New Salesforce.com Features for Developers - Internet Creations Blog

New Salesforce.com Features for Developers

Hello, everyone. I’m Scott, a Salesforce developer here at Internet Creations. I am going to be posting about the world of Apex, Visualforce, and all things coding. I figure we would start off by looking at what’s ahead for SFDC in the upcoming Winter ’12 release.

We saw some of the new Winter ’12 features announced at Dreamforce a few weeks ago, but now that we finally have the release notes in our hands, we can take a good look at everything we can expect to be using in the very near future.

Here are the features that I am looking forward to the most in the next release:

Force.com Developer Console

I might be a little biased being a developer and all, but this is best news I have heard from SFDC in a while. In fact, this got the biggest applause from the audience for any announcement I got to see at Dreamforce.

I remember that when I first started developing on the platform, I found the lack of debugging tools very disappointing. After years of using Eclipse and Firebug to debug Java and JavaScript by using breakpoints, watch lists, and line-by-line step throughs, I was now left with nothing more than a System.debug() function writing to a very long (and often very confusing) debug log. It felt like I was developing JavaScript for IE6 all over again!

But that is just the nature of cloud computing. When you are executing the code on a server far away, and you are sharing that machine with many, many other people, you are not going to be able to tell the machine to hold on for a bit while you take a look at some null pointer exception. So you have to let the program run and then try to make sense of the output afterwards.

The new Force.com Developer Console will not directly solve this problem. You still have to run all the lines of code to full completion, and then analyze the result after its done. However, there will now be a lot more ways to analyze that information come Winter ’12 than just outputting to the System.debug() function. In fact, there will be so much information logged away that you will be able to simulate a line-by-line code step through as if you were pausing the code yourself.

How helpful will these new debugging tools be in practice? Well, we will just have to try them out to find out. But anything that SFDC can do to make my job easier is a very welcomed addition to me.

JSON Support

Everyone who does web development these days is familiar with AJAX, or Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, but I believe that the acronym needs to be updated to AJAJ. XML is so last season. JSON is the new hotness, and all the cool devs are using it.

Now SFDC will provide the tools for you to easily integrate JSON into your code. This will make using JavaScript and Apex Remote Actions much easier for creating all those fancy looking Web 2.0 applications on the platform

Chatter Messages

This came up a lot when we were developing our upcoming gift exchange app. If a user has a Chatter Free license and is unable to view Visualforce pages, how will they know what their secret gift recipient is without blurting it out to the rest of the group? In comes Chatter Message, the way to send private messages between users.

Chatter Massages finally becomes GA with Winter ’12, and developers will get the ChatterMessage and ChatterConversation standard object to play around with for coding. Hopefully we’ll be able to implement this feature into our gift exchange app before the holidays this year.

I will dive deeper into all these features and more once we get our hands on the new release. So stay tuned for more posts about Force.com development.