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Dreamforce Recap – Platform Enhancements

Dreamforce platform enhancements

Since Tom and I are deeply involved with multiple Force.com development projects at any given time, my favorite part of the Dreamforce Keynote focuses on platform enhancements.  I’m going to give a high level overview of each bullet point of the press release, what it means for Red Argyle, and what it means for You, as well as a link to some snazzy information.  We’re going to still be following up with a few more blogs, there’s too much to cover in one post!

Before I totally geek out, I’ll review what the Force.com platform is – Force.com is “Salesforce.com without the sales”, or the suite of infrastructure that Salesforce offeres developers to deeply customize.  Database schema, user interfaces, social plugins, and integrations all fall within the auspices of Force.com.  Okay, shall we proceed?

Chatter Connect

Chatter connect is a suite of enhancements that extend Chatter.  It allows 3rd party ap developers to deeply integrate Chatter into other applications such as Instant Messaging applications, web portals, intranets (yes, even Sharepoint!).

What this means for Red Argyle – When crafting solutions for our customers that need to be social, our level of effort to “socialize” applications suddenly became much, much lower.

What this means for YOU – Want to ditch Google Chat and have everything within Chatter?  Want to add Chatter Widgets to your intranet?  – It is now possible!

Touch.salesforce.com

The line is blurring between what is mobile and what is.. uh.. “unmobile”.  Maintaining a multitude of mobile apps for Blackberries, iPads, iPhones, Androids… etc, has become unweildy.  Salesforce decided to take this head on and leverage HTML5 technology which makes a mobile user interface ubiquitous.  UI, now being based on HTML5 standards will enable companies to take the jump to mobile with ease.

What this means for Red Argyle – In the short term, we probably will not be full scale embracing this addon due to its lack of support for VisualForce components, although they are “coming shortly” from what we were told.  However, we are very excited about what opportunities this application will offer, in the future we will be able to incorporate gestures into our UI designs.  Exciting stuff.

What this means for YOU – As you continue planning your corporate IT strategy and using Mobile technology, consider using touch.salesforce.com as a way to distribute mobile data access.  It could potentially save a lot of effort and budget by using Touch instead of developing your own custom mobile applications.

Here’s a great video demonstrating Touch functionality.  Even supports some offline ability!

Visual Workflow Cloud Designer

Salesforce has been quietly imporoving a technology called “Flow” which is a visual workflow process within the force.com platform.  One big hurdle for many is that it only worked in the past with a 3rd party flow designer application which had to be installed on a local machine, and it would not work on a Mac, only PC.

What this means to Red Argyle – While this is not rocking our world, it does make our lives easier.  Less software to maintain, no more messing around with parallels and 3rd party app installations to use Flow.  Moving forward, it’s a great enhancement and another demonstration of Salesforce’s committment to the cloud.

What this means to YOU – Using Salesforce Visual Workflow just got that much easier for you, and more importantly, for your users.  Your administrators will find it much easier to deploy and train on this in the future.

Here’s a decent video describing what Visual Workflow can do for your organization.

Siteforce 

Siteforce is now added as an extension to the Force.com platform.  In short, Siteforce is a web content management system for managing all a company’s websites from within Salesforce.  It is now generally available and native to the force.com platform.

What this means to Red Argyle – Going with the theme fo these releases, Salesforce is giving us more options and more ways to solve our customers’ challenges.  Siteforce is a great tool and for some, will be a great way to get content posted to the web, allow non technical staff to post content, and rapidly develop and prototype deeply integrated websites.

What this means for YOU – If you have Salesforce, it just also became a content manager.  It is fully possible that you could, from your Salesforce.com instance, manage your internal data AND manage your public facing website & data.  AND, since they are both running out of the same salesforce database, there is no more integration required, they are already ONE database.  This could offer a lot of flexibility where deep functionality is required between the public side and the internal side.

Here’s a video demonstrating the Siteforce authoring environment

Conclusion

This blog post only covers about 25% of the news from Dreamforce.  Tom and I will be circling back with other enhancemnts that we are exccited about, particularly in regards to the Social Profile, Database.com, Data.com, and Heroku.  We’re excited about all of this, and want to share our thoughts.  Overall, we were impressed by what Salesforce brought to the table this year and we now have the most robust, flexible, and fast set of tools that we have EVER had available to help you solve your business challenges.  Stay Awesome!