Salesforce.com opens development tools to customers

Programming language opened up

In the hope of creating a third major revenue-generating business, Salesforce.com plans to make its Apex programming language and development platform available to users of its on-demand applications.

Apex is a multi-tenant programming language and environment with Java-like syntax and is already used by Salesforce.com’s developers to create the company’s hosted CRM software, says George Hu, senior vice president of applications at Salesforce.com.

Java’s focus is on creating single-tenancy applications where an IT vendor hosts each customer’s software on a different server. In contrast, Apex was designed from the start to help build multi-tenancy applications where a firm runs one instance of the on-demand software used by all its customers on the same server, Hu says.

He positions Apex as “a third-core pillar” of Salesforce.com’s strategy, on a par with its hosted CRM applications and its AppExchange network. “No corner of the applications market will be safe from the on-demand transformation,” he says.

Using Apex, customers will be able to customise any component in their existing Salesforce.com CRM implementations or build their own code and replace existing Salesforce.com features with ones more suitable to their particular needs.

Salesforce.com is still determining how it will price and package Apex, Hu says. The Apex platform is due to appear when the company ships the next major release of its CRM software, Salesforce Winter ’07, later this year, while the Apex programming language should become available next year.

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