How to build apps on Salesforce's platform

Not only does Salesforce offer easy application development and deployment in the cloud, its Trailhead training site offers self-guided courses to get you there

How to build apps on Salesforce's platform

In the cloud world, SaaS applications are built from services. As a SaaS application becomes widely adopted, increasing numbers of customers demand features specific to their business that the SaaS provider can’t afford to build. Instead, the SaaS provider decides to expose the underlying services by making them API-accessible -- so developers can customize the application, build their own applications, or incorporate certain services into their own business workflows.

At that inflection point, the application becomes a platform.

Salesforce provides a classic example of this progression. In the beginning, Salesforce was a pure Web play, with a CRM interface built around its own user experience and a bunch of check-box configuration choices. Now Salesforce is a very different beast, with more than half the billions of transactions that run through the service coming from its APIs.

Getting to know the Salesforce platform

Salesforce has attempted more than once to become a platform company, with varying levels of success. Its early launch of its Apex development tools made it easier to customize the Salesforce workflow, adding new steps and new pages to the service. But what really changed how it delivered its platform was the acquisition of the Heroku PaaS, which gave the CRM company an infusion of developer-focused DNA at exactly the right time.

The result has been an explosion of new tools for developers, as well as the self-paced training site Trailhead. Getting developer relations right isn’t easy, with Microsoft’s MSDN often cited as the gold standard of how to build and run a developer outreach program. Trailhead takes a different route, building on the self-service MOOC (massive online open course) model established by Khan Academy and others.

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