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Salesforce.com broadens Apex to Web 2.0

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Software as a Service (SaaS) pioneer salesforce.com plans to expand its Apex development platform to embrace the emerging world of enterprise Web 2.0 applications.

Following the acquisition of Web 2.0 tool developer Koral last month and this week's announcement of of Apex Content, salesforce.com's chief technology officer Adam Gross says Apex will offer a "seamless" development environment for on-demand enterprise applications.

"The original Apex platform was aimed at applications which use structured data. But with Apex Content, you will be able to handle unstructured data in the same environment and through the same API. We will be integrating the Koral technology and carrying out additional work to add to the developer experience."

Launched at the end of 2006, the Apex platform has proved popular with developers and Gross says 50 per cent of the traffic on salesforce.com's network is now through Apex: "We are more a SOAP/XML provider than a website provider now," he notes.

The Koral tools include features to build Web 2.0 functions such as tagging and content rating into enterprise applications running on the Apex platform. Woodson Martin, vice president of product development at salesforce.com is reluctant to reveal a delivery date for the expanded Apex platform and tools, but expects them to be in place "this year".

"Our approach to development means we don't like to give too much away on delivery dates and it is important we get this right to give developers the best possible experience."

Martin goes on to say that the open design of Apex also means that tool development is likely to be a continuing process with third party developers adding to the technology as Web 2.0 concepts grow.

"The Apex platform is highly extensible and you can create tools to handle any type of data and meta data. Our core strategy is to provide an open platform which developers can build on."

One interesting direction for Apex is its use as a project development and management tool. Gross says salesforce.com already uses it to help manage its software development and others are taking it up too. "The Bay area chip designer Magma Design Automation has built a set of applications on Apex to manage its development projects and other customers are doing similar work." ®

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