Earlier today Salesforce announced that it was extending its PaaS capabilities of the Salesforce1 platform with the addition of Lightning Components, a faster way to build apps by users who don’t code (the AppBuilder) and adding components as a section to the Salesforce Marketplace (“AppExchange for Components).


Let’s dissect the press release in our customary way (it can be found here):

SAN FRANCISCO—July 28, 2015—Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), the Customer Success Platform and world’s #1 CRM, today announced general availability of Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder, allowing anyone to visually assemble apps with drag-and-drop ease using pre-built, reusable components. Salesforce also announced AppExchange for Components, expanding the world’s leading marketplace for enterprise apps to include components developed by Salesforce and its partner ecosystem. AppExchange for Components is launching with the fifty components that have been most requested by customers. Salesforce customers like CROSSMARK, Ocado, and The Financial Times are using the new Salesforce1 Lightning tools to build apps for every part of their business.

MyPOV – This is a major step forward for the Salesforce1 Platform, as it extends beyond users who know how to code to users that are ‘reasonably technical’ – but don’t have to have programming skills. In the Salesforce lingo these are the Admins, the Administrators, so the App Builder and the underlying components are a key step to make these users more independent of developers.

Comments on the News

● “Salesforce1, the #1 PaaS, is transforming app development for the enterprise,” said Tod Nielsen, executive vice president, Salesforce1 Platform. “We’re creating the tools and ecosystem that IT needs to build user-centric apps so that companies can innovate faster and succeed.”


MyPOV – True that the move empowers IT. 

● “At CROSSMARK, we are creating a new generation of app builders with Salesforce Lightning,” said Mike Anderson, chief information officer, CROSSMARK. “Components, from both Salesforce and its partners, will be critical to our app development strategy moving forward.”

● “Components represent the future of enterprise app development,” said Hideya Sato, chief executive officer, TerraSky, a Salesforce partner. “AppExchange for Components is a great channel for us to engage with Salesforce customers and enable their innovation.” […]

MyPOV – Good quote from TerraSky – on the one side components are a business opportunity for partners, on the flipside they will also replace some low hanging consultant / SI work gradually, as Admins get more empowered.

Overcoming The “App Gap”: Leveraging Components to Build Engaging Apps Fast
Businesses want the connectivity, immediacy and ease of use that consumers experience using apps on their phones every day. But delivering compelling business apps has become a bottleneck for enterprises. Gartner reports that “through 2017, the market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization capacity to deliver them."[1]

MyPOV – No question mobile apps are growing, but Salesforce needs to be careful at not getting into the confusion of Salesforce1 (the mobile app container) and Salesforce1 Platform as its PaaS. A ‘mobilefirst’ paradigm should be a good approach here.

Today, Salesforce is unleashing innovation in IT departments by delivering component-based app development, a faster way to develop engaging apps. While traditional app development requires developers to write code and create features from scratch, component-based app development lets business users, not just developers, compose and build apps by dragging and dropping components, like snapping together LEGO blocks. Components democratize app development, allowing anyone to create enterprise apps faster.
MyPOV –Very good point how components improve productivity all around –for IT, developers, admins, partner etc. What Salesforce is not mentioning here (and should) is that by lowering the technical hurdle to build applications beyond coding skills the risk of a ‘lost in requirement translation’ outcome of IT projects gets drastically reduced. When end users (or Admins) can build applications directly knowing the end user requirements, those applications will be a better fit and ultimately help an enterprise to become more productive.

Salesforce is accelerating the shift to component-based app development for the enterprise with the delivery of Salesforce1 Lightning Components, Lightning AppBuilder and AppExchange for Components.
Lightning Components: Lightning Components, which are based on JavaScript, are the reusable building blocks of apps. Components can be as simple as single UI elements, or as robust as microservices with embedded data and logic. Examples of components include e-signature, compensation calculators, maps, calendars, buttons, and number entry forms. Developers can share components so that anyone can easily build sophisticated user experiences that are dynamic, mobile, and work for any screen. Businesses can save time and development resources, as well as reduce redundancy, by reusing components across different apps. Lightning Components include standard components built by Salesforce and custom components developed by customers, as well as partner components created by third-party developers, ISVs and system integrators.
MyPOV – The components approach is not new at building applications, it is a proven productivity booster for building applications (remember e.g. the Microsoft Foundation Classes of last century). So it is a key step to add the capability to the Salesforce1 Platform, something we are sure was planned all along. And it is always good to see when platform vendors ad ecosystem lure to their platforms, the same is happening here with Salesforce.

