You may have heard that Salesforce1 Lightning was announced at Dreamforce ’14. Truthfully, it may have been a bit confusing at first if you were following the development scene beforehand. That confusion may be compounded by the fact that the “Lightning” term seems to be thrown around all over the place. At the end of the day, Lightning is just a term used to described some new functionality. As per Salesforce’s article, “Lightning is the next generation of the Salesforce1 Platform.” It encompasses a large chunk of cool new tools used for extending the platform.
You may recall a post I originally wrote about Aura following Dreamforce ’13. The Lightning Framework is the rebrand of Aura on the platform. I said it in my original article, and I’ll say it again: this is the future. The Lightning Framework is step one of Salesforce’s plan to tie admins and developers into a seamless integration to provide amazing customized applications. The main selling point of the Lightning Framework is the usage of components. Components can be used programmatically to create Lightning apps, but they can also be pulled together declaratively using the Lightning App Builder. Expect more articles around Lightning components and apps soon. For more information, check out this great answer on the Salesforce StackExchange (also give it an upvote for being awesome)! Even more fantastic information can be found in the Lightning FAQ.
Step two on Salesforce’s path of tying together admins and developers was the addition of the Lightning App Builder. The Lightning App Builder is a new declarative tool for creating Lightning apps from a set of Lightning components. By creating the applications with a declarative tool, each page can be more customized to each individual org. It will make development faster and more specific. It is a revolutionary tool.
The Lightning Process Builder is like Workflow 2.0. There are a bunch of new actions available, including creating a new record, posting to Chatter, etc. It is the rebrand of Visual Workflow. Chris Edwards wrote a fantastic article about the Process Builder with some great information. Check it out for more information.
Lightning Schema Builder
The Schema Builder has been available for some time now. It provides a dynamic environment for viewing and modifying all the objects and relationships in your app. Lightning Schema Builder is the rebrand of Schema Builder. I haven’t had much time to do anything with the Lightning Schema Builder yet and unfortunately I haven’t found much information online, so it is unclear what is new with the rebrand from my perspective at this time.
You may have heard of External Objects before. External objects are similar to custom objects, except that they map to data located outside Salesforce. Lightning Connect is the rebrand of External Objects. If you are looking for a way to bring in external data from outside of the Salesforce platform (one way), this may be a great option going forward. If you need two way integration, check out Heroku Connect.
Lightning Community Builder
Salesforce Communities is the rebranded Salesforce Portal (this happened awhile ago). The Lightning Community Builder is a declarative tool for branding and customizing your Salesforce Community specific to your needs. Here is a good video from Dreamforce ’14 on the Community Builder. Scott Geosits also did a cool video on customizing and branding your Community. Check out both of those videos for more information.
Salesforce1 Lightning is the new set of tools becoming available to all developers and admins. In my mind, Lightning is introducing a new way of developing and an even closer connection between developers and admins. Administrators and implementation experts will be using the Lightning components developers build to make one of a kind Lightning apps for all customers. It will be interesting to see how the process works moving forward. ISVs may not be building fully fledged apps anymore, but components that implementation experts use to build apps specific to the needs of each individual customer. Consultants may be not be tasked with building large applications, but rather individual Lightning components. Development will be quicker, releases will be faster, and the platform will be more unique for each individual org than ever before. It is an interesting time to be a Salesforce developer. I am looking forward to the future.
Important Note: It is important to remember that this is my personal opinion. As with any opinion, it may or may not reflect the opinion of any organization I am associated with.