. There of course is a generaltransition in the development of software targeted at REST APIs.Again, this is the major reason why most of the developers do not like tasks that entail SOAP APIs. This tool permits you to work with metadata API directly drawn from the command lines. Here you do not need to access and visit SOAP scripts.
Understanding the Ant Migration Toolkit
Most of the time, you might hear developers call the Force.com migration toolkit as Salesforce Ant Migration toolkit or in simple terms “Ant Scripts”. You need to understand what Ant is and whether both of the above are similar?
Ant uses Java and it is a tool that has been taken from Apache that is free from Salesforce and is used for the creation of build steps. If you know Make files often find few resemblances between Make and Ant. Ant was primarily created to manage some challenges that were linked to Unix deploys.
Just because Apex and Salesforce are deeply impacted by Java, the above migration tool balances Ant to create deployments and builds on the platform of Salesforce. Therefore, both Ant and Force.com are one and similar in several expects except they called differently.
The installation process
When it comes to the installation of force.com migration toolkit, you first need to install Ant and Java into the system. For the purpose of security, Salesforce recommends you should use Java 1.7.x and you can also use any version released later of the same. The installation process is easy and you might have it already installed on your system. Salesforce also suggests you should use Apache Ant version 1.6 and any version that has been released later.
Once you have set the above prerequisites, you should follow all the instructions on screen for the installation process to get completely successfully.
Is this toolkit better than Eclipse?
There are several developers that are deploying Eclipse for Salesforce coding. Eclipse might be simple however it is challenging and very slow. If you want to avoid this painful process, it is prudent to use the Ant Migration toolkit for accelerating deployments as and when needed for Salesforce.
Are there any limitations?
This Migration Tool has a few flaws and it does have some limitations for you to note. Since it banks on the metadata API of Salesforce, it is not able to deploy all types of metadata. There are some types of meta data not compatible with the API and again there are some that are supported but extremely difficult for you to use in an automated manner like Permission Sets and Profiles.
At the same time, you should note that the tool can be harmful in the absence of any source controls. So, while conducting deployments when you are using a command line, it can be simple for you to clobber codes of coworkers ultimately resulting in cases where you can overwrite the code of Salesforce created by colleagues in the organization.
Again, when you take the Force.com migration tool as a command line utility, it can become intimidating to most members of your team. If you are not savvy using a command line, you will not like to use this tool. Moreover, other stakeholders and admins of Salesforcedo not have the benefits of deployment with this tool.
Last but not the least this migration tool needs a lot of maintenance and has costs for setup. It is expensive for developers of salesforce to setup and maintain scripts under Ant. You require creating new scripts, managing edge cases as well as mistakes. You also require configuring Bamboo and Jenkins or deploying an alternate Build system. At the same time, you need to have a dedicated employee for maintaining a good process for deployment and even would need more depending upon the implementation of Salesforce in the business and the team size engaged with it.
Therefore, when you wish to use the Force.com migration tool, keep the above in mind. For assistance and help ensure you collaborate with skilled consultants in the field. The process of deployment you embrace for your needs should be smooth and not too expensive to burn a hole in your pocket.