Salesforce Salesforce1 AppBuilder Lightning PaaS
The App Builder aspect - most important in my view
Lightning App Builder: Businesses no longer have to build apps from scratch. Using Lightning App Builder, anyone, not just developers, can draw from an extensive library of reusable, well-defined components to compose apps in a drag-and-drop visual interface. Salesforce components are pre-installed in the App Builder, and partner components can be integrated directly from the AppExchange for Components.
MyPOV – This is the key part of the press release in my view – as mentioned above. Lowering the technical skills required to build new applications will only help to create the application challenge that Salesforce describes well. We expect some backlash as the end users / Admins need to learn – but ultimately end user empowerment is the answer for many business applications needs for the future.

AppExchange for Components: An entirely new category on the AppExchange, AppExchange for Components makes it easy for developers, partners, and customers to find and use components in order to accelerate the building of apps. Components are put through the same rigorous reviews as apps listed on the AppExchange, ensuring they can be trusted. And for developers who create components, they can list them on the AppExchange either for free or monetize them.
MyPOV – Good move by Salesforce as mentioned before. Compared to the AppBuilder capability and effects on the ecosystem, even over stressed in this press release.

Leading Global Companies Build Apps Faster with the Salesforce1 Platform, the World’s #1 PaaS
With the Salesforce1 Platform, the world’s #1 PaaS, companies can transform IT departments into centers of innovation and leapfrog the competition. With more than four million apps and two million developers, the Salesforce1 Platform is the trusted and proven platform for innovative companies around the world. Companies like CROSSMARK, Ocado, and The Financial Times are building apps faster on Salesforce1 Lightning to help every user move at the speed of business. The more than 4,100 customers who participated in a recent study conducted by a third party on behalf of Salesforce reported 52 percent faster application deployment, 50 percent faster new application design, 52 percent faster application configuration and 42 percent decrease in IT cost using the Salesforce1 Platform.

MyPOV – Nice showcase for the power of the Salesforce1 Platform. But then of course the survey talks to the ecosystem that has bought into the Salesforce vision.

Pricing and Availability

● Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder are generally available with the current release of Salesforce and are included in all CRM and Force.com admin licenses.

MyPOV – Key move by Salesforce NOT to add a price tag to this capability. If you want to let a lot of flowers bloom, make it easy – and that often starts with the licensing. Effectively Salesforce has made every Salesforce Admin into a potential App Builder. Smart and good move that will drive adoption to Salesforce1. If you have an ecosystem, leverage it to build the next ecosystem. The question is of course – what do enterprises do that want to use Salesforce1 – but don’t use any of its CRM products.

● The AppExchange for Components is live and available for everyone to access. Partner components on the AppExchange are priced individually on a per user or per Salesforce instance basis.
MyPOV – Good for Salesforce to have a marketplace already – and now it can be leveraged for components, too. Pricing is often tricky, so adoption will show if Salesforce and partners / component builders get that right.

My Overall POV

A good move by Salesforce adding the AppBuilder and Component capabilities to the Salesforce1 Platform. Making it easier for more users to build apps is a good move. In later phases we will hear of the concerns around ‘crapware’, end user programming errors (remember the spreadsheets that cost Millions) – but that will all come later.

On the concern side Salesforce has not (yet) stressed the end user aspect – something competitors have done for mobile app development (see e.g. Oracle, IBM and SAP), but that’s only a logical next step. Salesforce will also have to address some ripples in the ecosystem – as lower value, easy custom work should disappear over time. But that was not scalable business for partners (and many freelancers) anyway, so that’s a good move by Salesforce to keep overall TCO for its customers down.

Overall a good move by Salesforce adding more users, partners to its Salesforce1 Platform, creating more value for customers. And revenue / utilization for Salesforce. It will be interesting to see what the Salesforce has left in store for Dreamforce later in the year on the PaaS / Salesforce1 Platform side. Stay tuned.