Salesforce.com has announced a second new product at its Dreamforce user conference – Salesforce1 Lightning, which is designed for building mobile applications.
Like the cloud software provider’s newly announced Wave data analytics service, Salesforce products are increasingly positioned for use by technical and business users alike. In this vein, Salesforce1 Lightning features prebuilt components to build data-centric application functions such as feeds, lists, charting, search and navigation.
The Lightning App Builder is aligned for technical and non-technical users to build software applications via point-and-click controls that do not require a detailed understanding of software engineering. The company claimed that anyone can quickly design apps with a customised user interface across devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, phablets, smartphones, wearables and connected products.
“It shouldn’t be harder to build an app than it is to run a business,” said Mike Rosenbaum, general manager for the Salesforce1 Platform at Salesforce.com. “With Salesforce1 Lightning, we’ve made technology barriers disappear so anyone can create the apps they need. I can’t wait to see what happens when Lightning gets into the hands of developers and business users.”
Salesforce is developing such products based around the argument that business users can sometimes understand their application computing requirements faster or more fully than programmers.
With Salesforce1 Lightning, we’ve made technology barriers disappear so anyone can create the apps they need
Mike Rosenbaum, Salesforce.com
Salesforce1 Lightning features a Process Builder to build enterprise workflows and visually automate complex processes. This software tool is intended to help control daily activities such as sending follow-up email reminders, submitting pricing approval requests and assigning tasks. It also works to deliver more complex processes, like employee recruitment, supplier procurement and order fulfillment.
The Lightning Community Designer promises to let anyone start community forums and groups. The Lightning Schema Builder is intended to save developers having to spend hours managing and reformatting data in massive tables. With Lightning Schema Builder, they can now add new custom objects and fields, and map relationships, all without any code.
Writing on Salesforce.com’s technical blog, Rosenbaum said: “A year after the launch of Salesforce1, we are ready to open up this framework so that developers can author their own Lightning Components, and modify and extend ours. We are opening up the very fabric of Salesforce and our platform in a way that we have never done before.”
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Rosenbaum said software developers need not worry too much about the actions of non-programmers and that he is not saying firms don't need developers any more. He suggested that by virtue of developers providing the initial form of components inside this system, that higher-level ownership is still retained.
“The key point is that developers can now build components instead of building apps from scratch. This means developers can now go faster and re-use components which will help everyone in our entire ecosystem go faster,” said Rosenbaum.
Lightning Framework and Lightning Schema Builder are now generally available as part of the Salesforce1 Platform. Lightning Components is available in beta and expected to be generally available in the February 2015 release of the Salesforce1 Platform. Lightning App Builder is expected to be released in beta in the February release.