Salesforce TrailheaDX 2018, Day 2: Salesforce Faces Exciting Platform Integration Possibilities, Daunting Task to Tackle

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Salesforce’s new platform features improve application building, packaging, and versioning.
  • Salesforce is well poised to leverage its low-code strengths to enhance core platforms, namely DX.

During the technology keynote on Day 2 of the 2018 Salesforce TrailheaDX conference in San Francisco, the company’s co-founder, Parker Harris, admitted he was short on Trailhead training and certification badges. And so, he quickly handed over the mic to his product execs to elaborate on key initiatives and new product features in Salesforce DX, Heroku, and Einstein that the company is preparing for release in the second half of the year. No announcements were made on Day 2, as Salesforce chose to save its big product releases for this fall’s Dreamforce conference. However, a few important new platform features were revealed.

Margaret Francis, Senior VP and GM, Heroku, acknowledged that it’s difficult to build great apps due to increasingly complex technology and architectures accompanying the new DevOps model. She pointed to the importance of Lightning for reducing coding requirements, Heroku Pro-code tools, Heroku Enterprise platform services, Heroku Postgres, and Heroku Elements. She demonstrated a quick app build under this architecture, leveraging the Data Navigation user console. Tools such as these and Heroku Connect have been valuable to users, but Salesforce’s platform services will be significantly improved through an integration platform coming from MuleSoft, once that acquisition goes through.

Salesforce VP of Product Management and its DX guru, Wade Wegner, explained why he’s keen on the new Release Management and Packages features, which are tools for encapsulating app building into packages with simplified versioning from one environment to another. Salesforce DX has been well received by its developer community for its ability to provide more flexibility through slick features, including a command-line interface (CLI) and push tools through Scratch.org and other third-party tools. DX will include new distributing/packaging/versioning apps to address growing operations concerns around automation.
New Salesforce platforms features that were highlighted at TrailheaDX this week include:

– Release Management, for managing releases and versioning across environments;
– Unlocked Packages, to organize and version apps;
– Developer tools and frameworks, including change sets in Visual Studio, code testing with Replay Debugger, and the ability to build a custom CLI via OSS oclif;
– Conversational Queries (announced earlier this month) is part of Salesforce Einstein Analytics platform for easing business users’ interactions with enterprise data.

Salesforce has a busy year ahead. Its main focus will be integrating its newly acquired integration platform services throughout its own platforms, technology which will make systems administrators and developers happy by reducing complexity associated with backend integration. Beyond that work, the company would be wise to leverage its strengths, namely the low-code capabilities of Lightning, and further integrate that technology throughout its platforms. Imagine Salesforce’s modern DX platform having a low-code equivalent for developers and non-developers to work with that would speed their app development and app migration process. In other words, rather than the CLI currently associated with DX, customers would benefit from a visual interface instead for creating Scratch.org (Salesforce’s source-driven and disposable deployment of Salesforce code and metadata). Imagine a low-code interface to support the professional services of application lifecycle management (ALM) in a CICD environment.

Salesforce’s low-code arsenal consists of App Cloud, enhanced by Lightning UX, Lightning Components, App Builder, AppExchange, and Trailhead training, and it is a force to be reckoned with in this emerging space (please see Low-Code Is the New Programming,” March 14, 2018). If Salesforce can act on the behemoth integration tasks ahead, it is well positioned to significantly increase its competitive threat.

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