Speed-building apps on Force.com

By Jennifer Kavur, ComputerWorld Canada |  Development, Force.com, Salesforce.com

It took just over 15 minutes for Shaul Gorsht to create a custom expense application from scratch complete with custom fields, a modified sharing model, adjusted layout and an approval process.

On stage at the Cloudforce tour in Toronto, the Salesforce.com sales engineer demonstrated just how quickly developers can build their own apps using Force.com --Salesforce.com's application development platform.

Force.com is faster to deploy and develop because the components are pre-built, pre-integrated and pre-tested, said Rob Cheng, director of Platform Product Marketing at Salesforce.com. "It really comes down to the platform services," he said.

Developers configure the components with clicks instead of building them from the ground up with Java or .NET code, Cheng explained. "The difference between Force.com and traditional platforms like Java or .NET is like night and day," he said.

According to Cheng, 80 per cent of the time is spent on declarative point-and-click configuration and 20 per cent is spent on code with Force.com, whereas 20 per cent of the time is spent on clicks and 80 per cent is spent on code when using Java or .NET.

"The phase that traditionally takes by far the most time in the traditional development lifecycle, we're talking about the coding phase, is the phase that Force.com improves the most. There is a 73 per cent reduction in development time for that aspect of the development cycle," said Cheng.

In its recent analysis of 17 Force.com projects, Nucleus Research Inc. found"significant savings" in time to development and ongoing support costs. "On average, developers found that they could deliver applications 4.9 (times)faster on Force.com than on JAVA or .NET," states the Boston, MA-based research firm.

Recent research from IDC found five key benefits for enterprises using the Force.com platform compared to traditional in-house development of custom applications: faster time-to-market, lower cost, higher quality, better performance and accelerated pace of innovation.

The IDC report notes a 76 per cent reduction in time to develop and deploy custom apps, a 54 per cent reduction in three-year TCO (total cost of ownership), a 97 per cent reduction in annual downtime and 60 per cent reduction in time spent dealing with the service desk.

"Force.com changed the process of custom application development so much that companies tripled their output of custom applications and doubled annual upgrades from one to two," states the IDC report, released in September and based on interviews with ten small to large enterprises.

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