Salesforce DX Democratizes Coding via Heroku Tools and Einstein AI-Powered CRM Apps

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • The Trailhead training program continues to play a big part infiltrating AI into app development.
  • Salesforce DX represents a leveraging of Heroku tools to a broader audience of developers to achieve continuous integration.

At its recent TrailheaDX conference, Salesforce provided further insight into its efforts to train more developers on its high-value services, including AI-powered CRM apps, and increase the competitive threat it poses to software platform rivals Oracle, Microsoft and Amazon.

Salesforce is updating its beta developer platform, DX, with important developer experience technologies borrowed from its Heroku PaaS, such as CLI and metadata capabilities, with a new metadata API offering expected later this year. A key theme of the conference was new developer opportunities around AI in the form of APIs for building intelligent apps via Einstein Platform Service. New Einstein capabilities include natural language processing and image recognition to shore up marketing and customer support experiences.

The new portfolio of platform services supporting AI-powered CRM apps feeds into the notion that Salesforce’s platform services are merely a CRM extension, but the company is quick to point out that CRM is most enterprises’ primary way of engaging with customers and its platform supports app development, which helps augment businesses. One proof point for that claim is the thousands of apps featured in the company’s AppExchange, built using Force. The company’s goal is to leverage more Heroku tools and make them available for the broader Force developer ecosystem.

Another theme of the conference was Salesforce’s ability to leverage the power of its mega training program, Trailhead, which now boasts 4 million developers, as well as new training tracks for developers moving into AI. The company bolstered its messaging around democratizing the masses of coders and non-coders to build applications using its tools and platforms, including Lightning and Process Builder.

DX, a major engineering endeavor for Salesforce during the past two years, is a source-driven development experience (DX) including new integrations to help pull together pivotal technologies – enabling availability, events, big data and AI, through composability around metadata and abstraction. The developer preview is based around externalizing source metadata, enabling the support of various open development tools to ease collaboration around metadata.

Most importantly, DX is intended to open up the developer experience so developers can build apps with the tools they’re most familiar with – e.g., Git, Selenium or Eclipse. Developers can also access an integrated test suite or plug into third-party test and build automation tools, which is important for continuous integration and continuous delivery objectives. DX is not tied to Heroku, but certainly will be optimized for the popular Salesforce platform service, eventually integrating with Heroku Flow to automate deployments off GitHub repositories, as well as with Heroku Pipelines to streamline everything from development and test to production.

Salesforce is now tackling app development from a continuous delivery perspective, where it’s not just about creating great apps, but how enterprises can efficiently move those apps into production as well as roll them back and change them when necessary. Salesforce is showing enterprise developers how it will provide tools and microservices architectures to mirror methodologies by companies like Facebook and Netflix, which have pushed the limit in the consumer space through modern development technologies.

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