Join the Salesforce Lightning Experience
Dreamforce is just around the corner and without giving away too much it looks like this will be the biggest for us so far. At Dreamforce you will be able to experience our decision making application, which is built from over 80 Lightning Components.
My first attempt to build applications from components dates all the way back to 1992. I worked at IBM in Charlotte, NC and we were trying to build applications with Smalltalk and later with IBM VisualAge products. To put a long story short: we were on the right track but failed.
This is why I am extremely proud that today, we at Fingertip use the Lightning framework to make the most of Components. As mentioned we have completely rebuilt our app with them and are making the most popular ones available on the AppExchange.
The Salesforce Lightning Component framework is the latest wave of the newest web technology. Google has its Polymer, Facebook React, Twitter Flight and finally Mozilla its Brick. Great to see that the same idea and need is getting now finally addressed! In Component technology SFDC Lightning is leading the way with the most robust and enterprise ready approach.
Fingertip is actually one of the pioneering applications using the Salesforce Lightning Component Framework. A bit of a mouth full but what it means is that we took a deep dive into this new development concept Salesforce released last year. In fact I might even say we developed within the new framework already while Salesforce was still developing it. Developing on a not fully done and tested system? Doesn’t sound like the best idea and it sure made things just a tad more difficult. But why choose the easy road when the difficult one is so much more rewarding.
It all started at Dreamforce 2014, where we were really taken by the way Salesforce was presenting their new Lightning technology. After we arrived back in Helsinki and shook off the jet-lag we started a pilot project. We thought, let’s see what this new technology can do and use it to build a minimum viable product of our application. This application had the core functionality of Fingertip: share a decision, propose it and give your stance. At this point we were quite amazed, to say the least. The application was very responsive, interactive and fast. One might even say lightning fast. Rarely we see marketing terms become real to such an extent. This totally got us sold on the whole Lightning idea and we decided it’s time for a deep dive.
At this point we need to mention that we have been developing our decision making application for four years. We have done extensive research with our customers and continuously improved the app. But we decided let’s take this as a chance to restructure and refactor our application. Let’s rethink the application using the Lightning Component Framework. We had seen the immense potential in this switch. Making this change would allow us to build a native, responsive and quick state-of the art application. Until this points, things were fine. Too fine.
In all honesty, the road was a bit more rocky than we expected, actually it wasn’t just a rocky road it was a little bit like climbing up a mountain without having a road. The initial challenge was the lack of content and help material around Lightning. But we just couldn’t wait to get started. We started to take a deeper look at the Aura framework, which basically is the technology that was built first to become the basis for the component framework. Too technical? Just think of building a house, you need a ground structure and framework, you need an architecture before you build it. But that tells you how early we were with our development.
Another big challenge was that the programming methodology had developed in such a different direction than the Visualforce pages that are used in Salesforce Classic. Our development team had to leave their comfort zone and enjoy learning something new.
Along with the methodology also the concept of building applications changed. This means that more and more of those components will be available as add-ons that customers can purchase to customize their Salesforce environment exactly how they want. They can even drag’n’drop these components with the help of the AppBuilder. But that also brought about certain implications that concern how different components can communicate with each other in a secure way with the help of LockerServices.
All in all we faced challenges when developing our application from Lightning Components and LockerServices but it also helped us to achieve our three main goals:
- We wanted to deliver a consumer app-like user experience to enterprise customers.
- We wanted to ease the high maintenance costs and paralysis of new feature development.
- We wanted to offer high customization capabilities for our customers.
We can now state that we have achieved these goals thanks to Salesforce Lightning.
Lightning helps us deliver amazing user experiences by unlocking the full potential of the Salesforce platform. Now, we use our Fingertip Heartbeat toolbox to build our cutting-edge decision making app that loads quickly, responds instantly, works from anywhere and feels superior.
We are happy to share our experiences at this year’s Dreamforce. Come and meet us either at the Lightning Lookout in Moscone Centre West (3rd floor) or in the Cloud Expo at booth #116 in Moscone Centre South. Or join us for our session at Dreamforce’16 on Tuesday October 4th at 1pm, Moscone West. If you want to be sure to meet, you can book a time for a meeting.