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We Attended salesforce.com’s ‘Tour de Force’ Event January 18, 2008

Posted by Jeff in Event Reporting, Technology.
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The first event of a multi-city roadshow profiling salesforce.com’s platform, called Force.com, was held yesterday in San Francisco.  We saw presentations on their latest platform capability, called VisualForce.  This is a tag-based toolset for building custom user interfaces.  In total, Force.com includes the following components:

  • The runtime environment, which forms the basis of all operations, and persistence.  The runtime environment includes standard presentation facilities, standard navigation, on-demand load balancing, account management, and handling of all database-related operations.
  • The building tools, which are all visual, drag and drop tools for creating applications.  These allow the definition of custom objects, custom layouts, custom controls, etc.
  • The scripting/language environment, which is called Apex code.  This is a language similar to PL/SQL, Java or PHP, within which application logic can be written.
  • The presentation environment, which is called VisualForce.  This is defined as a set of tag-based extensions to HTML, in the same way that JSP tags provide presentation tools.
  • The AppExchange, which is Salesforce.com’s facility to package, present, and provide metered access to completed applications which are built with the above four components.

Not surprisingly, the concepts underlying Force.com are very content, or database, oriented.  The API’s have a database-like feel, with operations such as “query”, “update”, and “describe”.  The query language is SQL-based. 

For another description, see the article on the event by Phil Wainewright.  Force.com is one of a rapidly expanding number of cloud computing platform choices available to ISVs today.

It appears that platforms are going to be the important territory to control in the enteprise space during 2008.  This is the latest level of abstraction: we have moved from browser wars some ten years ago, to programming model battles (J2EE vs .NET) during the early part of this decade, to the platform struggles during the latter part of the decade.  There are clearly important platform plays coming from SAP and Oracle.