As of Summer ’17, Salesforce released the ability for users to export their communities as a packaged solution, allowing quick creation of new communities or packaging for distribution on the AppExchange.
What is Lightning Bolt?
Lightning Bolt is a new metadata type that includes most everything in your community: themes, CSS, Lightning components, page layouts and files are all included. It can be used inside the org it was exported from by simply selecting the theme when setting up your new community, or applied to an existing community. It can also be packaged and distributed.
Who should create and use Lightning Bolt solutions?
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Lightning Bolt templates have several use cases:
- A customer who wants to stand up a new community without starting from scratch
- A partner who wants to build specific templates & themes for accelerated development for their clients
- An ISV who wants to develop specific pages or templates for distribution on the AppExchange
How do I create a Lightning Bolt solution?
Start with any of the Communities templates (Napili, Partner Central, etc.) – build out your community with all the custom and standard components in place, modify the styles and layouts you need, and once you’re ready, export! To prepare, here’s what you’ll need:
- Bolt Name – Automatically filled in with the name of your community
- Category – Sales, Service, Marketing, IT. Helps end users find the solution by putting the template in the right place in the community template chooser in Workspaces.
- Images – These images are shown in the community template chooser. These should highlight what your Bolt template is focused on. It’s recommended that they are 1260x820px so they fit properly into the format on the template chooser in your user’s Workspaces.
- Summary – A short, 255 character description of your Lightning Bolt template.
- Features – These are short details about your product. You can have up to 4, each with a title and description. The title can only have 16 characters and the description 255, which is a bit limiting, but forces you to get creative. These end up showing on the template detail after selection from the Workspaces template chooser.
Lightning Bolt Gotchas & Troubleshooting
Despite it being super easy to actually create & export a Lightning Bolt template, there are some things to watch out for as you’re building and exporting.
- What DOESN’T come over – Many of the same things that don’t come over when you deploy a community from org to org don’t come over when you export a template either, including admin settings, language translations, and any <head> code or custom CSS in the Branding Editor.
- Are you up-to-date? – You can only export a Lightning Bolt template based on the latest version of the template on which you are building. Before you start, ensure you’ve updated the template.
- Exporting a Lightning Bolt template is pretty final – the name is unique (you can’t re-export with the same name), and any changes you make to the community itself (settings, added/removed pages, changed what components appear on what pages, etc.) then you will need to re-export the community.
- Watch for broken images – If you have broken images in the Branding Editor (your Company Logo or Header Image), the template will export, but will not install correctly, so ensure before you export that those images are referenced correctly.
- Namespacing & CSS – For those of you building Bolt templates for customers or end users, beware of the namespacing that happens on any custom components you create. Assuming you package the solution as a managed package, the namespace gets appended to the component name, which can affect any CSS that you have applied. For example, if your CSS selector is Custom_Component h1, then the final exported managed package version will be NAMESPACECustom_Component h1.
- Test test test! – Because of the aforementioned unique name requirement, be sure to name each test export of the template something different than what your final export will be (ie, “Bolt Template beta 1.0”, or “Bolt Template Test 1”). To test in a different org, you’ll need to package the Bolt template and install it in another org. I recommend testing in a fresh dev org where you’ve enabled communities.
- More considerations from Salesforce Help here.
Lightning Bolt solutions are a brilliant addition to the communities library, and will allow partners, ISVs, and customers alike to get their communities up and running in no time. Perficient has two Lightning Bolt templates ready in the AppExchange already: IdeaCentral for Employees and IdeaCentral for Customers, both allowing a place for your employees or customers to generate ideas, collaborate and interact with your product or business. Check them out and let us know what you think!