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Lightning Strikes at Salesforce with DIY Development Platform

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Posted February 5, 2015 By Sean Michael Kerner     Feedback

Salesforce's new Lightning platform aims to make it easier for ordinary folks to build apps, and leverages open source tech to do so.

Salesforce.com is a company that is perhaps best known for its array of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, but it also enables businesses to build their own applications on the Salesforce platform.

Adam Seligman, VP of Developer Relations at Salesforce, helps lead his company's development platform efforts, which includes the Heroku PaaS (platform-as-a-service) and a new effort known as Lightning. Lighting is currently in development with several components generally available and others that are still in beta.

"Lightning includes a client-side JavaScript framework and the server-side binding and infrastructure that supports it," Seligman explained to Enterprise Apps Today. "It allows programmers to build components using JavaScript, CSS and HTML in a nice modern Web component model."

Easy App Development for All

In Seligman's view, the real magic comes into play with the Lighting App builder, a drag-and-drop, component-based tool. It allows a business user to assemble components, bind them to data and build applications.

"So any business user can build mobile apps now," Seligman said.

The Lightning builder technology can run in a Web browser or on an iOS or Android mobile container for the Salesforce One mobile app. Support for the Windows mobile platform also is in the works. Lightning leverages the open source Apache Cordova project to enable cross-platform mobile development.

Open Source Tech

Seligman explained that the core of the Lightning effort actually began as a Salesforce open source project known as Aura.

"The core Lightning technology is something we have been working on for three or four years. We needed a really modern component-based framework," Seligman said. "So we built it ourselves and open sourced it."

Seligman noted that Salesforce has been active in other open source areas, including the Apache Phoenix project. Salesforce started the Phoenix effort, which is now a top-level project at the Apache Software Foundation. Apache Phoenix is a relational database layer over HBase.

"It's still early days for Lightning. We're about to do a 100-city tour in March to engage with our developers and user groups around the world, to get them hands on with the technology," Seligman said, adding, "We have a broad vision for Lightning."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enteprise Apps Today and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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