What is the difference between activity timeline and related list in Salesforce

 Activity timeline and related list in Salesforce: Salesforce provides a variety of tools and features to help users manage and visualize data effectively. Two prominent components, the Activity Timeline and Related Lists, play crucial roles in displaying and organizing information within Salesforce. This blog post aims to dissect the disparities between these two elements, shedding light on their functionalities, use cases, and how they contribute to an enriched user experience.

What distinguishes Salesforce Activity Timeline from Related Lists?

Salesforce Activity Timeline chronicles chronological interactions like emails, calls, and tasks, offering a dynamic interface. Related Lists, however, provide a static view of records from associated objects, giving a comprehensive context to the primary record.

Understanding the Basics:

1. Activity Timeline:

  • The Activity Timeline is a dynamic interface within Salesforce that consolidates various activities associated with a specific record. It serves as a central hub for tracking and managing interactions such as emails, calls, tasks, and events.

2. Related Lists:

  • Related Lists, on the other hand, are sections on a record page that display related records from a different object. These lists allow users to view and interact with records that share a relationship with the primary record being viewed.

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Key Differences of  activity timeline and related list in Salesforce

1. Content and Purpose:

  • The Activity Timeline focuses on presenting a chronological view of activities related to a specific record, emphasizing communication and engagement. Related Lists, however, showcase records from related objects, providing a broader context to the primary record.

2. Types of Information Displayed:

  • The Activity Timeline primarily displays activities like emails, calls, and events. Related Lists, on the contrary, can display a wide range of related records such as contacts, opportunities, or custom objects associated with the primary record.

3. Dynamic vs. Static Content:

  • The Activity Timeline is dynamic and adapts to changes in real-time, showcasing the most recent activities. Related Lists, in contrast, display static content, reflecting the related records as they were when the page was loaded.

4. User Interaction:

  • The Activity Timeline encourages user interaction by allowing users to log calls, create tasks, and manage emails directly within the interface. Related Lists provide a view-only display of related records, with limited interactive capabilities.

Use Cases:

1. Activity Timeline:

  • Ideal for records that involve frequent communication and engagement, such as leads, opportunities, or customer accounts.
  • Enables a comprehensive view of all activities related to a record, streamlining communication tracking.

2. Related Lists:

  • Suitable for scenarios where understanding relationships with other records is crucial.
  • Provides a detailed view of associated records, offering a comprehensive overview of the record’s ecosystem.

How to enable activity timeline in salesforce

Comparison table for activity timeline and related list in Salesforce

Feature Activity Timeline Related Lists
Content Display Displays chronological activities like emails and calls. Displays related records from different objects.
Dynamic vs. Static Dynamic, updates in real-time. Static, reflects related records as of page load.
User Interaction Allows users to log calls, create tasks directly. Primarily a view-only display with limited interaction.
Types of Information Focuses on communication and engagement activities. Can display a wide range of related records.
Use Cases Ideal for records with frequent communication. Useful for understanding relationships and context.
Configuration Flexibility Customizable, administrators can configure displayed activities. Customizable, administrators can choose related objects and fields.
Real-time Updates Offers real-time updates on activity changes. Static, requires page reload for updated information.

Exploring External Resources:

1. Salesforce Activity Timeline Overview

  • Salesforce’s official documentation provides an in-depth overview of the Activity Timeline feature, offering insights into its functionalities and benefits.

2. Salesforce Related Lists Overview

  • Delve into Salesforce’s documentation on Related Lists to understand their purpose, configuration, and how they contribute to a holistic view of records.

Pros and Cons of activity timeline and related list in Salesforce

Pros and Cons of Salesforce Activity Timeline:


  1. Dynamic Interface: Activity Timeline provides a dynamic, real-time interface, showcasing the most recent activities related to a record.
  2. Comprehensive Communication Tracking: Ideal for records involving frequent communication, enabling comprehensive tracking of emails, calls, and tasks.
  3. User Interaction: Allows users to log calls, create tasks, and manage emails directly within the interface, fostering engagement.


  1. Limited Customization: While customizable, the Activity Timeline may have limitations in adding custom fields directly, focusing more on standard activity fields.
  2. Activity-Centric: Primarily centered around communication activities, potentially limiting its scope for records with diverse data.

Pros and Cons of Salesforce Related Lists:


  1. Versatility: Offers a broader view of records by displaying related objects, providing a comprehensive context to the primary record.
  2. Customization Flexibility: Administrators can configure Related Lists to display a wide range of related records, including custom objects and fields.
  3. Static Display: Provides a stable, static display of related records, ensuring consistency unless manually refreshed.


  1. Limited Interaction: Primarily a view-only display with limited interactive capabilities compared to the Activity Timeline.
  2. Static Nature: The static nature might not be suitable for scenarios requiring real-time updates or showcasing the most recent changes.

Understanding these pros and cons helps Salesforce users make informed decisions based on their specific requirements, balancing the strengths and limitations of both Activity Timeline and Related Lists.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1: Can I customize the information displayed in the Activity Timeline?

A1: Yes, the Activity Timeline is customizable. Salesforce administrators can configure the types of activities displayed and their order based on the organization’s needs.

Q2: Are Related Lists available for custom objects in Salesforce?

A2: Yes, Related Lists are available for both standard and custom objects. Salesforce allows you to establish relationships between custom objects and display them in Related Lists.

Q3: Can I add custom fields to the Activity Timeline in Salesforce?

A3: The Activity Timeline primarily displays standard fields related to activities. While adding custom fields directly to the Activity Timeline may be limited, you can leverage Related Lists to display custom fields from related objects.


In the Salesforce ecosystem, understanding the distinctions between the Activity Timeline and Related Lists is essential for optimizing data visualization and user experience. By exploring their unique features, use cases, and diving into external resources, users can leverage these components to their full potential. Whether tracking communication with the Activity Timeline or exploring broader relationships with Related Lists, Salesforce provides a versatile platform for managing and interpreting data efficiently.