Developers discuss pros and cons of Force.com

Software as a Service vendor Salesforce.com showed its user community how Web applications can be built on Force.com at the Cloudforce conference in Boston.

BOSTON – Software as a Service vendor Salesforce.com showed its user community how Web applications can be built on Force.com at its Cloudforce event this week. The Force.com platform gives users a cloud-based environment for the rapid development of Web applications and sites.

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Ariel Kelman, the company's VP of platform product marketing, said the platform was developed to remove a lot of the tertiary pieces Web developers get bogged down in, such as modeling, coding and assembly.

"Our users really only have to focus on three main areas," said Kelman. "The database, logic and rules and the user interface."

Of course, users of the platform will likely want to implement custom code if they don't want the site to have a default look and feel.

Customers tend to use Force.com for project management, reporting, analytics and contract management more often than for e-commerce. One user, Craig Traxler of EDL Consulting, showed how his team of three developers built an e-commerce application on Force.com.

"We took three developers out of the e-commerce practice, cross-trained them on the Force.com platform and we gave them a challenge," said Traxler. "We gave them one week to make an e-commerce application."

He said that they set the team to work on Monday, received the HTML on Wednesday and submitted the project on Friday.

 Our users really only have to focus on three main areas: The database, logic and rules, and the user interface.
Ariel Kelman, Salesforce.com VP of platform product marketing,

The mock app was built for video-game sales and had an active Flash display on the front page. The site did just about everything it had to with out-of-the-box tools, except one thing: Sales tax.

"Apparently, Salesforce has not been able to resolve taxation on the Internet on the cloud platform," said Traxler. "So we had to go to a third party for that."

Another potential user, Bill Hare of Pyramid Global Advisors, said he was looking into Force.com to build a Web site for his company's sales team. He said after seeing how it works, he would likely set something up. His company has been a Salesforce.com customer since 2006.

Hare said he is not worried about vendor lock-in, but he wished Salesforce.com would improve its reporting a bit.

"We're happy with the platform and I don't see us moving out any time soon," said Hare. "You can run your whole enterprise through this."

Rob Barry is a news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com and SearchSOA.com.

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