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The Salesforce JavaScript Development Era

When I started development with Salesforce close to a decade ago, s-controls were the only way to customize an application. You would write a bunch of JavaScript code that is highly complex to maintain whenever a customization was required.

Late 2008, early 2009; Salesforce introduced Apex and Visualforce technologies to the developer community which runs on top of the Force.com Platform. Which allowed S-Controls to be deprecated around Spring 2009 release.

With the introduction to Salesforce Lightning framework (as beta in Spring 2015), Salesforce re-introduced a JavaScript based development era. For those who don’t know what S-Controls are;

  • They were the technology before Visualforce
  • Light-weight web app runs on Salesforce and executed on the browser
  • Uses JavaScript to communicate to Salesforce
  • Used for adding UI components, write client-side workflows & to create/modify records

Why the future of Salesforce development is becoming JavaScript?

It is mainly due to Lightning framework. Lightning is a JavaScript framework. But this paradigm shift started several years back. Salesforce first provided the support for JQuery in Visualforce pages. Then the JavaScript REST toolkit was introduced (aka ForceTK). Which proxied JavaScript calls to Salesforce.

A couple years later Salesforce released JavaScript Remoting. This allowed you to call server-side methods in your Apex controllers directly from JavaScript. This was a huge game changer to the developer community allowing to write SPA (Single-Page Applications) by reducing/eliminating Visualforce view-state issues & performance issues.

And last but certainly not least, Salesforce introduced Salesforce1 Lightning Components. The Lightning Component framework is a UI framework for developing dynamic web apps for mobile and desktop devices. It’s a modern framework for building single-page applications.

To conclude, will JavaScript and Lightning components conquer Visualforce soon? Not at this stage, but possibly with time as it did to S-Controls.


Author: Tuan Abdeen, Salesforce Certified Domain Architect.