Salesforce.com says developer base almost doubled in a year

The new Salesforce1 platform could spark even more rapid adoption, according to a Salesforce.com exec

Salesforce.com says it now has 1.4 million registered developers, almost double the number it had a year ago, a growth spurt one analyst called "stunning."

The Salesforce1 platform announced this week could help it grow even faster, said Adam Seligman, vice president of developer marketing, during a keynote Wednesday at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco.

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Salesforce1 provides additional APIs (application programming interfaces) and a new mobile app that serves much like a portal for Salesforce.com's own software, as well as custom-built applications and third-party programs.

Developers can work with the Salesforce.com platform both programmatically and with point-and-click tools. The latter will be the focus of an online course created with Udacity that requires no prior development experience. The goal is to get students interested in Salesforce.com's technology, Seligman said.

Salesforce1 has features aimed at seasoned Salesforce.com developers too. New APIs tap into system metadata, analytics, the Chatter social collaboration tool and other areas. The point is to make Salesforce.com's products "API first," Seligman said.

New mobile services are also on tap, including for geolocation, identity management and notifications. And there's a new version of Heroku, the development platform for consumer-oriented applications Salesforce.com gained through its acquisition of the namesake company. Dubbed Heroku1, it can synchronize data between a Heroku-hosted application and Salesforce.com.

Finally, there's a new command line interface for Force.com, for developers who prefer to work that way. The CLI is open source and Salesforce.com is looking for help from the developer community to finish building it.

Many of those developers packed the keynote hall at Dreamforce on Wednesday, and more participated in a "hackathon" with a $1 million prize for creating the best mobile app using Salesforce.com's technology.

"You bring the energy, you bring the innovation, you bring the passion," Andrew Waite, vice president of product management, told the crowd. "You're taking the platform we've provided and taking it further than we ever imagined."

That praise reflects the fact that Salesforce.com recognizes the multiplying force developers can have on its success if they create applications that catch the market's fancy.

"The war for developers is happening," with Salesforce.com going up against Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM and others, said analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research.

The growth in Salesforce.com's developer base "is simply stunning," IDC analyst Al Hilwa said via email.

That said, "the one thing to keep in mind is that developers these days are inherently polyglot and participate in many communities at the same time," Hilwa added.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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