Configuration in Salesforce CRM

12 min read

(For more resources on this topic, see here.)

We will look at the mechanisms for storing data in Salesforce and at the concepts of objects and fields. The features that allow these data to be grouped and arranged within the application are then considered by looking at Apps, Tabs, Page Layouts, and Record Types. Finally, we take a look at some of the features that allow views of data to be presented and customized by looking in detail at related lists and list views.

Relationship between profile and the features that it controls

The following diagram describes the relationship that exists between the profile and the features that it controls:

The profile is used to:

  • Control access to the type of license specified for the user and any login hours or IP address restrictions that are set.
  • Control access to objects and records using the role and sharing model. If the appropriate object-level permission is not set on the user’s profile, then the user will be unable to gain access to the records of that object type in the application.

In this article, we will look at the configurable elements that are set in conjunction with the profile. These are used to control the structure and the user interface for the Salesforce CRM application.


Objects are a key element in Salesforce CRM as they provide a structure for storing data and are incorporated in the interface, allowing users to interact with the data.

Similar in nature to a database table, objects have properties such as:

  • Fields which are similar in concept to a database column
  • Records which are similar in concept to a database row
  • Relationships to other objects
  • Optional tabs which are user interface components to display the object data

Standard objects

Salesforce provides standard objects in the application when you sign up and these include Account, Contact, Opportunity, and so on. These are the tables that contain the data records in any standard tab such as Accounts, Contacts, or Opportunities.

In addition to the standard objects, you can create custom objects and custom tabs.

Custom objects

Custom objects are the tables you create to store your data. You can create a custom object to store data specific to your organization. Once you have the custom objects and have created records for these objects, you can also create reports and dashboards based on the record data in your custom object.


Fields in Salesforce are similar in concept to a database column and store the data for the object records. An object record is analogous to a row in a database table.

Standard fields

Standard fields are predefined fields that are included as standard within the Salesforce CRM application. Standard fields cannot be deleted but non-required standard fields can be removed from page layouts whenever necessary.

With standard fields, you can customize visual elements that are associated to the field such as field labels and field-level help as well certain data definitions such as picklist values, the formatting of auto-number fields (which are used as unique identifiers for the records), and setting of field history tracking. Some aspects, however, such as the field name cannot be customized and some standard fields (such as Opportunity Probability) do not allow the changing of the field label.

Custom fields

Custom fields are unique to your business needs and can not only be added and amended, but also deleted. Creating custom fields allow you to store the information that is necessary for your organization.

Both standard and custom fields can be customized to include custom help text to help users understand how to use the field:

Object relationships

Object relationships can be set on both standard and custom objects and are used to define how records in one object relates to records in another object. Accounts, for example, can have a one-to-many relationship with opportunities and these relationships are presented in the application as related lists.


An app in Salesforce is a container for all the objects, tabs, processes, and services associated with a business function.

There are standard and custom apps that are accessed using the App menu located at the top-right of the Salesforce page as shown in the following screenshot:

When users select an app from the App menu, their screen changes to present the objects associated with that app. For example, when switching from an app that contains the Campaign tab to one that does not, the Campaign tab no longer appears. This feature is applied to both standard and custom apps.

Standard apps

Salesforce provides standard apps such as Sales, Call Center, and Marketing.

Custom apps

A custom app can optionally include a custom logo.
Both standard and custom apps consist of a name, a description, and an ordered list of tabs.


A tab is a user-interface element which, when clicked, displays the record data on a page specific to that object.

Hiding and showing tabs

To customize your personal tab settings follow the path Your Name Setup | My Personal Settings | Change My Display | Customize My Tabs|. Now, choose the tabs that will display in each of your apps by moving the tab name between the Available Tabs and the Selected Tabs sections and click Save. The following shows the section of tabs for the Sales app:

To customize the tab settings of your users, follow the path Your Name Setup | Administration Setup | Manage Users | Profiles|. Now select a profile and click Edit. Scroll down to the tab settings section of the page as shown in the following screenshot:

Standard tabs

Salesforce provides tabs for each of the standard objects that are provided in the application when you sign up. For example, there are standard tabs for Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, and so on:

Visibility of the tab depends on the setting on the tab display setting for the app.

Custom tabs

You can create three different types of custom tabs: Custom Object Tabs, Web Tabs, and Visualforce Tabs.

Custom Object Tabs allow you to create, read, update, and delete the data records in your custom objects. Web Tabs display any web URL in a tab within your Salesforce application. Visualforce Tabs display custom user-interface pages created using Visualforce. Creating custom tabs:

  • The text displayed on the custom tab is set from the Plural label of the custom object which is entered when creating the custom object. If the tab text needs to be changed this can be done by changing the Plural label stored on the custom object.
  • recommends selecting the Append tab to users’ existing personal customizations checkbox. This benefits your users as they will automatically be presented with the new tab and can immediately access the corresponding functionality without having to first customize their personal settings themselves.
  • It is recommended that you do not show tabs by setting appropriate permissions so that the users in your organization cannot see any of your changes until you are ready to make them available.
  • You can create up to 25 custom tabs in Enterprise Edition and as many as you require in Unlimited Edition.

