What is Chatter all about?? The Pros and Cons

4:47 AM

I recently had to do an analysis about chatter as my customer wanted it to be enabled and i thought it would be worth sharing it here.

What is Chatter?

Before we start to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of chatter let me give you a sense of what chatter is.

Chatter is like a social networking website (twittter, orkut, facebook etc) with the only difference that the users of Chatter are the people within a company (ie Salesforce.com users). Chatter is an application which allows you to connect and share information with your colleagues in real time. Chatter when used efficiently could lead to excellent Service and Sales within your company.

As an example, let's say that you are using the "Call Center" application of Salesforce. A customer of yours has raised a case and it is being taken care of by your customer service representative. If the representative does not know a solution, he can simply write a post in chatter asking for help. His colleagues could help him quickly by replying to the post. This would lead to quicker customer service.

More Information about Chatter:

You can find more information, code recipes, and an excellent custom application called "Chatter Bubbles". click here.

What you can't find in the above link is obviously the disadvantages. So, let's see it here.

Features not available as of now :

  • Chatter could be enabled for the entire organization only. So, if you say that you want only a had full of users to use Chatter then that's not possible.
  • The profile page (Profile tab) of every user is not customizable. When you login to Salesforce, at the right topmost corner you will see your Name next to the Setup link. When you click on this link you will be shown your profile page, which displays the people you follow, the people who follow you etc. This page is not customizable.
  • Chatter email notifications are predefined. You cannot customize them.
  • Anybody can follow anybody. NO RESTRICTIONS.
  • You can see the Show/Hide Chatter button on the home page as well as on the detail page of any record (the associated object should be enabled for chatter). You cannot remove it from the home page as well as from the detail page of records. The Chatter gadget is not associated with page layout and hence cannot be removed.
I hope that these will be addressed soon by salesforce.

Some Quick Tips:

Get registered for a free developer preview - Click here

Chatter Email Settings:

Chatter custom feeds:

You can write triggers to create custom feeds. All objects related to chatter are exposed through the API and hence you can play around with them. Here is a small example

trigger customfeeds on Opportunity (after update) 
     for ( Opportunity newopp: Trigger.new) 
             Opportunity oldopp = Trigger.oldMap.get(newopp.id);
             if (newopp.Probability != oldopp.Probability)
                 FeedPost fpost = new FeedPost();
                 fpost.ParentId = newopp.Id; 
                 fpost.Body = ' - Probability has changed from '+oldopp.Probability +'%'+ ' to '+newopp.Probability +'%';
                 insert fpost;