The Force.Com Migration Toolkitand Its Key Role inSalesforce Development

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One of the major tools that are used for Salesforce migration is the ANT migration toolkit that is also known as the Force.com migration toolkit or the Salesforce migration tool. However, multiple business owners are not aware of how it works and what role does it have in an organization. This post is targeted to help those who are new to the ANT migration toolkit to understand it better so that they can deploy it for the benefits of their business with success.

An overview of the ANT migration toolkit, and how can it help your organization?

The ANT migration toolkit can be embraced by admins and developers of Salesforce primarily for two reasons- the first to make changes to the metadata of the organization manually and secondly to changesets. Developers and admins that use this tool intend to make an improved deployment schedule that is completely automated. In order to make the deployment schedule fully automated, the developer needs to changesets, and the task needs to be done manually. This is time-consuming and can cost the company a lot. The developer has to log into the production org and make every change manually. 

Many developer teams are making attempts to make modern deployment schedules with Salesforce, and this means using tasks that entail making changes in the sandbox of the developer and assisting them to migrate to staging sandboxes for tests before they are implemented into the production org. With the help of the ANT migration tool, this deployment process between two environments can be done seamlessly without any kind of hassle at all.  

The ANT migration toolkit is actually a command line that deploys Java/ANT language to permit admins and developers of Salesforce to indirectly view the metadata API of Salesforce for migrating the APEX lines to change the code configuration between the different environments. 

The Salesforce Metadata API is based on the SOAP API, and it allows the admin or developer to push and later retrieve some types of metadata. There is a general transition in software developmentthat is targeted as REST API. This is a key reason why most admins and developers are not keen on conducting tasks that involve SOAP APIs. With the help of the ANT migration tool, developers and admins are able to directly work with the API that has been taken from the command line. Here, you do not have to visit and access SOAP scripts.

What are ANT scripts?

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Often, you might hear admins and developers calling the Force.com migration toolkit as ANT scripts or the Salesforce Ant Migration tool. Here, you need to know the meaning of ANT and whether both of these terms are the same or not. 

ANT deploys the use of JAVA, and it is a tool with its origins from Apache that is independent of Salesforce. It is generally used for creating build steps. If you use Make files, you will find that most of them have minor resemblance ANT was made for managing a few small issues that were associated with Unix deploys. 

Both Salesforce and Apex are influenced a lot by Java, and this is why the migration tool helps in balancing ANT for creating deployments and other builds on the Salesforce platform. Both Force.com and ANT are one and the same in many aspects, except different names call them.

Understanding the installation process 

You first need Java and ANT to install the Force.com migration tool into your system. For security reasons, Salesforce suggests that you use the Java 1.7 x version or higher. This process for installation is simple, and you might have it installed in your system already. You should use the Apache ANT version 1.6 or any other version that might have been released at a later date. Once you have installed the above, you should follow all the screen instructions for ensuring the installation process completes successfully. 

Is it better than Eclipse?

There are some admins and developers that use Eclipse for coding under Salesforce. Experts state that though Eclipse is easy for you to use, it is very slow, and this poses a lot of challenges to your projects. If you wish to bypass the troubles of a slow process, you should switch to the ANT migration tool for speeding up the deployment process for Salesforce as and when required. 

Challenges of the ANT migration tool 

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Now, comes the questions of flaws? This tool has some minor issues for every admin or developer under Salesforce to note. It relies on the Salesforce API metadata, and this is why it is not able to deploy all kinds of metadata. There are some kinds of metadata that are not compatible, while some might be compatible. There are challenges when you wish to use profiles and permission sets in an automated way.

Simultaneously, you should take note that this tool can be harmful if there are no source controls. When you are conducting deployments with a command line, there are instances where the codes of your teammates get stuffed together, causing you to overwrite them, resulting in a wastage of time and effort.  

Again, if you consider the tool as a command line, it is often intimidating to some or even most of the other members of your developer team who do not have the training or the experience of using command-line utilities. They will not want to use this tool. However, if you and most of your team members have experience with working with command-line utilities, this tool brings you a lot of benefits when it comes to software development.

When it comes to the maintenance of this tool, the organization does need to incur costs for its set-up. This, of course, can be quite expensive for some developers in the Salesforce team, especially when it comes to maintaining scripts under ANT. Therefore, if you want to use this tool, you should keep the above in mind to get the desired results with success!

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