There are many common problems, procedures, and systems in the workplace today that are error prone due to manual processes and/or could be more efficient given the right system. Salesforce.com provides a solution with an array of different tools to help you solve your business problems and customize your organization’s unique instance of Salesforce, also referred to as an org, to your specific needs.
All of these tools live on the Salesforce platform, called Force.com, which can be thought of as a place to launch your applications or a foundation for building applications on it. This brief walkthrough will illustrate the different facets of the platform, and not only break down what different key components exist but also how and when to use them.
On Force.com, an app (short for application) is a collection of components such as tabs, reports, dashboards, and pages that address a specific organizational need. Salesforce provides standard apps, standard meaning not custom and included with your org, to streamline getting started on the platform. You can toggle between the different apps by changing the selection in the picklist in the upper right corner. You can extend these standard apps by customizing them with additions you create, or you can create your own custom apps.
One thing to note is it is not always necessary to reinvent the wheel. Salesforce has a cloud application store, called the AppExchange, which is similar to the iTunes App Store, but for business applications. The AppExchange allows you to browse and share apps and services for the Force.com platform. You can install app packages for your org from the AppExchange with only a few mouse clicks, or create a custom app and upload to the AppExchange for other Salesforce users to use. Apps are purchased on a per user basis, but apps created by the Force.com labs team are free.
Building apps is a journey. The process can vary depending on your application requirements and purpose, but the fundamentals for developing a a solid foundation are the same. Knowing your system inside and out, defining and meeting your expected requirements, and automating processes to increase effectiveness are all building blocks for creating agile software solutions.
The following series of articles walks you through the core resources you need to understand how to get started building your own business applications on Force.com. They highlight several tools geared towards helping you be more productive and focus on implementing your ideas rather than getting bogged down in the logistics of what is possible. These articles demonstrate how the platform can challenge you to think in new ways, empower you to create solutions, and enable you to execute on your unique ideas.
Samantha Ready is a Developer Evangelist. You can find her on the developer blog, twitter, and more. Samantha is looking forward to sharing her knowledge of the platform and enabling anyone who wants to build business apps to do so. Samantha says, "Find me at an event, I'd love to meet you!"