If you’re in the process of choosing a customer relationship management system, or you’re already working with Salesforce, you know that this is a giant in the world of cloud-based CRM. It’s been picking up steam like there’s no tomorrow, reshaping the way businesses reach out to and connect with their customers. And as we’ve stepped into 2023, it’s crystal clear that the Salesforce wave isn’t dying down anytime soon.
Now, for those business owners, executive managers, developers, or employees of Salesforce development companies inclined to simplify the development process and ensure better performance and functionality of the CRM, going in with just your coding chops might leave you treading water. It’s high time we acknowledged the importance of having a toolkit at our fingertips. Let’s face it: in the vast expanse of Salesforce, tools don’t just help you get by—they let you shine.
Basics of Salesforce Development
Getting your head around Salesforce is akin to learning a new language, where the key components and their interactions form the grammar. So, let’s dive in and break down the nuts and bolts of Salesforce.
- Apex is an object-oriented programming language tailored exclusively for Salesforce. Whether you aim to write triggers to respond to data changes or create robust web services, Apex has your back. One thing to bear in mind, though — since it’s proprietary, it might throw you a curveball if you’re coming straight from Java or C#. But, with a little elbow grease, mastering Apex can open doors to powerful customization.
- Visualforce: Visualforce is a framework that lets developers pull out all the stops when crafting bespoke user interfaces within Salesforce. It’s all about giving you the leeway to fine-tune every pixel on your Salesforce pages, ensuring they fit like a glove with your brand and user requirements. And with its tag-based markup language, it’s not just about beauty—Visualforce is about ensuring functionality doesn’t take a back seat.
- Drawing from modern web standards, Lightning Web Components (LWC) allows developers to piece together UI components that don’t just look the part—they truly deliver in terms of performance. If you’re looking to strike a balance between native and web, ensuring your Salesforce apps stand head and shoulders above the rest, LWC should be right up your alley.
A crucial takeaway here is the interplay between these components. While each has its strengths, the real magic happens when you seamlessly weave them together, building applications that not only address complex business needs but also provide users with a top-notch experience. And, let’s face it—while raw skill is invaluable, having the right toolkit to back you up can make the difference between a project that’s par for the course and one that truly sets the world on fire.
9 Best Salesforce Development Tools
Here are some valuable tools to improve the process of Salesforce development and the final result:
The Salesforce Developer Experience (SFDX), or simply “DX,” is a set of tools created to enhance the development experience. Salesforce unveiled a number of new and enhanced tools, APIs, and functionalities as part of DX. The purpose of all of these tools is to make package-based, source-driven development easier. Some of the tools are:
- The Salesforce CLI. The Force.com migration tool built on Ant was replaced by the Salesforce command-line interface (CLI). It includes commands for pushing and retrieving metadata to and from orgs, converting metadata to SFDX format, and handling other DX capabilities. It has all the capabilities of Ant and more.
- Second-Generation Packaging (2GP). In contrast to 1GP, version control, not a packaging org, serves as the authoritative source for package metadata in 2GP. These bundles are also known as unlocked bundles. Use unlocked packages if your team decides to pursue the packaging way so you can adhere to a best practice DevOps approach with version control.
- DevHub and the Scratch Orgs. Scratch orgs are temporary organizations that may be formed as a new environment when starting from scratch, destroyed, or allowed to expire. Scratch organizations only last for 30 days, but you may select an even shorter lifespan when creating a new one. You need to activate a permanent org, often Production, as a DevHub in order to build and manage scratch orgs. Both the CLI and the UI of a DevOps system may be used to construct Scratch orgs.
It is the most straightforward user interface (UI)-based, comprehensive end-to-end salesforce release management tool with a wide range of connectivity with various third-party products. The whole development lifecycle, including component merging, version control, deployments, code analysis, user story management, and regression testing, is handled.
It is ideal for healthcare and financial sectors since Flosum’s Native DevOps technology ensures that all data always remains safely within the Salesforce platform. Flosum is the only solution permitted for usage on the public cloud.
