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Salesforce Finds New Ways To Build Its Developer Ecosystem

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Salesforce's goal to expand its developer ecosystem continues with a slew of announcements, including new developer features, free online training and incentives, as well as a $50 million investment in support of startups building Lightning apps.

This week Salesforce is hosting its first ever developer-focused conference in San Francisco, called TrailheaDX. At the event, Salesforce announced new features for developers along with a $50 million commitment to the Lightning Fund to help fuel innovation in Lightning development. The company is also launching a new incubator for early stage enterprise cloud startups that use Salesforce Lightning. On top of that, the company's free online learning platform, Trailhead, has added new incentives to help people learn how to develop apps for Salesforce.

TrailheaDX is designed to bring various types of developers together in one place, and Salesforce is emphasizing that they are all a part of one ecosystem. The demand for new social and mobile apps surpasses traditional developer availability. By democratizing the development of apps through new tools, Salesforce aims to accelerate app development and boost productivity, as well as the number of apps. Currently, Salesforce's AppExchange has over 5.5 million apps.

In an interview with Dylan Steele, Sr. Director of the Salesforce App Cloud, we learned that for this sold out conference there are 2500 attendees, with a potential audience of 2.5 million Salesforce developers as the event is also being streamed live. TrailheaDX includes declarative/drag and drop development topics along with more traditional architectural style code development content. 

Salesforce's drive to create a strong developer ecosystem started six years ago when the company acquired Heroku, one of the first platform as a service (PaaS) offerings on the market. Heroku runs code on top of AWS and like other PaaS options it offers many advantages for developers, including no virtual machines to manage, no software to install, and no stacks to manage, making deploying and managing web applications much easier.

Salesforce's Lightning goes even further, allowing non-developers to create mobile, social and connected apps. Lightning is event driven and separates the UX/UI layer from the data layer, or the user experience from the app logic. The Lightning Component Framework, when used by developers to build custom components, may be reused as app building blocks. The Lightning App Builder integrates these custom components with other components from the AppExchange allowing users to design apps visually, without coding. Any Lightning standard components may be used, including those created by third-parties, partners, or even other Salesforce customers.

New Lightning Features

This week Salesforce announced new features for its Lightning component development, including Lightning LockerServiceLightning Inspector and Lightning CLI

Lightning LockerService adds new security features, particularly for browser apps to protect against XSS vulnerabilities (preventing the app from reading other components' rendered data), or to prevent apps from calling undocumented or private APIs. Lightning Inspector is a google chrome extension that shows app performance, and generally allows much more extensive debugging to improve performance. Lightning CLI is a plug-in for Heroku that looks at Lightning component script flags directly on the command line.

Trailhead Superbadges

Through a separate announcement, Salesforce is encouraging current and prospective developers to utilize its Trailhead online learning environment, which is available for free. The company announced the release of "Superbadges," which reward learners for the successful completion of real-world business challenges.

Superbadges consist of guided exercises in a two to three day unit course. Superbadges in Lightning Experience, Apex (a language), Reports and Dashboards and Security are available immediately, with additional Superbadges to follow.

Trailhead learning modules and guided trails are available for both high (traditional) and low-code (drag and drop) builders. And earned badges can be posted in the credentialed LinkedIn profile. 

For more information on Salesforce's TralheaDX, or to watch the live broadcast, visit