Salesforce this week announced an extension of the Salesforce1 PaaS with the addition of Lightning Components, a faster way to build apps by users who don't code (the AppBuilder); and the addition of a components section to the Salesforce Marketplace.
Here I'll analyze an excerpt of the the press release.
SAN FRANCISCO--July 28, 2015--Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), the Customer Success Platform and world's #1 CRM, today announced general availability of Salesforce1 Lightning Components and App Builder, allowing anyone to visually assemble apps with drag-and-drop ease using pre-built, reusable components. Salesforce also announced AppExchange for Components, expanding the world's leading marketplace for enterprise apps to include components developed by Salesforce and its partner ecosystem. AppExchange for Components is launching with the fifty components that have been most requested by customers. Salesforce customers like CROSSMARK, Ocado, and The Financial Times are using the new Salesforce1 Lightning tools to build apps for every part of their business.
MyPOV - This is a major step forward for the Salesforce1 platform, as it extends beyond users who know how to code to users that are 'reasonably technical' - but don't have programming skills. In Salesforce lingo, these are the Admins. The App Builder and the underlying components have the potential to make these users more independent of developers. Lowering the technical hurdle to build applications reduces the risk of 'lost in requirement translation' outcomes for IT projects. Apps built by Admins will benefit from the Admin's knowledge of end user requirements, resulting in more functional apps and a more functional enterprise.
● Lightning App Builder: Businesses no longer have to build apps from scratch. Using Lightning App Builder, anyone, not just developers, can draw from an extensive library of reusable, well-defined components to compose apps in a drag-and-drop visual interface. Salesforce components are pre-installed in the App Builder, and partner components can be integrated directly from the AppExchange for Components.
MyPOV - This is the key functionality of the release in my view. Lowering the technical skills required to build new applications will diminish the application challenge that Salesforce describes well. Expect some backlash as end users begin learning Lightning App Builder. However, end user empowerment will ultimately be the preferred route for business application development in the future.
My Overall POV
Making app development easier for more users is a good move for a PaaS company and its customers. In later phases we will likely hear complaints about 'crapware' and end user programming errors.
On the concern side, Salesforce has not (yet) shared details of any developments for the end user community - these are the people who will actually use the apps developed by the Lightning App Builder. This is something competitors have done for mobile app development (see e.g. Oracle, IBM and SAP). We'll be patient as that's the logical next step.
Salesforce will also have to address some ripples in the ecosystem - as lower value, easy custom work should disappear over time. But that was not scalable business for partners (and many freelancers) anyway, so the net effect is a lower TCO for customers - a good move by any standard.