Understanding Salesforce ID’s

Salesforce IDs are a fundamental concept in Salesforce development, serving as unique identifiers for records in the Salesforce database. Understanding their structure, usage, and best practices is crucial for anyone new to Salesforce development. Here’s a detailed tutorial:

Understanding Salesforce IDs

  1. Basic Structure:
    • Salesforce IDs are alphanumeric strings.
    • They come in two formats: 15-character case-sensitive format and 18-character case-insensitive format.
    • The first 15 characters are identical in both formats; the last three characters in the 18-character ID are a case-insensitive representation of the first 15.
  2. Case Sensitivity:
    • The 15-character ID is case-sensitive, meaning ‘a’ and ‘A’ are considered different.
    • The 18-character ID adds a suffix to make it case-insensitive, suitable for systems that do not distinguish case.
  3. Composition:
    • The ID is not random; it contains information about the record, such as the object type.

Patterns and Best Practices

  1. Using 18-character IDs:
    • Always use 18-character IDs when integrating Salesforce with external systems to avoid case sensitivity issues.
  2. Referential Integrity:
    • Maintain referential integrity by correctly linking record IDs in relationships (like lookup or master-detail fields).
  3. Record Type Identification:
    • The first three characters of an ID can often be used to identify the object type (e.g., ‘001’ for Account, ‘003’ for Contact).
  4. API Usage:
    • When using APIs, ensure the correct ID format is used. Most APIs handle both formats, but it’s good to confirm.
  5. Data Migration:
    • Be cautious during data import or migration. Ensure that the correct ID is mapped to avoid data integrity issues.

Common Gotchas

  1. Case Sensitivity in Formulas:
    • In formula fields, the 15-character ID is used. Be cautious when performing string operations.
  2. ID Truncation:
    • Avoid truncating IDs. This can lead to loss of uniqueness and data corruption.
  3. User Interface vs. API:
    • Salesforce UI displays the 15-character ID, but the API often requires the 18-character format.
  4. Hardcoding IDs:
    • Avoid hardcoding IDs in code, as they can change between different environments (like sandbox and production).

Additional Tips

  • Regular Expressions: You can use regular expressions in Apex to validate or manipulate IDs.
  • Conversion: Apex provides methods to convert between 15-character and 18-character IDs.
  • Data Export: Be mindful of the ID format when exporting data for reports or analysis.


Salesforce IDs are more than just unique identifiers; they carry information and structure that, when understood and used correctly, can significantly enhance the efficiency and reliability of Salesforce development practices. Always ensure the correct use of IDs, especially in integration scenarios, to maintain data integrity and system compatibility.

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