Following yesterday’s VMforce announcement there have been questions raised as to what this means for Apex and Visualforce and thus far there has been no clear message from salesforce.com on this subject. I mean to change that now.
To put this plainly, Apex and Visualforce are not going away.
First a bit of background. As the original Product Manager for both Visualforce and Apex (disclosure: still responsible for them indirectly) and Java developer who was responsible for an app written on a similar architecture to VMforce you might consider my perspective to be relevant.
There is little doubt that the nature of our programmatic platform offerings today have caused hesitation amongst many developers. Specifically those who have a strong preference for specific tools and frameworks which are not available within our platform. VMforce aims to address that concern head on and based on the reaction thus far there is encouraging evidence that message is resonating.
There are clearly many more non-force.com developers out there than there are force.com developers and while this message is primarily directed toward our existing developers prospective ones may find it to be relevant as well.
Apex was created in 2006 in response to limitations we identified in the architecture on which the app was built (referenced above) as we sought to build more apps on it. Specifically the need for granular support of multi-operation transactions and database-level logic augmentation. It should come as no surprise, then, that even VMforce developers who need this level of control will need to learn and write Apex.
Likewise Visualforce introduced granular and coarse componentization of the standard salesforce.com user interface providing a higher level abstraction and leverage that makes development more productive while remaining tightly integrated with the platform.
Both of these technologies focus on making development on force.com efficient and productive and in large part they have succeeded, especially when combined with the appropriate level of declarative customizations that reduce or eliminate the code that must be written, deployed and maintained.
There is evidence of this in the analysis performed by Nucleus Research and IDC as the majority of customer implementations studied included these technologies which is not surprising since more than half of our enterprise customers have adopted them.
From a product perspective we are listening to the developer community and moving Apex and Visualforce forward. We’re busy working on better debugging capabilities, simplification of limits as well as the introduction of Chatter components and broader integration of standard features within Visualforce not to mention a host of features around Sites. Check out the Summer ’10 release preview for additional information on the things you will see this summer.
VMforce undoubtedly provides choice to the developer and ultimately the developer will decide where they can be most productive and effective in delivering their requirements. Apex and Visualforce will be there to help accelerate and fulfill as needed and for those who prefer them we are absolutely committed to continue innovating around them. Keep logging your ideas, we're listening and delivering.