Salesforce go API-first with Salesforce1
At the recent Dreamforce event in San Francisco Salesforce launched their Salesforce1 platform. The initial deliverables focus on mobile, and aim to improve on the earlier ‘Touch’ user interface by having a richer set of underlying application programming interfaces (APIs). The launch has been accompanied by new application and admin mobile apps.
The primary new mobile app replaces the ‘Chatter’ app. It has improved support for customisations within Salesforce.com, which created a significant functionality gap between the desktop experience and previous mobile applications. The app also offers access to services, reports and dashboards that weren’t accessible before. Much of the new functionality has already been made available as part of a large scale beta test, where it was incorporated into recent releases of ‘Chatter’.
Their developer overview states that ‘The Salesforce1 Platform brings together Force.com, Heroku, and ExactTarget into one family of cloud services - all built API first - to help deliver apps that connect products, users, and next generation experiences.’ The focus on mobile continues with an SDK to build custom iOS and Android mobile apps connected to the platform APIs. Standalone mobile apps have been launched to work with Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud services, each build on the Salesforce1 APIs. The new admin application ‘Salesforce1 A’ allows new users to be provisioned, and the locking of existing accounts.
What Salesforce haven’t yet done is converge their platform as a service (PaaS) offerings. A new edition of Heroku branded Heroku1 has been released that ‘simplifies Salesforce integration and adds enterprise support’, but developers might find themselves needing to separately access Force.com, Heroku and ExactTarget APIs for composite applications. This is clearly demonstrated by the diversity of documentation on the Salesforce1 Development Resources and Developer Documentation sites.
Heroku1 brings a new feature called ‘Connect’ that provides bi-directional data sync between Heroku Postgress and Salesforce. This will allow access to core customer data from apps written in Heroku’s supported languages: Ruby, Node.js, Java and Python. Previously access to that data via Force.com forced the use of Salesforce’s own Apex language.
Use of the new APIs isn’t just for mobile. Applications were demonstrated using connected devices ranging from jet engines to toothbrushes, showing that Salesforce is trying to seize its part of the Internet of things. GPS and RFID data sources have also been integrated to help target marketing and streamline customer service processes.