With Salesforce DX, introduced yesterday, Salesforce is overhauling its software development platform with an end-to-end lifecycle toolchain culminating in continuous delivery.
The platform features source-driven development, testing, a command-line capability, and a standardized developer experience. Integration with Heroku Flow provides continuous delivery for Heroku cloud apps and automates deployments off of GitHub repositories. Application pipelines streamline development, while a test suite supports continuous integration.
Early reviews by analysts give Salesforce DX a thumbs-up. "Salesforce DX is really important because so many Force.com customers want to adopt CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous deployment) practices, but there are so few tools to support the approach," analyst John Rymer, of Forrester, said. "Salesforce's Heroku Pipeline tool didn't address Force.com, but now is the foundation of the DX product, which does." The DX platform serves as a good step toward a full CI/CD solution, but Rymer said it isn't complete yet, noting "it is best at CD; Salesforce will bulk up its CI features over time."
IDC analyst Al Hilwa said that Salesforce is responding to a need for more-powerful application lifecycle approach to application development. With DX, he said, users get "an ambitious set of capabilities that brings modern continuous software development practices to (Salesforce) customers."
FinancialForce, a cloud-based ERP platform built on the Salesforce App Cloud and Force.com, sees DX speeding up the time it takes to develop applications."We believe Salesforce DX is one of the most pivotal innovation on the Salesforce platform -- for partners and our customers," Debbie Ashton, senior vice president of products at FinancialForce, said.
For continuous delivery with DX, developers can plug in third-party build and test automation tools, ranging from Selenium and Git to Sublime. DX also includes an updated Eclipse IDE and scratch.org, an environment for source-driven and disposable deployment of code and metadata. Scratch.orgs are configurable and let developers emulate different editions with varying features and preferences. "Think of the scratch org as your local environment in the cloud," Salesforce said.
DX's command-line interface capabilities can be leveraged across the entire Salesforce platform, and DX moves away from traditional change sets by reimagining packaging for Salesforce applications. "ISV partners and enterprise customers can now build multiple artifacts to streamline the packaging, deployment, and maintenance of custom software built on the Salesforce platform," according to the company.