Since the Salesforce Winter ’16 release notes came out in late August, we have seen customers eager to use the now extensible Napili template in the Salesforce Community Builder. Why? It offers companies a way to quickly setup an attractive, engagement-centric self-service community that is built on the modern Lightning framework and it is fully mobile-responsive out-of-the-box. From an architecture perspective, what makes it truly different from a Force.com community is the importance of topics in the community. They are at the core of how everything is tied together and crucial to understand. Here are 10 things that you need to know about topics in the Napili template:
- Topics are the core of Napili and are used to categorize conversations and Knowledge Articles. Using topics is a logical choice in many ways; not only can Chatter posts be tagged with topics, but since most Salesforce objects can have topics assigned (using the Topics for Objects feature), it’s an easy way to tie data from different objects together and have a many:many relationship.
- Topics are managed from inside the Community Management console. You can create topics, edit topics, merge topics, and delete topics. You can also create navigational topics and featured topics, which are also topics behind the scenes, just with super powers.
- Navigational topics show up in the menu bar and control to which topics you can ask a question from the home page. If you’re on any topic detail page and click the “Ask a question” button, that topic will be populated in post destination field by default, but you can select to post it to any navigational topic as well. Navigational topics also have the ability to have their own header image.
- You can automatically escalate unanswered questions after a certain time period to different support queues based upon the topic to which the question was posted. This requires a combination of the process builder and Visual Workflow, and can be a bit tricky for those new to Visual Workflow. There are some tricks to the trade, like how to identify the primary topic to which the question was posted when a question has multiple topics assigned, but it can be done. If you let users create their own topics, you will want a catch all bucket to create a case for questions tagged with topics that you have not defined in your flow.
- Featured topics are shown in square tiles on the home page and represent topics that you want to feature, hence their name. I personally like featured topics to be a subset of navigational topics, so that when you click on a featured topic image, it can have a matching header and a unified user experience. You can have featured topics that are not navigational topics, but users cannot post questions directly to them in this case and can only add the topic to the post as a secondary topic.
- From a navigational topic, you can assign data categories. This is not actually storing the relationship between a topic and data category behind the scenes; instead, what is happening is that it is assigning that topic to all existing articles assigned to that data category. If you create new articles, they will not be automatically assigned any topics.
- Articles must be assigned topics in order to show up in search results. This means that after publishing a new article, you need to assign it one or more topics, and this must be done from inside the community. Topics are community specific, so any topics assigned from your internal view of Salesforce will not show up in the community.
- The discussions and articles that render on a topic detail page are those which have been tagged with that topic. Discussions show up in the order you define, and articles are sorted based upon some secret algorithm. Our theory is that it is based upon an article’s popularity.
- You can enable users to create topics or use those that you have defined. If you enable users to create topics, the templates will actually make suggestions to community users about which topics to add. The obvious benefit to this is that if your community wants to talk about a topic that you have not thought of, they have the ability to do so and you will learn from them what topics most interest them. The downside is that you can end up with a proliferation of similar topics that your community moderators will need to clean up from time to time so that users clicking on #widget, aren’t missing all the conversations happening related to #widgets. Note: Topic permission are controlled at the profile level, so if your internal users have the ability to create topics in your internal Salesforce instance, they’ll be able to in your community as well.
- The Trending Topics lightning component shows topics with the most conversations in recent time. When you setup a new community, you will notice trending topics will be empty until you populate test data. If there are no posts for a few days, you’ll see it show no results. This makes sense, as nothing is currently trending.
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If you have any questions on topics in the Napili template that I didn’t cover in this blog, feel free to post your questions and I’d be happy to answer them!