Source Driven Development and Salesforce DX – How it Helps Developers

Salesforce has various tools to make things easier at various levels of business administration, which is the same in case of development too. As we discussed in another article in this series, Salesforce developers need not have to change their tools but can use the same approach and tools which they are used to. For example, you can use the same text editor with Salesforce Extensions or Salesforce CLI for the VS Code. If you use Salesforce Extensions, then it becomes easier to facilitate both developments as well as testing.

As an organization grows, business administrators and decision-makers at various levels start to experience different challenges in managing changes across the projects. Package development can address such challenges directly and give instant solutions to users. With the latest Salesforce DX, a packaged-based solution helps you to organize the source better to make things easier and more effective for the developers.

About Salesforce DX

Salesforce DX is actually a structured local directory for the metadata in the source format itself. It will let you to code and test simultaneously with Salesforce DX tools. It consists of configuration files also to create scratch orgs. This may contain data to get loaded on to the orgs and also contain the test cases which you could rely on to validate the packages.

While using Salesforce CLI for projects, it can automatically create a structured project directory for the users. While developing projects from scratch, there are many things created simultaneously. The primary thing is a project config file and then sample scratch definition files as well as directories for the tests as well as sample datasets. Some default package directories are also being created for the package sources.

A package is basically a collection of related codes and customizations. One can easily test a package by keeping it an independent entity from any other component in the org. You could also release the packages independently. Metadata components within the packages may also live in a single package at a time at the orgs. At a time, the project could manage the source for a single package. So, when multiple packages are built, tested, and released altogether, the users can organize these packages too into a single Salesforce DX project. Each of these packages could align into the package directory, which is defined in the project config file.

However, as discussed above, one starts to face many unforeseen challenges too, while the organization grows in coordinating the development projects as well as doing the projects across the platforms with the use of changesets. In such cases, the Salesforce DX package-based developmental methodologies could address such challenges more effectively. In source-driven development, the source is perfectly organized into different packages based on the group of features as well as customizations the developers want to deliver.

An ideal Salesforce DX development project, as initiated by Flosum.com, could reflect the package-based development model effectively. Salesforce DX is new and steadily growing, so in every possibility, we can expect more revolutionary developments too from the on the go to make the development experience more innovative and structured.

Tools of Salesforce DX

As we had seen, even when changing to the Salesforce DX platform, software developers could use the tools they are familiar with. The developers could still get a lot more benefits on using Salesforce DX, which puts forth a unique set of innovative tools and packages. Some of the major features which make things easier for developers are:

• Brand-new API
• User-friendly scratch orgs
• An environment hub
• A powerful CLI

Now, let’s look a bit more in-depth into it.

The brand-new APIs and CLI

Even though the developers can use their favorite APIs, Salesforce also offers some new APIs too to support the developers for gaining more efficiency with the Scratch Orgs. Using these will make it easier for the developers to integrate these features too into their workflow. All the old and new APIs are covered under a fresh CLI, which offers a significant upgrade in the development lifecycle. The developers can do anything from creating scripted deployments to working directly within the terminal on using the CLI.

Environment Hub

This is an advanced feature with Salesforce DX, almost similar to the Sandbox. However, there is a major difference between Sandboxes and Environment Hub, as the latter will let the users track all the orgs in use. While you enable the Environment Hub, it will further establish the org to a central management point alongside the other orgs. Uses in those orgs can also get permission to access the org and manage it.

Scratch Orgs

In a typical developmental environment, there can be many editions, each of which the developers need to keep for a while. Compared to this, Scratch Orgs comes up with a significant shift in the conventional approaches to development and testing. Unlike the temporary development and testing environments, we are previously used to, Scratch Orgs are much easier to provision and also made accessible to the users as developers, tester, and the administrators. It is a temporary environment that can be created and anytime and also could be destroyed once the task is over. These are made as JSON descriptor files to be kept for source control.

Along with these, Salesforce DX comes with many other delivery tools too. All these come together to make the development pipelines in-built as a part of Salesforce DX itself and leverage the benefits of the Heroku tooling. Once onto Salesforce DX and learning to use its advanced features, developers can cut down their development and testing time and effort to a significant percentage, which could further enhance their productivity as well as quality.

Introduced in 2016, the Salesforce DX development suite is still in its early stage of development, with many user-friendly features already added. So, in the coming years, we can surely expect more from Salesforce DX with constant upgrades and ongoing research happening at the backend. The challenges for application developers and testers keep on changing from time to time, and so the developmental methods and tools to be up-to-date with the market demand, which is one thing Salesforce is always striving for and succeed.

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