Samantha Hops

Samantha Hops

Sam is a digital marketing enthusiast, SEO guru, and newfound lover of all things Salesforce.

Salesforce DX CLI, or Command Line Interface, is a potent tool in the arsenal of Salesforce developers, streamlining and enhancing the development experience. It furnishes a unified, scriptable interface that allows developers to harness the full power of Salesforce’s feature-rich platform directly from the command line.

Whether you’re a new developer embarking on your Salesforce journey or an experienced pro seeking to refine your skills, this article will guide you through essential Salesforce DX CLI commands to optimize your workflow and master the art of Salesforce development.

Understanding Salesforce DX CLI

Salesforce Developer Experience (DX)CLI (Command Line Interface) is a comprehensive and indispensable tool that unifies the development and management of Salesforce orgs under a single, scriptable interface. Its capabilities go far beyond that of a standard command-line interface.

Let’s delve into the Salesforce DX CLI.

The Salesforce DX CLI essentially serves as a conduit between developers and the Salesforce platform. It employs a collection of commands that developers use to create, convert, and manage Salesforce applications. This interface allows developers to interact with Salesforce directly from their terminal, eliminating the need to navigate through the web interface for a vast array of tasks.

Salesforce DX CLI offers a multitude of benefits for Salesforce developers. Here are some notable ones:

    • Streamlined Development Process: Salesforce DX CLI provides a set of commands that automate common tasks, thereby streamlining the development process and improving efficiency.
    • Ease of Org Management: It allows for easy creation, deletion, and management of scratch orgs, sandboxes, and other Salesforce orgs, simplifying the entire lifecycle management process.
    • Metadata and Data Manipulation: Developers can easily deploy, retrieve, convert, and manipulate metadata. They can also execute SOQL queries, manipulate data records, and perform bulk data imports or exports.
    • Test Execution: Salesforce DX CLI enables developers to execute Apex tests and view detailed results, including code coverage.
    • Scripting and Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): CLI commands can be used within scripts to automate workflows, making it a vital tool for CI/CD.
    • Compatibility: Salesforce DX CLI is platform-independent, meaning it can be used on different operating systems such as Windows, Mac, or Linux.
    • Plugin Support: It supports plug-ins, allowing developers to extend its functionality according to their needs and increase developer productivity.
    • Easy Integration with Version Control Systems: Salesforce DX CLI helps in maintaining a source-driven development model, facilitating easy integration with version control systems like Git.

Salesforce DX CLI is pivotal in optimizing the development process, providing the power to create and manage scratch orgs, synchronize source code, run tests, and even automate deployments.

Automation is one of the key features of the CLI, enabling developers to establish automated processes for repetitive tasks, freeing up valuable time, and reducing the scope for errors.

As Salesforce developers, harnessing the CLI’s power can increase efficiency and streamline complex processes and development tasks. By learning to master the Salesforce DX CLI, you can take control of your Salesforce orgs, automate tasks, and elevate your productivity to new heights.

Getting Started with Salesforce DX CLI

Setting up Salesforce DX CLI is a straightforward process that will set the stage for a streamlined Salesforce development experience. Here’s how you can get started:

Step 1: Install Salesforce DX CLI

The Salesforce CLI is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Depending on your operating system, you can download the appropriate installer from the Salesforce CLI Setup Guide.

    • Windows users: You can download the installer directly from the link above and follow the prompts in the installation wizard.
    • MacOS users: You can install the Salesforce CLI using the installers from the link above or use Homebrew for the installation (brew install sfdx-cli).
    • Linux users: Use the installers from the link above, or you can use npm for the installation (npm install sfdx-cli -g).

Step 2: Verify the Installation

To verify that the Salesforce DX CLI has been installed correctly, you can open a command prompt or a terminal window and type in the following command:

            sfdx –version

If the installation was successful, the version number of the Salesforce DX CLI you installed should be displayed.

Setting Up Salesforce DX for the First Time

Now that you have installed Salesforce DX CLI, you need to link it to your Salesforce environment.

    • Authenticate your Dev Hub: A Dev Hub is the main Salesforce org that you will use for Salesforce DX. To authenticate, use the following command:

                                   sfdx auth:web:login -d -a MyDevHub

             Replace MyDevHub with a name that makes sense for your org.

    • Create a Scratch Org: Scratch Orgs are temporary Salesforce orgs where you can perform development and testing. To create one, use:

                                   sfdx force:org:create -s -f config/project-scratch-def.json -a MyScratchOrg

              Replace MyScratchOrg with a name suitable for your Scratch Org.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully installed and set up Salesforce DX CLI for the first time.

Essential Salesforce DX CLI Commands

Having installed Salesforce DX CLI and authenticated your Dev Hub, let’s examine some essential commands that you, as a Salesforce developer, will find particularly useful.

sfdx force:org:create

This command is used to create a new scratch org from a configuration file. For instance:

sfdx force:org:create -s -f config/project-scratch-def.json -a NewScratchOrg

This command creates a new scratch org with the configuration specified in project-scratch-def.json and sets it as the default username for your project. NewScratchOrg is the alias you’re assigning for easy reference.

sfdx force:org:list

This command lists all the authenticated orgs, both scratch orgs and non-scratch orgs.

sfdx force:org:list

It’s an excellent way to keep track of all the orgs you have access to and their expiration dates (in case of scratch orgs).

sfdx force:auth:web:login

This command is used to authenticate a Salesforce org.

sfdx force:auth:web:login -a MyDevHub

In this example, MyDevHub is the alias you’re assigning to the authenticated org.

sfdx force:source:push

This command is used to push source code from your local project to a scratch org.

sfdx force:source:push

This is a must-use command after making any changes in your source code to make sure they’re reflected in your scratch org.

sfdx force:source:pull

This command is used to pull changes from the scratch org to your local project.

sfdx force:source:pull

Use this command whenever you make changes directly in the scratch org and want them reflected in your local source code.