Illuminated Cloud 2
It’s super slick with its auto-completion feature. Not only does it help speed things up for you, but if there’s an error in your code, the tool spots it and even gives suggestions on how to fix it, thanks to its refactoring capabilities.
And if you’re juggling between standard and Salesforce DX development formats, Illuminated Cloud has got your back with full support for both. It should be mentioned that it’s tied in with JetBrains’ IDEs. That means you get some top-notch web app development features, seamless version control, and really solid task management and bug-tracking integrations.
Copado is a cloud-based platform that offers DevOps and release management Salesforce tools. It provides various solutions for dealing with the full application development lifecycle, from and creation through testing, deployment, and release.
Copado Plan ensures the transformation of epics and user stories into tangible, production-ready software. With the help of this potent application, teams can effectively manage their activities and processes. Some of the features it includes are Kanban boards, Agile dashboards, Sprint walls, and Work Manager.
Copado Test is a solution for end-to-end testing, improving code quality and obviating the requirement for protracted alpha testing. It provides support for a variety of testing approaches, including Selenium, manual test scripts, pull requests, static code analysis, and Apex tests.
Another valuable instrument here is the Copado Release. It’s the fundamental hub for essential release management features. It seamlessly combines User Stories, Metadata Rollbacks, and Environment Branches to provide a consolidated and reliable source of metadata.
A client program called Data Loader is used to import or export data in bulk. Data Loader reads, extracts, and loads information from database connections or comma-separated values (CSV) files when importing data. Salesforce suggests using Data Loader in two different ways:
- As a user interface: define field mappings that translate field names in your import file to field names in Salesforce, provide configuration settings, and CSV files used for import and export.
- As a command line: provide the settings, data sources, mappings, and actions in files. You may configure Data Loader for automatic processing using the command line.
A Salesforce DevOps and deployment solution called Gearset was created to assist administrators and engineers in streamlining their development procedures and ensuring the integrity of their Salesforce code.
It offers a variety of capabilities, like automated testing, continuous integration, and version control, that let teams automate their development workflow. Teams can evaluate their progress and spot possible problems early on with the use of reporting and monitoring options.
Users who want to compare and deploy changes between Salesforce environments, from development to testing or from testing to production, can do it quickly and efficiently using Gearset.
This is a Salesforce DevOps solution for org-based development scenarios. It is made up of a collection of robust, user-friendly, and script-friendly CLI commands that offer all the capabilities required to create, manage, automate, and run a comprehensive Salesforce DevOps process. You are able to:
- Manually run OrgFlow commands at a terminal to carry out Salesforce DevOps chores;
- Create scripts from those commands using your preferred scripting languages and tools;
- Automate your DevOps process by triggering scripts on your preferred CI/CD platform depending on deadlines or triggers;
- Integrate a variety of well-known tools and services with your DevOps workflow.
Clayton.io automates code review, analyzes code changes in real time, and interfaces with CI/CD processes.
Developers may easily conduct code reviews and get comments on their work thanks to its integration with well-known version control systems like GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab. Additionally, the platform offers developers immediate feedback and tips for enhancing code quality, allowing them to make changes quickly.
CumulusCI is an awesome tool designed to help Salesforce admins and devs with the whole shebang: creating, testing, and rolling out Salesforce apps. You can automate even the trickiest development workflows with its command-line goodies and that snazzy declarative YAML config language.
The best part is that it syncs up nicely with popular version control systems like GitHub and GitLab. And if you’re into Agile or Continuous Delivery, CumulusCI can work with it.
You may be surprised how customizable it is. You can tweak CumulusCI to fit just how you like it. Plus, there’s this bustling community of users and contributors always working to make it better and ready to lend a hand through forums and docs. Worth checking out, right?
According to Marketsplash, 150,000 organizations worldwide use Salesforce, and its adaptation keeps growing. This means that the demand for Salesforce development services will be in demand. While the list of development tools is extensive, it will likely grow further. So, your task as a business owner, manager, or developer is to monitor these releases and promptly adopt the solutions suitable for your projects.
About the Author
Art Malkovich is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Onilab, a full-service eCommerce agency. Being an experienced developer and project manager, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in headless commerce, online store development and migration, SaaS, and UX/UI design.