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Salesforce.com Preps Programming Language and Platform

The new Apex API is designed to support development as a service.

Salesforce.com is rolling out a new programming language and platform called Apex that's designed to let developers write intelligent transactional applications for the Salesforce.com service. Applications built with Apex code will run within the Salesforce.com multi-tenant environment, eliminating the need for operating systems, databases and other software and hardware infrastructure software, the company says.

Based on the same internal development tools used to build the Salesforce.com CRM product, Apex is syntactically similar to Java. Ariel Kelman, Salesforce.com's director of AppExchange product marketing, says Apex will let developers concentrate on high-value tasks.

"From a developer perspective, we're saying that you now can focus on building the application, and then outsource all the low-level infrastructure and non-value added technology to us," Kelman says. "We're essentially allowing developers to build logic into our service and database. We're letting them have fine-grained control over application behavior and the ability to support complex business processes and transactions."

As a platform, Apex is designed to support development as a service. The company says that it will provide capabilities for embedded mashups, Apex analytics, and automatic upgrades and approval workflow. The platform will include:

  • A data relationship API, to access and manage
  • complex data relationships in a single request. This capability, analogous to database join functionality, enhances both the speed and simplicity of integrations and is unique to the Apex API, the company says.
  • Real-time messaging and integration, to allow notifications to be sent based on business events in Salesforce.com.
  • An AJAX toolkit for creating business mashups between Salesforce.com and other systems, such as Google Maps and Skype's VoIP service.

Apex apps are also shareable on the AppExchange directory, http://salesforce.com/appexchange, Salesforce.com's Web-based applications marketplace.

"Apex will enable CIOs and IT departments to focus on innovation, not infrastructure," says AMR analyst Bruce Richardson. "Apex will make on-demand application development available to everyone, allowing businesses to outsource infrastructure and focus on driving business value with their IT investment."

Salesforce.com plans to make the Apex platform available at its Salesforce Winter '07 conference, and the Apex language will launch in the first half of 2007. A public beta program is scheduled to start early next year.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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