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Salesforce Keeps Tight Control On Cloud Development

The Force.com cloud platform provides an elastic environment for applications, but development in the cloud occurs within a constrained environment.
Developers may then use VisualForce, Salesforce's language for building the HTLM presentation that will reach the end user. VisualForce in some ways resembles Microsoft's Active Server Pages, .Net technology, and Java Server Pages. Force.com developers may also add Adobe Apex logic statements to their applications. Apex will seem familiar to programmers used to working with C++ or Java, he said.

The platform also provides source-code storage and version control.

There are many features that Salesforce is considering adding, but Carroll said development in the cloud must occur within a constrained environment. If outside developers are going to use the features of the platform, Salesforce must make sure they don't do so in such a way that threatens its continued operations.

"We needed to assert extreme control over the code we're going to run," he explained. "Our main motivation is to maintain rigid control over the platform."

If that sounds hostile to the free range of options that developers typically prefer, that's the trade-off for the advantages of developing in the cloud. The platform has built-in governors and limits. If a program loop runs more than 40,000 times in one session, Force.com will shut it down; ditto, if a single session demands processing of more than 1,000 XML statements.

Salesforce is concerned about turning prospective customers away from its platform, but "it's as much a concern that an accidental programming mistake" will impact the cloud's ongoing operation.

Nevertheless, Salesforce hopes to add many additional developer features to the Force.com platform in the future, such as a capability to build a workflow pattern via a drag-and-drop palette.


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