6 Tips for Using These Commands Effectively

When using Salesforce DX CLI, a few expert tips can help you optimize your development process and harness the full potential of the command line interface:

  1. Utilize Command Aliases: Always create memorable aliases for your orgs during the creation or authentication process using the -a option. This allows for easier referencing of your orgs in future commands.
  2. Make Use of the Help Flag: When in doubt, use the -h or –help flag to display a help page with information about a command, its syntax, and the options it accepts.
  3. Regularly Monitor Your Orgs: Keep track of the status of your orgs using sfdx force:org:list. This allows you to effectively manage your scratch orgs’ lifecycles.
  4. Embrace Command Autocompletion: Speed up your development process by installing the command auto-completion feature: sfdx plugins:install autocomplete.
  5. Leverage Scripting: Simplify repetitive tasks by wrapping sequences of commands into shell scripts. This can significantly automate your tasks and increase productivity.
  6. Check for Updates Regularly: Stay up-to-date with the latest features and bug fixes by regularly checking for updates: sfdx update.

Advanced Commands for Experienced Developers

For seasoned Salesforce developers looking to tackle more complex tasks and automate their workflows, Salesforce DX CLI offers a set of advanced commands. Let’s dive into some of these:

sfdx force:mdapi:deploy

This command is used to deploy metadata to an org from a .zip file or a directory. It’s particularly useful for moving metadata between orgs or migrating metadata to a DX format. Here’s an example:

sfdx force:mdapi:deploy -d path/to/metadata -u TargetOrgAlias

This command deploys metadata from the specified directory to the target org represented by TargetOrgAlias.

sfdx force:mdapi:convert

This command converts metadata from the Metadata API format into a format compatible with Salesforce DX. For instance:

sfdx force:mdapi:convert -r path/to/metadata

This command converts the metadata in the specified directory and creates a new directory, force-app, in your project to store the converted source.

sfdx force:apex:test:run

This command is used to run Apex tests in your Salesforce org.

sfdx force:apex:test:run -u MyDevHub -r human -c -w 10

This command runs all tests in the MyDevHub org and waits up to 10 minutes for the tests to complete. The -r human option outputs the results in an easy-to-read format, and -c gives you code coverage results.

sfdx force:data:soql:query

This command is used to execute a SOQL query against your Salesforce org.

sfdx force:data:soql:query -q “SELECT Name, Email FROM Contact” -u MyDevHub

This command runs the specified SOQL query in the MyDevHub org and displays the results.

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Salesforce DX CLI

Like any software tool, Salesforce DX CLI can present some common issues or errors. Here’s a table of a few such issues, their likely causes, and suggested solutions:


Likely Cause

Suggested Solution

ERROR running force:org:create: You do not have access to the [scratch org feature]

You’re not connected to a Dev Hub, or your Dev Hub does not have Dev Hub capabilities enabled.

Connect to a Dev Hub using sfdx force:auth:web:login, and ensure that the Dev Hub capabilities are enabled. If you are unsure how to enable this, refer to the Salesforce documentation.

ERROR running force:source:push: No org configuration found for name [MyScratchOrg]

The specified Scratch Org does not exist, or your current session has expired.

Verify the Scratch Org name or ID. Use sfdx force:org:list to see a list of all authenticated orgs. If the org exists but your session has expired, you can reauthenticate using sfdx force:auth:web:login.

ERROR running force:source:pull: Source was not pulled because the default scratch org is not set

The default Scratch Org is not set.

Set the default Scratch Org using the -s flag when creating the org: sfdx force:org:create -s -f config/project-scratch-def.json -a MyScratchOrg

sfdx force:data:soql:query ERROR: Unable to authenticate to the Dev Hub Org. Please check your default Dev Hub username

The default Dev Hub username is not set, or your current session has expired.

Ensure the default Dev Hub is set during authentication by using -d flag: sfdx force:auth:web:login -d -a MyDevHub. If the session has expired, reauthenticate.

Error: EACCES: permission denied, access ‘/usr/local/lib/node_modules/sfdx-cli’

You do not have the necessary permissions to install or update the Salesforce DX CLI.

Try using a version manager like nvm for Node.js, or change the permissions for the directory in question.

For further assistance or more complex issues, the Salesforce Developer forums and Stack Exchange are valuable resources. Additionally, Salesforce DX CLI’s -h or –help flags can often provide insights into resolving command-specific issues.


Mastering Salesforce DX CLI is a critical part of efficient Salesforce development. With the ability to create and manage orgs, automate tasks, and streamline complex workflows, the Salesforce DX CLI is indeed a powerful tool for any Salesforce developer’s toolkit.

However, as with any skill, proficiency comes with practice. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced developer diving into advanced commands, the key to unlocking the full potential of Salesforce DX CLI lies in continued exploration and practice. So, don’t shy away from experimenting with new commands and techniques, and remember, each challenge you overcome is another step towards mastering Salesforce DX.


This article is not endorsed by Salesforce, Google, or any other company in any way. I shared my knowledge on this topic in this blog post. Please always refer to Official Documentation for the latest information.


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