I was over today at the Salesforce.com conference getting a look at their new Apex. It’s a big deal.
Remember Visual Basic? It made building business apps for Windows easy.
Drag and drop a few things onto a form and you have a working Windows app.
So, what’s the equivilent of Windows today? Multi-tenant datacenters. You know, services that run on things like Google, Amazon, eBay, MSN, Yahoo, or Salesforce.com’s datacenters (which run on thousands, or even, hundreds of thousands of machines — all that look like one system to a developer).
But building those apps and deploying them to the servers before has been a pretty complex job — Apex tries to make it all easy. I’m too tired to explain it all, but there’s plenty of great reports over on TechMeme. It’s quite impressive, though.
I also note that they have a way to build your own custom server-side extensions which you can then bundle up and share with other Salesforce.com customers.
To take that into another arena, imagine if one of you built a killer WordPress.com extention and then I could run it on WordPress.com (which is also a multi-tenant app). Imagine if the system were smart enough to let me load that extension without taking down the performance of any other WordPress.com customer.
The only problem is that Salesforce.com doesn’t have even close to the reach that Windows does, so saying that this is as significant as Visual Basic is a bit of hyperbole, but it is a pretty significant jump forward for enterprise developers.
Of course check out Dan Farber’s reports, which include a rebuttal from a Salesforce.com competitor, Netsuite.