Reviewing Skipped Items
The London release introduces a new tool for debugging upgrades and we will look at an overlooked but time-saving Jakarta release item as well.
As a customer and partner, I have done quite a few ServiceNow upgrades. Helping others in the community with their upgrades has been a long-running theme. There are some newer platform features which I think are worth sharing with the community. There are several reference documents for the full upgrade process here.
Processing the skipped record list
One of the most important steps of your upgrade is frequently overlooked. After each upgrade, be it a family (Kingston to London) or patch (London patch 1 to patch 3), the skipped record list needs to be reviewed. Additionally any applications like from the store that are installed and upgraded also need to be reviewed as well.
The reason for the skip list is every record in the platform that is edited from it’s out of box state becomes customized. These customizations are now owned by your ServiceNow instance and won’t be touched in an upgrade without your approval. When the upgrade is performed each of these items is now marked Skipped and needs reviewing. It is important to review and properly resolve these skipped items so you maintain the security and features of your instance. New features might not work properly if you have customized the records which have been changed and rely on the changes to that record to function.
Upgrade Engine Improvements (Less skipped items to review)
Introduced in the Jakarta release was a significant quality of life improvement for reviewing the skipped items . The Customizations Unchanged related list is a new concept which allows you to separate records which have been customized but not affected by the upgrade from those that are. Let’s explain that in more detail.
Developer Jean edits Business Rules A & B in Jakarta Patch 4 instance is upgraded to Jakarta Patch 6 - which has a fix for a bug in Business Rule B and does not change Business rule A. Jean goes to the upgrade history to review the skipped list and sees
Jean only needs to review Business Rule: B Jean does not need to review Business rule: A because it has not changed by ServiceNow from Patch 4 to Patch 6
This helps Jean focus on the items that actually need her attention and should be reviewed for merging or reverting to out of the box.
Note: this will only work on the 2nd and later upgrades you have that are Jakarta or Higher. Upgrading from Helsinki Patch 8 to London will not take advantage of this feature. The very next upgrade following that will.
New in London! The upgrade debugger has been added in London to aid developers quickly track down post upgrade issues. This feature works like the existing debug items (screenshot below) and provides information to track down why a function/interaction has failed in your testing. Automated Testing (ATF) will help reveal the scenarios that might need to be reviewed for root cause.
Let’s walk through what this looks like with Jean’s co-worker Paul.
Paul is reviewing the failed tests. He navigates to System Diagnostics->Session Debug->Debug Upgrade and enables. Then impersonates the test user. Paul replicates the automated test to the point of failure. Here will be quite a bit of information that is relevant to helping track down the issue. These are contextually the records that ran during that transaction.
Paul is going to first check the skipped records to see if they might have missed properly reviewing and resolving skipped items.
There are none so that can’t be the culprit. This allows Paul to move on to the customizations modified.
So you can see how narrowing down the records that have been run for the current transaction and have been affected by the upgrade really narrows the scope from hundreds of culprits down to just a handful. This helps Paul get his fix in place so he can rerun the previously failed tests (hopefully using ATF) and get back to developing.
Using these two upgrade features together along with the reference documents below will allow you to have a more successful and stress-free upgrade for you and your users!
Additional Upgrade Resources
Docs: Upgrade your instance
Docs: Upgrade Checklist
Customer Success: Customer Success for upgrades