Salesforce Delivers on Salesforce1 Lightning Component Promise

Looking to make it a lot simpler developers to build applications, Salesforce today announced the general availability of Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder tools, along with the formal opening of a marketplace through which components developed using Salesforce tools can be distributed.

Announced last fall, Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder tools are part of a concerted effort by Salesforce to reduce mobile application development backlog, says Joe Schmidt, senior director of platform. Rather than building applications from the ground up, developers of various skill levels can stitch components together to create their own composite applications.

Salesforce Lightning Components are based on JavaScript, and the reusable components created can range from user interface elements to complete microservices with embedded data and logic. Other examples of components include e-signature, compensation calculators, maps, calendars, buttons and number-entry forms. App Builder is the visual programming environment that Salesforce provides to enable developers to stitch components together to create an application.

To create enough critical mass around those components, Salesforce has also opened AppExchange for Components, a marketplace through which Schmidt says Salesforce is trying to build a partner ecosystem. At the time of launch, AppExchange for Components includes 50 components that have all been validated by Salesforce.

Schmidt says Salesforce expects to see many of the line-of-business users who currently use its portfolio of software-as-a-service applications developing applications that invoke Salesforce1 Lightning APIs themselves, which in turn should reduce the number of application development projects that wind up being added to the application backlog that needs to be addressed by professional developers. The result should be a much broader number of applications participating in the overall API economy.

Like other providers of what are essentially rapid application development tools, Salesforce envisions a world in which organizations of all sizes are creating applications in a more collaborative manner. Rather than shipping requirements off the developers, business executives will collaborate interactively with developers or even power users within their departments to build applications that will run on the Salesforce cloud.

The degree to which Salesforce can build up a viable component ecosystem around Salesforce1 Lightning Components remains to be seen. Just about every other vendor that provides RAD tools has already embarked on a similar strategy. In this instance, Salesforce is counting on exposing a broad base of end users who previously had no exposure to RAD tools of any type to eventually create its own powerful self-sustaining ecosystem.

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