A Fast Easy Neat ID Generator

Certainly, Salesforce offers its built-in auto-number system, and you could simply utilize a Salesforce ID—ensuring its uniqueness. Yet, there might be instances where you require a number with a distinct format, a specific arrangement like XX-XXX-XXXX, steering clear of potentially awkward letter combinations that could cause unintended implications.

Nobody wants an ID resembling something like 12-HOT-DUDE.


My approach is pretty simple, and since it’s tied to querying Salesforce for prior IDs may not work for everyone.

My unique approach is thus:

  • Generate an ID (details below).
  • Look for it in Salesforce. If not found, return it.
  • Generate X (in my case 10) IDs (this is quick).
  • Look for all 10 at once in Salesforce (better to look for all in one query than one by one).
  • If there are less than 10 matches get the non matched Ids and return one of them.
  • Else, generate an error! Perhaps your ID length is too short (and hence not unique enough)!


So, the inner workings of generating one of these IDs are, again a little tricky.

Why? Formatting and making the ID clean can be fiddly!

There are lots of tricky and code-intensive ways to try to detect if a word is bad or not… but in English (and probably other languages), this is pretty hard.

An easier approach is just to remove the ingredients that would allow the construction of a word at all.

First, we want to mix up letters and numbers — this makes it a LOT harder to construct a word! Next, we remove numbers that look like letters and letters that are commonly involved in making words.

This is what remains – and it must be a good list because these are the letters and numbers that you are allowed when entering serial numbers for Microsoft products.

While I can’t find any official documentation about this, it’s clear Microsoft uses the same list. Finally, we also remove a few outliers that might still conceivably still make words:

  • The numbers: ‘3’,’4′,’6′,’7′,’8′,’9′
  • The letters: ‘B’,’C’,’D’,’F’,’G’,’H’,’J’,’K’,’M’,’P’,’Q’,’R’,’T’,’V’,’W’,’X’,’Y’
  • The letter combos: ‘TH’,’DT’,’TT’,’KK’,’CK’

From here, we just randomly pick letters and numbers from the lists above, excluding any of the combos.

This is just a matter of getting random integers in the right range (code shown here):

public static String getId(Integer length){
 //MICROSOFT Omits these letters and numbers: 0 1 2 5   A E I O U   L N S Z
 //array of numbers: [3,4,6,7,8,9]
 //array of letters: ['B','C','D','F','G','H','J','K','M','P','Q','R','T','V','W','X','Y']
 Map<Integer,List<String>> seeds = new Map<Integer,List<String>>{
 0=>new String[]{'3','4','6','7','8','9'},
 1=>new String[]{'B','C','D','F','G','H','J','K','M','P','Q','R','T','V','W','X','Y'}
 Set<String> invalidCombinations = new Set<String>{'TH','DT','TT','KK','CK'};
 Map<String,Integer> charactersUsed = new Map<String,Integer>();
 String[] generatedString = new String[]{};
 String[] seedArray;
 Integer seedArrayLength;
 Integer elementIndex;
 for (Integer i = 0; i < length; i++){
 Integer startWith = getRandomInt(2);
 seedArray = seeds.get(startWith);
 Integer generatedStringLength = generatedString.size();
 Boolean valid = false;
 Integer counter = 0;
 //while we haven't added anything to the array
 while (generatedStringLength == generatedString.size() && counter < 100){
 elementIndex = getRandomInt(seedArray.size());
 String element = seedArray[elementIndex];
 if (generatedStringLength > 0){
 String previousElement = generatedString[i - 1];
 if (!invalidCombinations.contains(previousElement + element)){
 else {
 return String.join(generatedString,'');

At this point, we have a nice ID, un-masked.

To mask it, we use a little bit of regex and a loop. There are probably lots of ways of doing this, but this is a pretty simple one.

//this is the essence of the mask routine (look at my github for more details)
 String result = mask.replaceAll('X', ''); String regExp = '';
 String[] idChars = idString.split('');
 //loop through id and and replace all placeholder chars
 for (String idChar : idChars){
 result = result.replaceFirst(regExp, idChar);

Hence a mask of ‘XX-XXX-XXXX’ becomes ‘3B-4C9-G8J6’ for example.

Then, we return this nicely masked, generated ID back to the top routine, where it is compared against other IDs in the database.

To use my version on Github call like this:
“`acct.Code__c = IDGenerator.getUniqueId(6, ‘Account’, ‘Code__c’, ‘XXX-XXX’);“`

No Problemo!!