The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Metadata

The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Metadata_CodeScan

Salesforce data is given a lot of attention and consideration, and for good reason. This information has a direct impact on your system’s security, can contain sensitive information on both team members and customers, and can impact the overall stability of your network.

Metadata is generally considered to be “data about data” and it needs to be given just as much attention as the rest of your Salesforce data.

The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Metadata_CodeScanSalesforce metadata rules impact the functionality of your system. This could include properly documenting when and where information was entered or even the automatic populating of required fields and objects.

When it comes to DevOps, metadata is constantly being created as an application or update moves its way through the development pipeline. Properly understanding—and managing—this important metadata is an essential aspect of a robust data governance strategy.

With that in mind, we thought we’d provide an overview of the most important aspects of Salesforce metadata. This information will help you better understand how metadata impacts your Salesforce environment, why you need to protect it, and how automation can be used to better handle it.

1. Types of Metadata

Metadata is a hugely important aspect of your Salesforce environment and needs to be protected as rigorously as other types of system data. And while there are a wide variety of different kinds of metadata—such as structural, descriptive, administrative, statistical, and more—Salesforce metadata can be placed into two larger buckets: platform metadata and custom metadata.

Platform Metadata: Provides information about aspects of the environment such as defining fields and storing descriptive information.

Custom Metadata: Describes how a field is handled or relates to another field. This includes information that allows you to create relationships between objects, business or logic rules, or how data is handled and validated. When speaking of metadata in Salesforce, we are commonly referring to custom metadata.

2. Finding Metadata

The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Metadata_CodeScan

Being aware of metadata is only the first step. Retrieving and protecting metadata means you need to be able to locate it. Here are a few ways you can find Salesforce metadata:

Application Programming Interface (API): APIs allow users to create repeatable functions and organize code. It can be used to manage platform customizations and gather metadata.

ANT Migration Tool: This is a command-line tool which can be used to move metadata out of a Salesforce org and into a local filing system.

Managed Packages: These pre-packaged collections of application components can be used to send and retrieve metadata as needed.

Manual Searches: We love to tout the benefits of automation, but manual searches can also be useful for finding metadata even if it isn’t a streamlined process.

3. Metadata Within DevOps

Metadata exists in the background of our Salesforce environments. And without proper introduction, it can be difficult to know exactly how it interacts with DevOps processes. Here are a few things metadata does to support Salesforce DevOps.

Customizations: Metadata dictates the customizations that make your Salesforce environment specific to your needs. These components are driven by metadata.

Related Fields: The links between objects and fields leading to auto population are connected through metadata.

Comprehensive Backups: Including metadata in your backup strategy preserves the customizations and functionality your team members use every day.

Automation Assistance: DevOps pipelines that use automation save time and money. Metadata supports custom application logic to enable workflow automations.

4. Metadata + Unstructured Data

Properly organizing your Salesforce data makes it easy to find information you need, track trends over time, and properly protect sensitive data. However, data sets can grow very large and become difficult to manage over time.

Unstructured data is information that doesn’t fit into current organizational models. Metadata can be used to provide the needed structure.

Assistance with automation and providing insights into current businesses practices can be made easier once this unstructured data is properly organized.

Metadata can be used to program an automated audit of your unstructured data. These processes can analyze data and organize it by type, date, or any other defined factors that make it easier to compile similar data sets.

5. Metadata’s Impact on Compliance

The Ultimate Guide to Salesforce Metadata_CodeScanProper handling of sensitive data such as personally identifiable information (PII), financial information, and medical information is essential to complying with the various data security regulations. And while this sensitive data is an essential aspect of properly addressing compliance concerns, it is not the only aspect.

Salesforce metadata needs to be protected and monitored just as vigorously as other types of data to remain compliant with data security regulations.

A solid data governance strategy is a big part of properly managing Salesforce data. The attributes of each data set as defined through metadata can be used for identifying, defining, and classifying your system’s information.

Regulatory guidelines often relate to the manner in which your company needs to organize, handle, and store sensitive data. Metadata provides the structural framework to accomplish this.

6. Metadata Security Concerns

Data security vulnerabilities exist within almost every aspect of your Salesforce environment. This is why we recommend instituting security considerations into every aspect of your development pipeline. Metadata is no different.

Being aware of the various types of metadata will help you protect your system against cybercriminals.

Redacted or otherwise deleted data has the potential to live on through metadata. This information can be exploited by bad actors. API credentials can be hacked, opening your system and exposing data. Corrupted metadata can impact the functionality of your system and damage important files.

There are a variety of negative outcomes of improperly protected metadata. However, proper attention to maintaining healthy metadata will support proper functionality, data governance, and ultimately support the overall success of your data security efforts.

Develop high quality, secure code!

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