I’ve waited to see what the blogosphere would say about the first Salesforce.com Developer Conference, held last week in Santa Clara. By any measure, the event itself was certainly a success, with more than 1,100 participants registered by mid-day and with breakout sessions fully packed right up to the end of the afternoon.

At least as important, though, is the buzz that spreads out of the event and into the worldwide developer community — and by that measure, it seems as if this conference offered developers the right opportunity at the right time.

Alan Zeichick’s Z Trek blog has been known to call a spade a spade where salesforce.com is concerned: Alan was unsparing, for example, in his critique of Marc Benioff’s keynote at the Software 2007 conference, but he clearly found more technical meat to chew in Marc’s DevCon opening session.

Alan’s comments reflect the key points that I’d want to see a developer take away from our event:

  • The Salesforce Platform is more than a hosted service: it combines client-side and server-side opportunities for developers to create new value
  • The Salesforce Platform is more than just a pay-per-cycle compute grid: it provides a rich and polished set of services that dramatically accelerate the delivery of business-oriented applications
  • The Salesforce Platform is wide open to value creation using
    third-party technologies like Adobe Flex
    , with new capabilities for
    consuming as well as exposing Web services to build powerful composite
  • Engagement and support of the developer community is a crucial priority, as Microsoft has long demonstrated, and one that salesforce.com has clearly adopted as well

Jeff Kaplan on Think IT Services makes two additional points:

  • "[C]orporate executives and end-users are longing for a new breed of
    applications…designed to
    reflect the business processes and workflows of a corporate environment
    rather than…accommodate the limitations
    of the IT architecture." He adds, and I agree, that this represents a strategic overlap between doing SaaS right and doing SOA right.
  • SaaS leadership is at least as much a matter of creating a
    platform, ecosystem, and channel to the applications market as it is of
    creating best-in-class SaaS applications. What this means is that it takes more than enabling an application suite with Web service interfaces to transform an old-school software vendor into a SaaS contender.

For developers, though, the really cool stuff is the incredible productivity proposition of standards-based services. During rehearsals for our opening session demos on May 21, I was startled to the point of a loud "Wow!" by a demo using Apex Code and Google APIs to exchange data between a salesforce.com account and a Google spreadsheet.

Sure enough, the live audience later on gave a burst of applause to the same piece of wizardry, and John Musser highlighted this capability in his post on Programmable Web. You can see it yourself in our screencast: if you’re impatient you can jump to time mark 7:13 for the Google Spreadsheets portion of that demo.

Ian Smith at Download Squad has his own wry summary of the likely impact of Salesforce SOA: "Web 2.0 grows up, gets job." Yeah, that about sums it up. I look forward to seeing Web 2.0 turn from a promising new employee into a seasoned contributor.

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