To create custom tabs for a custom object, follow the path Your Name Setup | App Setup | Create | Tabs|. Now select the appropriate tab type and/or object from the available selections as shown in the following screenshot:

(Move the mouse over the image to enlarge.)

Creating custom objects

Custom objects are database tables that allow you to store data specific to your organization in You can use custom objects to extend Salesforce functionality or to build new application functionality.

You can create up to 200 custom objects in Enterprise Edition and 2000 in Unlimited Edition.

Once you have created a custom object, you can create a custom tab, custom-related lists, reports, and dashboards for users to interact with the custom object data.

To create a custom object, follow the path Your Name Setup | App Setup | Create | Objects|. Now click New Custom Object, or click Edit to modify an existing custom object. The following screenshot shows the resulting screen:

On the Custom Object Definition Edit page, you can enter the following:

    • Label: This is the visible name that is displayed for the object within the Salesforce CRM user interface and shown on pages, views, and reports, for example.
    • Plural Label: This is the plural name specified for the object which is used within the application in places such as reports and on tabs if you create a tab for the object.
    • Gender (language dependent): This field appears if your organization-wide default language expects gender. This is used for organizations where the default language settings is for example, Spanish, French, Italian, German among many others. Your personal language preference setting does not affect whether the field appears or not. For example, if your organization’s default language is English but your personal language is French, you will not be prompted for gender when creating a custom object.
    • Starts with a vowel sound: Use of this setting depends on your organization’s default language and is a linguistic check to allow you to specify whether your label is to be preceded by “an” instead of “a”. For example, resulting in reference to the object as “an Order” instead of “a Order” as an example.
    • Object Name: A unique name used to refer to the object. Here, the Object Name field must be unique and can only contain underscores and alphanumeric characters. It must also begin with a letter, not contain spaces, not contain two consecutive underscores, and not end with an underscore.
    • Description: An optional description of the object. A meaningful description will help to explain the purpose for your custom objects when you are viewing them in a list.
    • Context-Sensitive Help Setting: Defines what information is displayed when your users click the Help for this Page context-sensitive help link from the custom object record home (overview), edit, and detail pages, as well as list views and related lists. The Help & Training link at the top of any page is not affected by this setting. It always opens the Salesforce Help & Training window.
    • Record Name: This is the name that is used in areas such page layouts, search results, key lists, and related lists as shown next.
    • Data Type: The type of field for the record name. Here the data type can be either text or auto-number. If the data type is set to be text, then when a record is created, users must enter a text value which does not need to be unique. If the data type is set to be Auto Number, it becomes a read-only field whereby new records are automatically assigned a unique number:

    • Display Format: As in the preceding example, this option only appears when the Data Type is set to Auto Number. It allows you to specify the structure and appearance of the Auto Number field. For example: {YYYY}{MM}-{000} is a display format that produces a 4-digit year, 2-digit month prefix to a number with leading zeros padded to 3 digits. Example data output would include: 201203-001; 201203-066; 201203-999; 201203-1234.
      It is worth noting that although you can specify the number to be 3 digits if the number of records created becomes over 999 the record will still be saved but the automatically incremented number becomes 1000, 1001, and so on.
    • Starting Number: As described, Auto Number fields in Salesforce CRM are automatically incremented for each new record. Here you must enter the starting number for the incremental count (which does not have to be set to start from 1).
    • Allow Reports: This setting is required if you want to include the record data from the custom object in any report or dashboard analytics.

      Such relationships can be either a lookup or a master-detail. Lookup relationships create a relationship between two records so you can associate them with each other. Master-detail relationship creates a relationship between records where the master record controls certain behaviors of the detail record such as record deletion and security.

      When the custom object has a master-detail relationship with a standard object or is a lookup object on a standard object, a new report type will appear in the standard report category. The new report type allows the user to create reports that relate the standard object to the custom object which is done by selecting the standard object for the report type category instead of the custom object.

    • Allow Activities: Allows users to include tasks and events related to the custom object records which appear as a related list on the custom object page.
    • Track Field History: Enables the tracking of data field changes on the custom object records, such as who changed the value of a field and when it was changed. Fields history tracking also stores the value of the field before and after the fields edit. This feature is useful for auditing and data quality measurement and is also available within the reporting tools.
    • Deployment Status: Indicates whether the custom object is now visible and available for use by other users. This is useful as you can easily set the status to In Development until you are happy for users to start working with the new object.
    • Add Notes & Attachments: This setting allows your users to record notes and attach files to the custom object records. When this is specified, a related list with New Note and Attach File buttons automatically appears on the custom object record page where your users can enter notes and attach documents.

The Add Notes & Attachments option is only available when you create a new object.

  • Launch the New Custom Tab Wizard: Starts the custom tab wizard after you save the custom object.

The New Custom Tab Wizard option is only available when you create a new object.

Creating custom object relationships

Considerations to be observed when creating object relationships:

  • Create the object relationships as a first step before starting to build the custom fields, page layouts, and any related list
  • The Related To entry cannot be modified after you have saved the object relationship

    Each custom object can have up to two master-detail relationship and up to 25 total relationships.

  • When planning to create a master-detail relationship on an object be aware that it can only be created before the object contains record data
  • Clicking Edit List Layout allows you to choose columns for the key views and lookups
  • The Standard Name field is required on all custom object-related lists and also on any page layouts


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here