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Salesforce.com's incredible disappearing act will continue next week the announcement of its latest platform and tools initiative to target developers.

Silicon Valley's on-demand poster child will kick off its annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco, California, by unveiling a hosted development environment that lets ISVs build applications on its AppExchange market minus the usual Salesforce.com branding.

Called Force.com, and due in 2008, the environment consists of the Visualforce interface to build and customize UIs. Visualforce will contain components and tools for developers to build and customize interfaces and UI behaviors and use HMTL, Flash, AJAX and Salesforce.com's own Apex language.

Squeezing out the news ahead of Dreamforce, Salesforce.com called Force.com its most important release to date, because it enables developers to build the interface they want for any situation.

Adam Gross, vice president of developer marketing, said tactfully that Force.com would "ease the branding woes of current developers".

Translated, that means developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) packing out Salesforce.com's AppExchange marketplace are getting tired of having their benefactor's logo and branding in their customers' faces, when their own could be there.

No doubt, ISVs will also welcome greater freedom to customize their software to the customer's needs, and the ability to make hosted applications resemble the interfaces of more-familiar on-site software or existing offerings.

Force.com is Salesforce.com's latest withdrawal from the public-facing side tof ApexExchange and its platform service. In April Salesforce.com announced Platform Edition, which lets users install and customize AppExchange applications but without the company's trademark CRM elements. That followed the similar AppExchange OEM Edition last year.

The editions enable users to tap Salesforce.com platform's underlying data model, security architecture, interface, version tracking capabilities and meta-data.

As with Force.com, Platform Edition and OEM Edition have been designed to turn Salesforce.com into a provider of hosted business applications by going into areas of companies that don't use CRM. ®

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