Salesforce aims to expand its developer ecosystem, fund enterprise cloud creators

At its first developer conference, Salesforce outlined plans to expand its ecosystem, simplify tools and bolster the talent market. Salesforce is also planning spend $50 million funding entrepreneurs.

Salesforce is planning to build out its developer tools to improve productivity, accelerate and expand its ecosystem for mobile apps. How? With an expanded developer training effort, some gamification, $50 million from Salesforce Ventures and an incubator for enterprise startups.

Along with its first TrailheaDX developer powwow, Salesforce is rolling out its new App Cloud that will combine various parts and platform services for mobile developers.

In addition, Salesforce is expanding its Trailhead developer learning program.

What's perhaps more notable is that Salesforce sees its developer efforts reaching beyond core coders. There are 2.8 million Salesforce developers that have built more than 5.5 million apps. AppExchange is the largest enterprise app store with more than 3,000 apps.

Brian Goldfarb, senior vice president of the Salesforce App Cloud, said "the demand for apps is more than what can be delivered." Goldfarb added that this labor gap could be closed by diversifying the developer base. Some developers were computer science majors or self-taught coders. Salesforce is hoping it can simplify tools enough to enable business users to build apps.

"We can take a wide approach to move beyond language, expertise and gender," he said.

Salesforce's developer efforts highlight how the company is aiming to become more of a platform for enterprise software. The primary route to enterprise software in companies will be via front end mobile apps. Salesforce, by connecting CRM, analytics, apps, Internet of things and other tools, is aiming to lock down its developer ecosystem and expand it.

Meanwhile, Salesforce has to keep ahead of the mobile app game as both SAP and IBM have forged enterprise deals with Apple, which already has a formidable developer base.

According to the company, the plan is to up its gamification efforts with "Superbadges," which can be used to highlight skills and enhance the talent marketplace. Salesforce highlighted Superbadges, which serve as a base to highlight development experience as well as skill levels reached. Superbadges are designed to reward developers who solved business challenges. The categories for Superbadges include Lighting Experience, Apex, Reports & Dashboards and Security.

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A look at Salesforce's Superbadges for developers.

Among the moving parts:

  • Salesforce outlined new developer tools to create app building blocks. Lightning LockerService, Lightning Inspector and Lightning Command Line Interface (CLI) are all designed to check code faster.
  • The company outlined new tools to revamp record and home pages and customize them to user profiles.
  • Apps can be built with components and pages with drag and drop tools.
  • Salesforce Ventures is creating a $50 million Lightning Fund to fund entrepreneurs building Salesforce apps.
  • The company also launched an incubator for Enterprise Cloud startups.