Salesforce Goes All In on JavaScript for Lightning Web Components

In a bid to make its Lightning software more accessible to a broader range of developers, Salesforce announces that developers can now use the popular Web development language JavaScript to create Lightning Web Components.

JavaScript

Companies interested in doing more with Lightning, the Salesforce application framework that underpins its customer relationship management platform, suddenly have a lot more options. On Dec. 13, Salesforce.com announced plans to let developers use JavaScript to create Lightning Web Components.

Previously, Lightning developers were limited to Salesforce’s own, less widely used Aura programming model to build Lightning Components.

Salesforce officials said when Lightning was launched five years ago it used the modular Aura to promote a component model because there was no clear standard for building large-scale client-side applications for the Web. Since then, JavaScript has emerged as a clear winner.

“One of the core technologies powering the internet is JavaScript, which is used in 95 percent of the websites out there and IDC estimates there are 7 million JavaScript developers,” Anne DelSanto, executive vice president and general manager for Platform at Salesforce, told eWEEK. “At the same time, there’s a massive shortage of developers in the U.S., with over 250,000 jobs unfilled, and that lack of talent slows innovation. We want to make sure we are empowering companies to leverage existing skills without having to train for specific languages. The ability to tap this rich pool of developers is a huge benefit to companies.”

IDC analyst Arnal Dayaratna said Salesforce made a smart move to harness the skills of the abundant number of JavaScript developers. “In tandem with that, they’re providing a solution that caters to application development for the Web and which is increasingly important today,” Dayaratna, research director for software development at IDC, told eWEEK.

Aura and JavaScript Components Work Together

Salesforce said Lightning Components built with Aura will work alongside Lightning Web Components and don’t have to be rebuilt or adapted. General availability is set for next February as part of Salesforce’s major Spring ’19 release of new software. DelSanto said JavaScript for Lightning Web Components has already had an extensive pilot with customers, and the response has been positive.

There is no limit on the kinds of Web components developers might want to create using Lightning Web Components. Jacob Lehrbaum, vice president of developer relations at Salesforce, said one example might be a lookup function to check your credit score and mortgage rates at a real estate site.

“We call these experience components,” Lehrbaum told eWEEK. “Developers also get 70 base components like sliders so they can build these apps faster with less code, and then build and configure pages through point-and-click tools.”

He also noted that Salesforce has made some basic JavaScript training tools available on its free Trailhead gamified learning system.

Analyst Dayaratna said this latest move by Salesforce supporting JavaScript is part of a trend he’s seeing where the CRM giant focuses more on application development. “Traditionally it’s not been an app dev company, but we’re seeing this intensification of effort to get there that they’re enhancing with these low-code tools. At IDC, we are expecting significant growth in the next several years in the low-code and no-code app dev space.”

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...