With demand for mobile applications rising faster than developers can keep pace, Salesforce.com at the Dreamforce 2014 conference today unfurled a new Salesforce1 Lightning platform for building mobile applications using components that developers can stitch together versus writing every piece of code themselves.
Salesforce is making the platform, based on the same Salesforce Lightning Component Framework platform used to develop the Salesforce1 customer relationship management application, available to developers in order to enable them to more easily build mobile applications capable of invoking the Salesforce1 API.
Scott Holden, vice president of the Salesforce1 platform, says the mobile applications built using Lightning can be dynamically resized to support the screen size of any mobile computing device the application needs to run on.
The Salesforce Lightning Component Framework provides access to a range of prebuilt components, including feed, list, chart, search and navigation modules. In addition, vendors such as Clerisoft, Plumsoft, Skuid and the TAS Group are building list views, keypads, case layouts, influencer charts and maps with real-time data components that will be made available on the Salesforce AppExchange.
Other key elements of the Lightning Component Framework include the Lightning App Builder tool, which developers use to stitch various components together; Lightning Process Builder workflow tools, which allow developers to automate processes using a graphical tool; Lightning Community Designer for creating social networks around Lightning applications; and Lightning Schema Builder for adding custom objects and fields, including mapping relationships, without having to write any code.
Holden says Salesforce1 Lightning is essentially a new type of platform-as-a-service environment that will not only make the development of mobile applications more accessible, it should also make it simpler to connect those applications to a variety of back-end services using the Salesforce1 API.
As an application development environment in the cloud, Salesforce1 Lightning is expected to be used by developers possessing a wide variety of skill levels. With developers under more pressure than ever to quickly address mobile application development demands, Holden says Salesforce1 Lightning provides a mechanism to quickly address mobile application development backlog.
The degree to which professional developers make the switch to a development platform that only requires them to stitch together components to build an application remains to be seen. But the one thing that is certain is that as more people get comfortable with the idea, chances are the number of people who could be classified as mobile application developers inside any organization is about to substantially increase.