I think the big news about Summer ’07, Salesforce.com’s latest release, has to be the general availability of Apex code. The language that Salesforce.com announced last winter is now ready for prime time according to the company which plans an August official release.
You have to salute the company’s savvy marketing; they’ve gotten great mileage out of the pre-announcement, the announcement of the announcement, the announcement and so on. They never miss a chance to get some free advertising but just as remarkable is the face that they always make their dates — no extensions for these guys.
So what’s so special about Apex? Well, nothing really except that it’s part of a development suite that enables companies to build applications from scratch for just about any in-house or commercial need. Remember all those spreadsheet tracking systems you once got along with? Gone. Don’t need them any more. In the time it takes to build something crude in Excel you can build something that looks and acts like software.
More importantly, with a real application you can do things like generate reports, run analytics, add intelligent workflow (another feature of Summer ’07) and much more. If you like you can also take the product to market and sell it on the AppExchange. It’s what they once used to call long tail applications for the fact that things that exist out in the long right hand tail of a Bell Curve never saw the light of day. For those applications Excel was a blessing but the days of Excel based applications are nearing the end of the line.