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Get Started with the Salesforce Platform

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Define the Salesforce platform.
  • Describe the kinds of apps you can build with the platform.
  • Install the DreamHouse app.

Meet the Salesforce Platform

At Salesforce, we group our services by clouds. There’s Sales Cloud for CRM, Service Cloud for customer support, and a handful of other clouds that help companies support their business functions. And while each of these clouds serves a unique purpose, there’s one thing they all have in common: the power of the Salesforce platform.

What is the Salesforce platform, exactly?

Like any platform, the Salesforce platform is a group of technologies that supports the development of other technologies on top of it. What makes it unique is that the platform supports not only all the Salesforce clouds, but it also supports custom functionality built by our customers and partners. This functionality ranges from simple page layouts to full-scale applications.

If you’re here today, we’re assuming you know a bit about software development. Throughout this module, we’re going to give you an overview of development on the Salesforce platform. We talk about some of the pillars of Salesforce development and how they work together to create a robust system. We even touch on some common questions that developers new to the platform run into as they get started.

Before we continue, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. If you’re brand new to Salesforce and you haven’t completed the Salesforce Platform Basics module, we suggest you do that before you keep reading.

Once you’re done with that, you’re ready to get started!

Platform Building Blocks

As we mentioned, the platform not only forms the foundation of core Salesforce products like Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, but it also lets you build your own functionality. Building your own functionality can mean customizing existing Salesforce offerings or it can mean building something from scratch.

Let’s focus on that latter part and talk about what the Salesforce platform offers developers.

Our core platform lets you develop custom data models and applications for desktop and mobile. And with the platform behind your development, you can build robust systems at a rapid pace.

And then there’s the Heroku platform. Heroku gives developers the power to build highly scalable web apps and back-end services using Python, Ruby, Go, and more. It also provides database tools to sync seamlessly with data from Salesforce.

And then there’s the host of Salesforce APIs. These let developers integrate and connect all their enterprise data, networks, and identity information.

And then there’s the Mobile SDK. The Mobile SDK is a suite of technologies that lets you build native, HTML5, and hybrid apps that have the same reliability and security as the Salesforce app.

And then... wait. Let’s stop for a second.

The problem with the platform and all its parts is that listing them out takes a really long time. And just talking about them doesn’t help you understand everything they do. Let’s take a different approach and talk about what we can do with the platform. Or, more precisely, what we can build with it.

The DreamHouse App

Let’s float a scenario. Throughout the rest of this module, we use this scenario to explore the many exciting tools and technologies that the Salesforce platform provides.

You’re a developer for DreamHouse Realty, a company that aggregates real estate listings to better connect homebuyers and real estate agents. Your boss asks you to build a new system to track real estate listings. Your internal employees will use it to track and communicate about properties. Your partner real estate brokers will use it to access information about customers. And your customers will view properties and contact brokers for viewings.

DreamHouse Realty logo

Building an app like this one from scratch isn’t an easy thing to do. Taking on this project in real life can involve a long, complicated list of functional requirements and the implementation of special integrations for your company’s business data. Working by yourself, it can take you months to get something out the door.

But before your stress builds and you melt into a puddle of existential dread, remember: You’ve got the platform. And building complex business applications at a breakneck pace is what the platform’s all about.

We’re going to show you a fully functional version of the DreamHouse app so you can get a feel for how it was built. As we move through, we discuss important Salesforce development concepts using the app to guide us.

Install the DreamHouse App

To follow along and practice the steps in this module, you need to install the DreamHouse package in your Trailhead Playground. Follow the instructions here to launch a playground and install the package. You also use this package and playground when it’s time to complete the hands-on challenge.
Note

Note

If Internet Explorer is your browser of choice, it’s time to move to Plan B. Some features of the DreamHouse app aren’t fully supported in Internet Explorer, so switch over to your next favorite browser for the rest of this module.

Launch your Trailhead Playground by scrolling to the bottom of this page and clicking Launch. If you see a tab in your org labeled Install a Package, great. Follow the steps below.

If not, from the App Launcher (App Launcher icon), find and select Playground Starter and follow the steps. If you don’t see the Playground Starter app, copy this package installation link and check out Install a Package or App to Complete a Trailhead Challenge on Trailhead Help.

  1. Click the Install a Package tab.
  2. Paste 04tB00000009UeX into the field.
  3. Click Install.
  4. Select Install for All Users, then click Install.

We go through some of the pieces of this app through the module, but feel free to take a look around before you move on.