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Salesforce moves Lightning Web Components to open source

Salesforce contributed its low-code web development framework to the open source community to bring more developers with new ideas into its fold.

Cloud platform players have taken heat for not giving back to the open source community equitably. Salesforce now says it views open source as a wellspring for innovation.

Salesforce recently contributed its Lightning Web Components framework to open source. The Lightning Web Components framework provides developers with a standards-based JavaScript model to build enterprise apps on the Salesforce Lightning low-code development environment.

With this move to push its web components platform out in the open, Salesforce hopes to jumpstart web development on the Salesforce CRM platform. "It positions Salesforce to enrich its Lightning Web Components platform with decentralized contributions and innovation from the open source community," said Arnal Dayaratna, an analyst at IDC.

However, it will take at least a year to build an open source community around the technology because the Lightning Web Components framework is relatively mature, he said. Salesforce launched the framework last December.

Salesforce is not new to open source code contributions. Apache Phoenix, released in 2014, enables OLTP and operational analytics in Hadoop for low latency applications. Salesforce also open sourced its TransmogrifAI project, an automated machine learning library for structured data, in August 2018.

The Salesforce Lightning Web Components Playground
Salesforce Lightning Web Components Playground

Increase developer mindshare and sharpen skills

Salesforce's contribution of Lightning Web Components to open source seeks to attract innovation and transparency and strengthen the company's mindshare among software developers.

Specifically, the company wants to drive interest among JavaScript developers in its front-end app development framework based on Lightning App Builder, said Charlotte Dunlap, an analyst at GlobalData in Santa Cruz, Calif. Meanwhile, non-Salesforce developers can experiment with components on Lightning using modern JavaScript.

Salesforce has received criticism for keeping its technology proprietary, so it's good to see the company further its OSS mission with this move.
Charlotte DunlapAnalyst, GlobalData

"Salesforce has received criticism for keeping its technology proprietary, so it's good to see the company further its OSS mission with this move," she said.

Contributions from a wide range of independent developers, Salesforce partners and enterprise customers could give Lightning Web Components a shot in the arm, said Larry Carvalho, an IDC analyst. In addition, startups can also create add-ons and improvements to capitalize on the large number of Salesforce customers.

"Developers using Lightning Web Components are usually not as savvy in lower-level code, so it will be a test of time to determine how many contributors join," he said.

Working on open source projects enables developers to build new skills, not only technical skills but also how to work remotely and collaboratively with open source developers around the world, said Ryan Ellis, senior VP of product management at Salesforce.

And that addresses a bigger issue -- the world needs more skilled developers overall, he said. There are 250,000 app dev jobs open in the U.S. alone, based on a study by the Association for Competitive Technology, based in Washington, D.C.

To get started with the new open source release of Lightning Web Components, developers can visit https://lwc.dev/ and https://github.com/salesforce/lwc.

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