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For a growing number of companies, Salesforce admins and developers are becoming key players in supporting business operations and delivering services to customers. 60% of Salesforce developers say they use the platform to build business-critical apps. Two-thirds use it to build customer-facing apps. 

Business-critical and customer-facing apps require a methodical approach to release management, where changes are deployed via a sandbox approach. Many developers prefer the Ant Migration Tool to manage Salesforce deployments because it allows for greater flexibility and control. Here’s an overview of the of the benefits and limitations of this tool, along with tips on how to use additional third party platforms to make Salesforce deployment easier.

What Is the Ant Migration Tool?

The Ant Migration Tool is a Java/Ant-based command-line utility for moving metadata (such as objects, reports, Apex classes, Visualforce pages, and Aura components) between a local directory and a Salesforce org. The Ant Migration Tool works with metadata API so you can interact with Salesforce by retrieving and deploying Apex and metadata. It allows developers to retrieve metadata in local XML files and create their own tools for managing organization and application metadata. 

Benefits and Limitations of the Ant Migration Tool

The Ant Migration Tool isn’t the only way to make changes in Salesforce, but it is a preferred method for many. Alternative options include manually reconfiguring the org, using change sets, or working with third-party DevOps tools. Manually reconfiguring the entire org is impractical and resource-intensive. Change sets are limited and can only be used for related orgs (such as two sandboxes created in the same org). Depending on your budget and resources, DevOps tools may not be the best option either. 

The Ant Migration Tool, also known as the Force.com migration tool, is free to use, more flexible than change sets, and much more practical than manual reconfiguration. It’s an ideal solution for Salesforce teams that want to improve efficiency and automate deployments:

  • Execute the stages of development (building, testing, and staging) efficiently.
  • Schedule batch deployments during off-peak hours.
  • Simplify repeatable deployments.
  • Provide a familiar approach for developers that prefer a scripted environment.

Ant Migration Tool Pros 

One of the main benefits of the Ant Migration Tool is the ability to synchronize different Salesforce orgs. In the event that two people are working on separate projects in different environments, it can be hard to know whether their changes will be compatible with one another. The Ant Migration Tool allows you to keep the two environments in sync. With the Ant Migration Tool you can use continuous integration to compare work and spot incompatibilities throughout the development process.

Other benefits of the Ant Migration Tool include:

  • Developers can have full control and visibility into the changes that are being deployed. 
  • It’s possible to automate and control the exact timing of rollouts. 
  • The Ant Migration Tool can be integrated with source control tools, so developers can reduce risk and communication breakdowns. 

Anti Migration Tool Cons

The Ant Migration tool isn’t the best option for every circumstance, or for every team. 

  • It doesn’t support all metadata types, and some metadata types are difficult to deploy. 
  • Everyone doesn’t know their way around the command-line utility. Deploying changes with this approach may not be feasible or ideal for everyone on your team. 
  • Setting up and maintaining the Salesforce migration tool can be resource-intensive. If you have a small team, it may be unsustainable.

Ant Migration Tool FAQs

How do you use the ant migration tool?

Developers interact with the Ant Migration Tool via the command line tool on their computer. Developers must have Java and Ant installed to download the Ant Migration Tool. Once installed, developers can move metadata from one Salesforce environment to another.

How do I deploy code using the Ant Migration Tool in Salesforce?

To deploy code with the Ant Migration Tool, use the command prompt to retrieve the source code from one environment and save it locally. Then, use the command deployCode to deploy the code to the target environment. It’s possible to deploy metadata and Apex at the same time using the Ant Migration Tool, though Salesforce advises using separate targets so you can test your code. 

How do I migrate metadata from one Salesforce to another?

To migrate metadata from one Salesforce org to another, you can use the Ant Migration tool, VS Code editor, Salesforce DX, or third party tools like Workbench. 

 

How third party tech can make deployments easier

With Salesforce becoming such an important platform for business-critical and customer-facing operations, it’s important to make it as easy for Salesforce teams to manage risk. Plus, it’s possible for non-developers, such as revenue operations teams, to make changes in Salesforce. The Ant Migration Tool may not be the best solution for them to use. 

Third party platforms like Sonar help everyone making changes to your Salesforce org work collaboratively and reduce risk. Sonar allows you to see the impact of changes before you make them so you can prevent process breakdowns and errors. It bridges the gap between functions so all stakeholders can have a single source of truth on changes made to the org. 

1. Make change without surprises

Blueprint shows how fields, automations, and dependencies connect with one another. Visualize how a change will affect Salesforce and your tech stack as a whole before you make it. 

2. Hone in on problem areas

Potential Issues highlights potential errors with your validation rules. Before pushing changes live, you can see which issues it may cause and the systems that are affected.

3. Prioritize and assign tasks

Change Timelines allows you to quickly identify when and where changes are being made.  This allows for additional  visibility into changes made across teams, whether they happened yesterday or months ago, with Change Timelines

Conclusion: Reduce the risk of making changes in Salesforce

The demands on your Salesforce org will only increase over time. To ensure that internal and external customers have a seamless, reliable experience, you need to ensure that everyone working on your Salesforce instance—from developers to admins—is marching to the beat of the same drum. The Ant Migration Tool can help, but it won’t be suitable for every situation.

Sonar helps you reduce deployment risk by improving collaboration and visibility. We make it possible to plan wisely and prevent errors, so you can keep critical processes running smoothly. Try it for free here to see how.