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Get Started with Event Monitoring

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Name several event types supported by event monitoring.
  • Define event log files.
  • State at least three use cases for event monitoring.
  • Describe the API-first approach to development.

What Is Event Monitoring?

Everyone knows that being a detective is one of the coolest jobs you can have. Well, hold on to your magnifying glass because your job as a Salesforce administrator is about to get a whole lot cooler. With event monitoring, you can be the investigator your organization always needed.

Event monitoring is one of many tools that Salesforce provides to help keep your data secure. It lets you see the granular details of user activity in your organization. We refer to these user activities as events. You can view information about individual events or track trends in events to swiftly identify abnormal behavior and safeguard your company’s data.

So what are some of the events that you can track? Event monitoring provides tracking for lots of types of events, including:
  • Logins
  • Logouts
  • URI (web clicks in Salesforce Classic)
  • Lightning (web clicks, performance, and errors in Lightning Experience and the Salesforce mobile app)
  • Visualforce page loads
  • API calls
  • Apex executions
  • Report exports
All these events are stored in event log files. An event log file is generated when an event occurs in your organization and is available to view and download after 24 hours. The event types you can access and how long the files remain available depends on your edition.
  • Developer Edition (DE) organizations have free access to all log types with one-day data retention.
  • Enterprise, Unlimited, and Performance Edition organizations have free access to the insecure external assets, login, and logout event log files with one-day data retention. For an extra cost, you can access all log file types with 30-day data retention.

So how can you use event log files to become an all-knowing Salesforce super-sleuth? Let’s take login activity as an example. We’ll talk about accessing, downloading, and visualizing event log files later on. For now, assume that we did these steps and produced this graph of login activity.

Chart of the organization's login activity.

You can see that an unusually high number of logins to the organization occurred between May 4 and May 5. But how do you figure out exactly what happened during that time period? Luckily, event monitoring provides several ways for you to dig into this data. In this case, you might want to break down the number of logins by user.

Chart of the organization's login activity and login activity by user.

Adam Admin logged in 103 times! Something is definitely fishy. You can continue to break this data down to see things like how many distinct IP addresses a user logged in from. This information helps you pinpoint whether an outside party compromised a user’s account or whether a user is up to no good.

You’re probably beginning to see the power of event monitoring, but let’s consider some other uses.
  • Monitor data loss—Imagine that a sales representative leaves your company and joins a major competitor. Later, you find out that your organization is losing deal after deal to this other company. You suspect that your former employee downloaded a report containing leads and shared it with the competition. If you’d been using event monitoring, you could have caught this bad behavior before it cost your company sales.
  • Increase adoption—Event monitoring isn’t just for catching your users’ bad behavior. It can also alert you to parts of your organization that aren’t performing well. For example, you just rolled out a new Visualforce page in your organization that combines accounts and contacts and allows end users to add custom fields. Without any metrics, it’s difficult to tell how users are interacting with this page—if at all. Event monitoring helps you figure out which parts of your organization need increased adoption efforts and even helps you identify areas that need redevelopment.
  • Optimize performance—Sometimes it’s hard to determine the cause of slow page performance in your organization. Imagine that your company has an office in San Francisco and one in London. The users in London tell you that their reports are running slowly or even timing out. You can use event monitoring to determine whether the cause is related to a network issue in London or with the way your app is configured.

These cases are just a few ways that you can use event monitoring to keep your organization secure and running smoothly. Check out all the event types to discover what else you can do.

A Quick Note About the API

If you’re an administrator, working with the API can be daunting. We won’t go over all the nitty-gritty details in this module, but let’s take a minute to review some basics. API stands for Application Programming Interface. You can think of it as a bridge between an application (in our case, Salesforce) and the database. Two important terms to remember when working with the API are:
  • Objects—Almost every object in the user interface is also an object in the API (for example, Account or Case). The API also has several objects that you can’t use in the user interface.
  • Fields—The fields you’re used to seeing in the user interface are also fields in the API (for example, the Account Name field in the user interface becomes the Name field in the API).

Sometimes, the user interface doesn’t provide you with every possible access point to your data. That’s why the API is so important. Salesforce encourages what’s called an API first approach to development. API first means that, before you develop an application’s user experience, you want to pay attention to the underlying API. The API lets you use your data in ways that aren’t possible in the user interface. Considering the API in the initial planning stages lets you develop a more robust application.

Event monitoring is an API-only feature. It isn’t anywhere in the Setup area. Instead, each organization’s event log files are stored in an API object called EventLogFile. Salesforce provides an API tool called Workbench that lets you access your EventLogFile objects. If all this information sounds a little confusing, don’t worry. We’ll go through everything step-by-step during this module.