Salesforce opens up programming platform

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Salesforce opens up programming platform

Apex system lets users develop customised services.

Salesforce has further opened up its programming platform, allowing users to enhance and change the way the online customer relationship management application functions.

The Apex programming language is already used for Saleforce's hosted CRM, but previously wasn't available to outside developers. The language is scheduled for release in mid-2007.

It will allow users to change the way buttons, searches, and even entire services within Salesforce, the company's chief executive Marc Benioff said at the Dreamforce 06 convention in San Francisco.

"You could almost say what we had up to this point is configuration, but what customers are really asking for is to build anything on demand without boundaries," said Benioff.

The Apex announcement build on Salesforce's AppExchange which the company unveiled one year ago. AppExchange enables third party developers to build software that interacts with the Salesforce application.

With Apex, users will have access to programming tools that will allow them to change the way the site itself behaves, among things allowing for customized search procedures or buttons that categorize information in a specific way.

Apex is being marketed by Salesforce as both an online language and platform. All code written in Apex will be able to run on Salesforce's Winter 07 system as well as future versions.

All of the Apex content will be hosted on Salesforce servers and will be available to users through AppExchange. Salesforce hopes that this will drive collaboration and innovation with Apex, as well as give users an incentive to move away from in house IT development and the large operating costs that come with it.

"Everything can run in our data centres, everything can be shared," Benioff told delegates.

"We'll let you handle the innovation, and we'll handle the infrastructure."

In order to support Apex, as well as encourage development, the company also announced what it calls "AppExchange Incubators." The centers will allow for developers to rent office space in a building that will house Salesforce professionals and provide access to seminars and tutorial sessions designed to help start-ups.

The first AppExchange Incubator, scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2007, is located in the former headquarters of Salesforce's once-rival Siebel Systems in Silcion Valley.

Siebel Systems last year was acquired by Oracle. The company pioneered the CRM space, but later lost its momentum to Salesforce.
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