The ability to access what you need, when you need it on your device of choosing is certainly a prominent theme within our lives nowadays. For me (as I’m sure it was for many others) it was the emergence of Salesforce which really delivered this notion to the enterprise cloud computing arena especially when it came to customer data.

But what about our files? Over the past five to ten years how we create, store, collaborate and share our files has been exponentially evolving and so too has the “Document Management” industry. We have seen cloud offerings such as Google Docs, Box and Sharepoint Online become stronger and stronger solutions but also many organisations have deep ingrained on premise document management solutions such as Microsoft Sharepoint. So unless you were prepared to develop your own integrations or purchase third-party connectors from the AppExchange the experience within wasn’t as quite as fluid as you’d hope for.

I am a big believer in the ability for organisations to grow and adapt and the pace that the market requires, and so it’s why I am very excited to give you a behind the scenes look into Salesforce Files Connect for Box which I can only describe as a “Plug-n-Play Integration” to, it literally takes minutes to get up and running! (And it’s all #ClicksNotCode)

So what is Files Connect for Box

So first off, It’s important to understand that Salesforce Files Connect is the collective noun for ‘connecting your Salesforce org to an External Document Management system’. In the Spring ‘16 release of Salesforce, the Files Connect team released the Files Connect for Box Pilot extending the Files Connect offering. The pilot allows you to bring through your Box files (and folders! #Squeal)  into Salesforce Files, Chatter and Salesforce1 (v7.3 and above)

Where are Box Files accessible within Salesforce?

Once you have Files Connect for Box enabled your external files will show up in all the places you expect, first and foremost.

Salesforce Files Tab

Salesforce Chatter


Disclaimer: Salesforce1 External Files functionality is only supported in iOS currently but I have been told that android support is not far behind at all (Safe Harbour)

How do file level permissions work?

When you enable Files Connect within Salesforce you have two options when it comes to file sharing, Reference or Copy. Files Connect for Box uses the “Reference” option and what this basically means is that files stored in the external system i.e. Box files are not physically copied to Salesforce instead Salesforce holds metadata about the file i.e. File Type, File Name, URL etc but the file itself never leaves Box. So now you may be thinking, that’s all very well and good but, you still haven’t told us how permissions work!

Well as it turns out  understanding how External Files are stored in Salesforce is an important piece as to how file sharing is constructed because each time you navigate to Box files in Salesforce the integration checks to see what files you have access to in Box and only reflects those External Files in your salesforce environment. So this means that file sharing permissions are real time. As soon as you grant another user access to a file in Box it will show up in Salesforce as an External File.  

Pretty cool right! Now you may be thinking … “Yea but what if share my box file in a chatter group…?” The good news is that whilst users within the chatter group will see the File Reference they won’t be able to access the file in Box unless you have explicitly added them to the list of file collaborators in Box.

So at the end of the day access to Box files always remains within the control of Box. One thing you need to be aware of is currently (and this may change in the future) in order for users to access a file inside of Salesforce each user needs to be specially added to the folder where the file is housed in Box as a “collaborator” (This aspect is a limitation of the current pilot and will be removed as it goes GA later this year), at the moment simply ticking the option “Available to all within company” is not enough to grant access, you need to make sure they are named collaborators.

Is Files Connect for Box available in the Lightning Experience?

The short answer is absolutely! The slightly longer answer is that there are a couple of limitations to the Files Connect for Box Pilot which means that that Box Files can only be access via the Chatter File Picker icon, but don’t worry! Product Management over at Salesforce have told me they are absolutely focused on ensuring that users have the same experience in both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s all sorted by the time it goes GA in Summer‘16 (Safe Harbour)

How much does it cost?

Ok so this is looking pretty good right! But how much will it cost... Well, I am happy to report for cloud services such as Box, Files Connect comes part and parcel with your existing Salesforce subscription! On a side note, as you may know Files Connect can also connect to some on premise solutions such as SharePoint and if your organisation falls into that bucket the connector to Salesforce is currently priced at $7/User/Month best to talk to your Account Executive for pricing specific to your organisation.

What are the current Pilot Limitations?

So I mentioned that the Files Connect for Box has a couple of limitations which frankly is more than acceptable for functionality in pilot right, but in the interest of full disclosure here are the limitations to be aware of as it stands at the time of posting.

1. File Searching
You can not currently search for Box files

2. File Preview
File Previews are not currently available for File References

3. Lighting Files Tab
External file sources are not currently available in the Lightning Files Tab (It is however available in Salesforce Classic)

4. File Collaboration & Sharing
In order for users to collaborate on files within Salesforce each user must be a named collaborator in Box against the folder where the file is stored.
What does the future look like for Files Connect for Box

I have the inside scoop for you from the Files Connect for Box product development team on what the future may look like (Safe Harbour). So the features coming (hopefully) you way would be:

1. The ability to support both file browsing and searching in both Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience 

2. The ability to preview file references directly in Salesforce! (Very Cool!) 

3. The ability to create new documents in Box directly From Salesforce (Um...Even Cooler!!)

Bringing it all together

Well there you have it, that wraps up my review and behind the scenes look at what is coming your way with Files Connect for Box this Summer, remember you can also request access to the Pilot from your Salesforce Account Executive. If you want to learn more about Files Connect or Files Connect for Box head on over to these groups on the Salesforce Success Community!

1. Files Connect group on the success community

2. Files Connect for Box on the success community for customers that are part of the pilot