Best Practices for Writing Validation Rules in Salesforce: Tips for Maintaining Data Integrity

Validation rules in Salesforce are an essential component of maintaining data integrity within the system. These rules ensure that the data entered into Salesforce meets specific criteria, such as being in the correct format or within a certain range. In this blog post, we will discuss the best practices for writing validation rules in Salesforce.

① Keep it Simple

One of the most important best practices for writing validation rules is to keep them simple. Complex validation rules can be difficult to understand and can create confusion for users. Additionally, complex validation rules can slow down the system and increase the likelihood of errors.

② Use Clear and Concise Error Messages

When a validation rule is triggered, it is important to provide clear and concise error messages that explain why the rule was triggered and how the user can correct the issue. This can help prevent confusion and frustration for users, and make it easier for them to fix the problem.

③ Use the Right Criteria

When writing validation rules, it is important to use the right criteria. For example, if you are checking for a specific format, such as a phone number or email address, it is important to use the appropriate regular expression. Additionally, if you are checking for a specific range, such as a number between 1 and 100, it is important to use the appropriate comparison operators.

④ Use Conditional Logic

Validation rules can also be written using conditional logic. This allows you to create rules that are only triggered under specific circumstances, such as when a certain field is populated or when a certain condition is met. This can help keep your validation rules simple and easy to understand.

⑤ Use the “OR” function judiciously

The “OR” function can be useful for creating validation rules that trigger when one of several conditions is met. However, it should be used judiciously as it can increase the complexity of the rule and make it more difficult to understand.

Here is an example of how to use the “OR” function judiciously in a validation rule:

Let’s say you want to create a validation rule that checks if the “Phone” or “Email” field is populated. You could create the following validation rule:

IF(
    OR(
        ISBLANK(Phone),
        ISBLANK(Email)
    ),
    //Phone or Email must be populated
    TRUE,
    FALSE
)

In this example, the validation rule is checking if either the “Phone” field or the “Email” field is blank. If either field is blank, the validation rule will trigger and display an error message.

This is a simple example where the use of the “OR” function makes sense and is easy to understand, but if you use it in a complex validation rule, it could make the rule harder to understand and harder to maintain.

For example, if you want to validate that at least one of the fields “Phone” or “Email” or “Alternate Email” should be filled out, the rule could be like this:

IF(
    OR(
        ISBLANK(Phone),
        ISBLANK(Email),
        ISBLANK(Alternate_Email__c)
    ),
    //Phone or Email or Alternate Email must be populated
    TRUE,
    FALSE
)

This rule is still easy to understand, but if you add more fields, or more conditions to the rule it will become harder to understand and maintain.

So, when using the “OR” function, make sure to keep it simple, or if it’s a complex validation rule, add comments to explain the logic behind it.

⑥ Use the “ISCHANGED” function

The “ISCHANGED” function can be used to create validation rules that only trigger when a specific field is changed. This can be useful for ensuring that a field is properly populated or for triggering an action when a field is changed.

Here is an example of how to use the “ISCHANGED” function in a validation rule:

Let’s say you have a custom field called “Address Verified” on the “Account” object. You want to create a validation rule that checks if the “Billing Address” field has been changed and if it has, then the “Address Verified” field must be checked.

You could create the following validation rule:

IF(
    AND(
        ISCHANGED(Billing_Address__c),
        NOT(Address_Verified__c)
    ),
    //Address Verified must be checked if Billing Address is changed
    TRUE,
    FALSE
)

⑦ Add comments to validation rules

It is a best practice that can help make the rules easier to understand and maintain. Comments can be added to the formula by using the double forward-slash (//) before the comment text.

IF(
AND(
ISBLANK(Phone),
ISBLANK(Email)
),
//Both Phone and Email fields are empty
TRUE,
FALSE
)

By adding comments, you can provide additional information about the rule and its purpose, making it easier for other developers or administrators to understand the rule and make any necessary changes. Additionally, comments can also be used to provide information about any updates or changes that have been made to the rule.

It’s also a good practice to add comments to any complex or conditional logic, that way it will be easier to understand the rule and maintain it in the future.

Additionally, for more complex validation rules, it’s a good practice to add comments to the different sections of the formula to explain the purpose of each section and how it contributes to the overall rule.

⑧ Avoid hard-coding values

It is best practice to avoid hard-coding values in validation rules, as it makes the rule less flexible and harder to maintain. Instead, use Salesforce fields or custom settings to store the values. This way, if the value needs to be changed, it can be done in one place, rather than having to update the rule in multiple places.

Here is an example of how to avoid hard-coding values in a validation rule:

Instead of hard-coding a value in the validation rule formula, you can create a custom setting with a specific value.

For example, you want to create a validation rule that checks if the “Discount” field is greater than 10%. Instead of hard-coding the value of 10% in the validation rule formula, you can create a custom setting called “Discount Limit” and set the value to 10.

IF(
    Discount > $Setup.Discount_Limit__c,
    //Discount cannot be greater than Discount Limit
    TRUE,
    FALSE
)

In this example, the validation rule is checking if the “Discount” field is greater than the value stored in the custom setting “Discount Limit”. This way, if the value of the limit needs to be changed, it can be done in one place, rather than having to update the rule in multiple places.

This approach makes the validation rule more flexible and easier to maintain, as the value can be easily updated in one place and it will be automatically updated in all the validation rules that are using it.

⑨ Document your validation rules

It’s important to document your validation rules, especially for complex ones. This can help other developers or administrators understand the rule and make any necessary changes. This documentation can be stored in a shared location such as a Google doc, Excel, or Salesforce note.

①⓪ Use Deactivation

It’s possible to deactivate validation rules when needed, for example for bulk data uploads or for testing purposes. This way you can avoid errors and speed up the process of data entry.

Conclusion

Validation rules in Salesforce are an important tool for maintaining data integrity within the system. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your validation rules are simple, clear, and effective. Remember to test your rules before implementing them, use the right criteria, use conditional logic and deactivate them when needed.

About the blog

SFDCLessons is a blog where you can find various Salesforce tutorials and tips that we have written to help beginners and experienced developers alike. we also share my experience and knowledge on Salesforce best practices, troubleshooting, and optimization. Don’t forget to follow us on:

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