If you’re a Developer, then Dreamforce 2010 was a very good year. Perhaps there was a new killer business user feature announced in a Sales breakout session somewhere, but I unfortunately missed it. The conference kicked-off with Cloudstock
on Monday and each subsequent day brought about one announcement after another targeting cloud developers.
The ultimate in serendipitous geekery had to be the Node.js session with Ryan Dahl. One day I’m hacking away
on node.js and the next I’m running into the core developer at CloudStock. I’m really hooked on this new recipe for the cloud of Linux+Node+NoSQL (is there a cool acronym for this stack yet? LinodeSQL?). Thread based web server processing is starting to feel “old school” thanks to Ryan.Database.com
was the major announcement on Tuesday and, in my opinion, was way past due. The .NET open source toolkit co-launched with Salesforce in 2006
was built on the premise of using Salesforce as a language agnostic platform. Whether you are a Java, C#, Ruby, or PHP Developer should be irrelevant when using a database in the cloud that is accessible via web services (Given that ~50% of enterprise IT shops have Microsoft Developers on staff and C# adoption continues to grow, it seemed logical to win over this community with next generation tools and services that make them more productive in the cloud).
However, the launch of Apex and the AppExchange brought about a few years of obligatory Marketing and promotion of only native platform features while the language agnostic "hybrid" crowd sat patiently, admiring the work of Simon Fell
's web services API and the potential for real-time integration between apps.
The “language agnosticism” of database.com was further reinforced with the announced acquisition of Heroku
. Whether the Ruby community would have naturally gravitated to database.com on their own or the acquisition was necessary to accelerate and demonstrate the value will be perpetually debated.
But the Heroku acquisition somewhat makes sense to me. Back in April I wrote the following
about VMForce:"I think other ORM Developer communities, such as Ruby on Rails Developers, will appreciate what is being offered with VMForce, prompting some to correctly draw parallels between VMForce and Engine Yard.
Same concept, different Ruby hosting vendor (Engine Yard has the low-level levers necessary for enterprise development IMO). The ORM mentality of RoR Developers; who are simply tired of futzing around with relational DBs, indexes, and clusters; are a good D-Day beachhead from which Salesforce can launch their new platform message.
Salesforce Marketing will probably need to tread carefully around the message of “Twitter and Groupon use Ruby on Rails” to maintain credibility in this community. While these statements are technically true, Fail Whales galore prompted Twitter to massively rearchitect their platform, which resulted in the development of Flock DB
and crap loads of memcache servers.
The fact remains that very few massively scaled cloud services run on a relational database. Twitter, Groupon, Facebook, and most other sites run on eventually consistent, massively scaled NoSQL (Not only SQL) architectures. Only Salesforce has developed the intellectual property, talent, and index optimizing algorithms to carry forward relational ACID transactions into the cloud.
The pricing and scalability of database.com appear to fit well for SMB apps or 1-3 month ephemeral large enterprise apps (campaigns or conference apps like Dreamforce.com).REST API
The RESTful interface hack blogged back in May
will soon be a fully supported feature in Spring ‘11.SiteForce
SiteForce looked pretty impressive. I’m guessing SiteForce is the work of SiteMasher talent. Web Designers and Developers accustomed to using apps like Dreamweaver or Front Page will definitely want to check this out.Governor Limits
Oh yeah, we all hate ‘em but understand they’re a necessary evil to keep rogue code from stealing valuable computing resources away from other tenants on the platform. The big news was that the number of governor limits will be dropping from ~55 down to 16 in the next major release by removing the trigger context limits (this brought serious applause from the crowd).Platform State of the Union
The Developer platform state of the union was full of surprises. Shortly after being given a Developer Hero award for the Chatter Bot
app developed earlier this year, Salesforce demonstrated full breakpoint/step-through debugging between Eclipse and a Salesforce Org.
This is a skunkworks-type project still in it’s infancy that will hopefully see the light of day. The demo definitely left me wondering “How’d he do that? Persistent UDP connections? Is that HTTP or some other protocol? Is a database connection being left open? What are the timeout limitations? How does Eclipse get a focus callback from a web browser?”Permission Sets
Where were they? I was really hoping Salesforce would go all in and take their cloud database technology to the next level of access control by announcing granular permission management with the release of permission sets.
This is a subtle feature not widely appreciated by most Salesforce users or admins, but any Salesforce org with more than 100 users understands the need for permission sets.Conclusion
The technology and features were great, but the real highlight of the conference was networking with people.
I really need to hang out with more Salesforce employees now that I live in the bay. Conversations with the Salesforce CIO, Evangelists, Engineers, and Product Managers were energizing.
To have our CIO
and IT Team attend Dreamforce and be aligned on Force.com as a strategic platform is invigorating and makes Facebook an exciting place to work.
The family of Salesforce friends on Twitter continues to grow. It’s always great to meet online friends in person and hang out with existing friends. See you all at Dreamforce 2011!Honored to receive one of three Developer Hero awards. Thank you Salesforce!