Its very important to keep a check on release cycles with cloud platforms like Salesforce. Salesforce provides you with three seasonal releases every year which are combination of enhancement, addition & retirement of features. These changes are usually based on feedbacks from customer and huge Salesforce community+ they always try to respect the changing industry needs, best practices and trends.
- Winter – Around month of October
- Spring – Around month of February
- Summer – Around month of June
It can be confusing at times as to what are the release dates for your specific instances. Worry not, in such cases directly head up to trust.salesforce.com and find your instance information respective to the product that you use on Salesforce cloud. You get a detailed view of past, present and future maintenance events planned for your respective instances including sandbox and developer instances. Under the list of events you can check for ‘Major Release‘ labelled events to check on these seasonal updates. Look at below example of AP10 Sales Cloud instance which shows a Spring’24 release scheduled on Feb of 10th 2024 for core services:
Salesforce provide critical updates that contain bug fixes, security/performance/usability patches apart from the seasonal updates. Changes are first analysed for impacts with customer orgs. If there are no impacts, Salesforce will directly install the update. You can check for critical updates in Setup > Release Updates
Opt-in Process: In some situation you can use an opt-in process to test and verify the change. You can activate-deactivate these changes as required in the opt-in period from Setup section. The opt-in process completely depends on the specific critical update. One cannot deactivate an update sometimes. Its highly recommended to review a critical update on a sandbox environment (lower level orgs) first.
Enforcement Schedule: Time period after which your updates are enabled without manual intervention. Salesforce support team can postpone some critical updates if you have some issues with same.
Every seasonal release comes with a preview time slot. During this period, one can get access to various preview environments like sandbox/developer instances such that you can try, test and verify new features. Its always a better approach to strategise your release cycles considering all of above.
Each seasonal release have detailed release notes. You can find release notes at help.salesforce.com
There are mainly two types of releases in Salesforce one is Generally Available (GA) and other is Beta release. If you ask my experience I have seen some mission critical features to be hanging in beta state for years. So its my humble opinion that when its not a big part of your process, try to make the most use of beta releases. If its a very important piece of puzzle, just wait for it to be GA or bring your own solution, as beta features are not part of SLAs.