The Application Framework lets you customize existing applications or build applications from scratch without writing any code. You can use the declarative power of the Application Framework to quickly create robust applications on Force.com.
The Application Framework Builder gives you easy-to-use tools to modify characteristics of your data, as well as specify the scope of applications or the layout of data on a page. You can also define workflows based on user interaction with data, or create reports on the data. You can use buttons or custom links to extend the default capabilities of your Force.com application. You can create and modify tabs, which can be associated with a Force.com object, Visualforce page, s-control or any web page. You can give users access to tabs, and the user can customize the display of their own set of tabs within an application.
The page layout specifies the appearance of a tab page in a Force.com application. A default page layout is created for a tab when the tab is associated with a data object. The default page layout includes all the visible fields of the object, as well as lists of related records and other associated data, such as system data and custom links.
You can access and modify a page layout from the main page for an object in the Force.com Builder. An object can have more than one page layout, and page layouts can be associated with different user profiles.
Workflows are a simple way to extend the logical operations of your Force.com applications. A workflow is an action which is triggered by inserting or changing a data record. A workflow can trigger a task, email alert, update a data field or send a message.
Workflow rules specify the criteria which determine if a workflow is triggered. A workflow can be triggered immediately, or set to operate at a subsequent interval after the triggering event. These outbound messages are one of the ways you can send information from your Force.com environment to external data stores and applications.
A specialized type of workflow called an 'approval' can route information to a series of people, each of whom can approve the information, sending it on to the next recipient, or decline the approval.
Your Force.com application may focus on collecting data from your users, but your users will gain the greatest benefit from reporting on the information stored in the Force.com database. Reports are based on a report type. A report type defines the data that is available for the report. A user can create a report as a standard report, a report with summary information or a matrix style report. Selection conditions, record order and summary totals can be defined for a report. A user can save a report for future re-use.
The Application Framework provides an enormous amount of default functionality, as well as the ability to modify and extend that functionality. There may be times when you want to replace that functionality with your own specific course of actions. You can add your own functionality to a Force.com application in one of three ways:
A formula is similar to an equation that is executed at run time. Depending on the context of the formula, it can make use of various data and operations to perform the calculation. A useful way to think about formulas is that they are similar to formulas on a spreadsheet. These formulas can make use of data and operations to calculate a new value of some type. Formulas can be used in the database as field type, to define evaluation criteria for data validation and workflow, to calculate data presented in reports, and as expression language in Visualforce.