To tab or not to tab. That is the question

Feb 29 / Kimberly Barnes

Aside from totally mangling Hamlet's line from his soliloquy, what I am referring to is the question SF admins face when creating a custom object --- to create or not to create a tab for the object.

What’s the big deal, I hear you asking? In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t really a big deal. Creating a tab for a custom object or not doing that will not affect world peace, climate change or even your job performance. It will, however, affect the experience of your users when they want to see the information on the custom object.

When deciding if I need to create a tab or not, the first thing to think about or ask yourself is what do I get out of creating a tab on a custom object? Well, from my experience, what you get out of it is better control of who has access and improved user experience related to the new custom object. Having a tab defined for a custom object allows users to easily access the information in that custom object using list views.

If you have a custom object that doesn't have a tab, the only way to get to that data is either through a report or maybe doing a data export or something like that. You can't create a list view because you don't have a tab to go to. You also can't connect it into a Salesforce app providing a path to the new object’s data.

So why would you ever NOT have a tab for a custom object? Well, since tabs give your users access to the data directly through list views, does it make sense to access that information out of context (i.e. not through related records).

Example: Let's say I have an order and an order has order line items. And maybe in my situation, I don't want my users to go look at an order line item all by its lonesome without first opening the order. And then looking at the line items associated with that order. In that situation. I don't want a tab created for my order line item, object. 

Now I've been doing work in Salesforce for over 12 years at this point. And I would say nine times out of 10 I want a tab on an object. Even if I want to restrict who can access that tab. I can do that through profiles or permission sets with no problem. But if I don't have a tab, I can't control the access in that manner. And then I'm forcing my users to get to that data either through a related custom object or using a report.

I would suggest to always create a tab for your custom objects, and then just decide whether they're visible or not based on what you want your users to see and how you want them to access the data. But by creating custom tab, as part of creating that custom object, you have the tab available to use when you need it

My answer to the question to tab or not to tab, therefore, is to tab.

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