Salesforce Promises Speedier Mobile App Development

Salesforce aims to help customers deliver mobile apps more quickly with a new toolkit and "quick start" packs supporting popular JavaScript frameworks.
10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
10 Tools To Prevent Cloud Vendor Lock-in
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Customer interactions are going mobile -- but if companies can't keep pace because they're stuck in slow software development cycles, they just might see customers jump ship to nimbler competitors offering engaging mobile experiences. announced Tuesday that it's adding to what it says are already considerable speed-of-deployment advantages with an updated mobile software development kit (SDK) and new Developer Mobile Packs supporting a choice of popular JavaScript development frameworks.

Even without Tuesday's announcements, the cloud-based development platform puts companies miles ahead in the race to deliver new mobile apps because it eliminates many steps in the "long, slow and expensive" process of developing mobile apps on legacy software platforms, according to Scott Holden, VP of platform marketing at Salesforce.

[ Want more on the cloud kingpin's mobile-centric strategy? Read Takes Smartphone-First Approach. ]

"You have to do a whole bunch of work on coding the back end, testing, security, server management and all that boring plumbing work even before you get to the user interface," Holden said in an interview with InformationWeek. "Salesforce handles all of that out of the box, so you don't have to worry about testing, tuning, scaling, setting up user access and configuring reports and dashboards."

These starting points are built into platform services, cutting days if not weeks out of development, Holden said. That theory assumes that can be the single point of interaction between a mobile app and company information and systems -- not necessarily a safe assumption if Salesforce sees limited use in an enterprise. To make mobile app development even faster, Salesforce is releasing a 2.0 update of its mobile SDK as well as the Mobile Packs. Both releases take advantage of AngularJS, Backbone.js and jQuery Mobile, three popular open-source mobile JavaScript development frameworks that have been integrated into the Salesforce API. That's just a starting point, said Holden.

"New frameworks pop up every month, and because we're a cloud-based platform, we're able to take advantage of those new frameworks and quickly plug them into our API," he said. "Every time we upgrade our service, all those integrations are backward compatible with our platform so we can move at the speed of the cloud and the Internet."

The bottom line is delivering new mobile applications quickly, something customers can do using's SDK 2.0 to build HTML5 apps, native apps or hybrid apps, Holden said. By exploiting HTML5, which is supported by sales and service applications, customers will be able to develop core application functionality once and then add native functionality specific to Apple iOS, Android and other mobile platforms, he added.

"When you're looking to build natively or hybrid, using our SDK you can connect to Salesforce data and, with these built-in frameworks, you can plug into a phone's native offline data-handling capabilities," Holden said. He added that users of mobile apps developed with the SDK and Mobile Packs will also be able to authenticate using, Facebook and Twitter sign-in capabilities.

The Mobile Packs supporting AngualarJS, Backbone.js and jQuery Mobile are available immediately. Salesforce Mobile SDK 2.0 is set for release in June.

To help partners get up to speed quickly, the company announced its Mobile Accelerator Program to train consultants and integrators from the likes of Appirio, Bluewolf, Capgemini and Deloitte. To support developers, Salesforce plans to host community events across 37 cities worldwide during the week of April 22, with hackathons, peer-to-peer events and workshops intended to expose the new capabilities and spur mobile app development.