The Basics of Salesforce DX
Salesforce’s clicks-not-code interface led the platform to becoming an incredibly popular option for people that didn’t have extensive coding experience. It opened the world of application development up and made it more accessible.
However, there are some developers that want to expand upon the capabilities of the platform, and that’s where Salesforce DX comes in.
Salesforce DX is a series of development tools available in the Salesforce App Cloud that affords the ability to develop applications in a more efficient manner.
So how do you know which development environment is right for your company?
Exploring the basics of Salesforce DX will provide the context you need to decide if the tool is right for your needs and skill level when it comes to your DevOps pipeline.
What Is Salesforce DX?
We mentioned earlier that Salesforce DX is a development tool offer in the App Cloud. But what functionalities does it afford? Basically, it allows developers to integrate existing functionalities into a source-driven environment.
This means that Salesforce DX offers a centralized source control system to assist multi-developer teams from constantly shifting the source of truth.
The source of truth is a common location where team members can find configurations and the main code repository for building an application. This helps to minimize code overwrites and allows for feature testing in separate environments that won’t affect the product as a whole.
Salesforce DX also offers unlocked packages, which offer more features to simplify the management of org changes. The environment can be customized through integration of DevOps tools to further streamline your Salesforce development pipeline.
Benefits of Salesforce DX
Source-driven development makes it much easier for development teams to test new features and functionalities. This supports the development team and enables them to confidently introduce new features, creating an environment more conducive to productivity.
Salesforce DX supports development teams and increase the average time to market for an application.
Developers currently using Salesforce Lightning, Force.com, and Heroku can continue to use familiar tools and integrate their efforts within Salesforce DX. This flexibility makes it easier for developers to feel comfortable and focus on building the best products possible.
Salesforce DX is very conducive to working with tools such as continuous integration and continuous delivery. Introducing automation into your DevOps pipeline creates higher quality code and increases ROI.
Challenges of Salesforce DX
Salesforce DX offers a lot in the way of benefits, but like any other tool, there are some potential downsides. It’s best to be aware of all the concerns when trying to decide if Salesforce DX is right for you.
Here are a few potential issues:
- Salesforce DX has been on the market for a little less than three years. And while it’s not a new offering, there are still some bugs and issues with the functionality that are seen by developers.
- Developers that aren’t familiar with the interface might have some problems getting used to the functionality of Salesforce DX
- Users have reported problems trying to troubleshoot their issues.
- Administrators have had problems due to use of command prompts.
- Salesforce DX doesn’t offer all the DevOps tools many developers have come to rely on for streamlined operations.
Some of these issues can be addressed through integrating specifically designed DevOps tools and practices. We’ll dig deeper into these available tools a little further down.
Features of Salesforce DX
Salesforce DX offers a series of powerful tools that assist DevOps teams create an optimized pipeline. These tools are scalable to your individual needs and are aimed at creating a development environment that suits your needs. Here are a few of the options you have with Salesforce DX.
Salesforce Command Line Interface (CLI) helps increase development speeds. It works with open APIs to easily integrate within your existing workflow. CLI is the driver for Illuminated Cloud, Welkin Suite, and Visual Studio Code extensions.
Scratch orgs are fully configurable, source-driven, disposable development environments that can be used to emulate Salesforce orgs. These can be used for automated testing and application development.
Version control systems allow multi-developer teams to shift the source of truth and enable collaboration through modern technologies such as Git.
Managed packages allow developers to bundle metadata and distribute apps as they adopt a source-driven approach. This helps automate and manage the complete application lifecycle and distribute apps.
Integrating DevOps Tools with Salesforce DX
The benefits of Salesforce DX can be augmented through the implementation of an Automated Release Management system.
The tools that support a standard Salesforce development pipeline can also be utilized within the Salesforce DX environment.
AutoRABIT allows developers to utilize a more user-friendly interface than what is offered through the CLI. This graphical interface makes it easier to find what you are looking for and complete your work in the correct location.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery are essential aspects of an optimized DevOps pipeline, and they can be introduced to a Salesforce DX environment as well. Automated testing ensures your updates operate as your developers intended.
Managing deployments when working with multiple sandboxes can become difficult. Automated Release Management simplifies this process to reduce errors and further increase your time to market.
Is Salesforce DX Right for You?
Salesforce DX isn’t going to be a good fit for every development team. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to decide if implementing Salesforce DX would be beneficial for your team.
How long have you been coding in Salesforce?
Newer Salesforce users will be better suited to dive into Salesforce DX. Large systems of data and years of well-worn habits will be more difficult to transition to a new system.
How familiar is your team with CLI?
Becoming familiar with CLI is perhaps the greatest hurdle for new Salesforce DX users. Many developers will already be familiar with this environment which means it won’t be an issue. Less experienced coders, however, might struggle with the switch to Salesforce DX.
Do you utilize DevOps tools and processes?
Source control, continuous integration and continuous delivery, and other DevOps tools will help your team increase efficiency and productivity. Teams that already utilize these tools might not have a lot to gain from making the switch to Salesforce DX.
However, if your Salesforce instance is new, your developers are experienced, and optimized systems are not already in place, Salesforce DX can offer some great benefits to you and your team.