CumulusCI helps development teams build great applications on the Salesforce platform by automating org setup, testing, and deployment.
Automation with CumulusCI#
If your product development lifecycle and release process is anything like ours at Salesforce.org, it’s complex. You’re managing multiple packages, dependencies, orgs, and release versions. Not to mention managing org metadata and all the setup operations that need to run in the right sequence, before or after a package is installed, to create a properly configured org.
For example, Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is one of Salesforce.org’s flagship open source products. NPSP is a large, complex application with many different components. It consists of six managed packages (five dependencies plus itself) with multiple dependency relationships. Using automation, all five dependent packages are deployed in the right sequence; the unpackaged record types for the Account and Opportunity objects are delivered; and the final configurations to make the customers’ experience better, such as setting up Global Actions and delivering translations, are performed. Biweekly NPSP releases are easy for new customers to install, with all the right configuration and without requiring end users to work through a lengthy setup guide.
The CumulusCI suite of tools is part of the not-so-secret sauce that makes it possible for Salesforce.org to build and release products at high volume, velocity, and quality. CumulusCI automation runs throughout the Salesforce development lifecycle, starting from feature branches through the delivery of the latest release.
The CumulusCI command-line interface,
cci, runs single-action tasks and multiple-action flows for development and testing.
MetaCI uses CumulusCI flows to build Salesforce managed packages from GitHub repositories.
MetaDeploy automates setup and configuration of customer orgs.
You can use the very same automation used internally by Salesforce.org to quickly:
Build sophisticated orgs with dependencies automatically installed.
Load and retrieve sample datasets to make your orgs feel like a production environment.
Apply transformations to existing metadata to tailor orgs to your specific requirements.
Run builds in continuous integration systems.
Create end-to-end browser tests and set up automation using Robot Framework.
The automation defined using CumulusCI is portable. It’s stored in a version control repository and can be run from your local command line, from a continuous integration system, or from a customer-facing installer. CumulusCI can run automation on scratch orgs created using the Salesforce CLI, or on persistent orgs like sandboxes, production orgs, and Developer Edition orgs.
Finally, by way of introduction, CumulusCI is more than just a set of tools. It represents our holistic approach to product development. Rather than focusing on just the Org Development Model or the Package Development Model, Salesforce.org has implemented its own Product Delivery Model using CumulusCI.
The Product Delivery Model#
The Product Delivery Model focuses on the customer experience, not on the technical artifacts you’re delivering. When building a product, there are detailed technical considerations for whether an individual component is best distributed within a package, or as additional unpackaged metadata, or as setup automation that runs before or after a package is installed. It’s not uncommon for managed packages that don’t use the Product Delivery Model to require customers to perform manual configuration steps that can take hours, or even days, to complete. The Product Delivery Model lets teams develop configurations directly into automated workflows, making it possible to deliver a first-class, fully configured product to the customer.
CumulusCI automation, which makes it easy to create products that span multiple package repositories and include complex setup operations, best implements the Product Delivery Model, along with MetaDeploy and other applications in the CumulusCI suite.
Anyone Can Use CumulusCI#
Salesforce.org uses CumulusCI to develop products for our nonprofit and education constituents — both public, open source products such as NPSP and commercial managed package products developed in private GitHub repositories. But anyone developing on the Salesforce platform can use CumulusCI. It supports both open source and private development, and building managed package products or org implementations.
Automation defined using CumulusCI can support all roles on a project.
Developers can create new development environments for different feature branches.
Quality engineers can create test environments from feature branches and managed package installs.
Documentation teams can create environments to interact with new features and retrieve screenshots.
Product managers can create environments to interact with new features and provide feedback on future work.
Release engineers can create beta and final releases and push them to subscriber orgs.
Partners can create their own projects on top of your package.
Customers can install the product and get set up using the same automation steps used during development and QA.
Where Does CumulusCI Fit in the Toolchain?#
Developers often ask whether CumulusCI competes with or replaces Salesforce DX, the Salesforce command line interface (CLI) for development, testing, and continuous integration. It doesn’t. Like Salesforce DX, CumulusCI is designed to maintain the source of truth for a project in a version-controlled repository, and to make it as easy as possible to set up an org from scratch. CumulusCI uses the Salesforce CLI to perform operations such as creating scratch orgs, and is an alternative to bash scripts for running sequences of Salesforce CLI commands.
CumulusCI builds on top of the commands provided by the Salesforce CLI, and helps to manage and orchestrate them into a simple, straightforward user experience. CumulusCI implements a complete development, test, and release process that comes with a standard library of functionality, while the Salesforce CLI is a lower-level toolbelt that drives particular workflows within the overall process.
For non-developers, knowing Salesforce DX isn’t a requirement for using CumulusCI. Neither is knowing Python, the language CumulusCI is written in (in the same way that most Salesforce DX users don’t need to know Node.js). If you’re going to get fancy with CumulusCI customizations, only then does Python come in handy.
Why Is It Called CumulusCI?#
Before there was the toolset known today as CumulusCI, there was a product that would go on to become Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). This product had the code name Cumulus. Early on, continuous integration (CI) tools were created for the Cumulus product. This tooling expanded in scope and scale to eventually become CumulusCI. Even though it’s used for much more than CI, and for many more products than NPSP, the name has stuck.
Learn More Through Demos#
Love demos? These no-audio screencasts show how to use CumulusCI from a command line.
Initialize a fresh CumulusCI project.
Retrieve metadata from a Salesforce org and save it in GitHub.
Manage sample or test data.
Customize flows and use CumulusCI for QA.
For a narrated demo, see Jason Lantz’s PyCon 2020 presentation (00:36 through 00:54).