Initiated in 2005, Salesforce AppExchange is an online store of applications for the third-party apps which operate on the Force.com platform. There are three modes under which the apps are available: Free, monthly subscription, and yearly subscription. February 2015 saw AppExchange featuring over 2.5k applications with over 2 million installations.
For those who intend to develop an app on the AppExchange, it is important to remember that there are three types of apps.
- Integration-type: Where there is syncing of data between systems (like Constant Contact in Salesforce)
- Apps with augmented functionality: Where you can add features and functionalities to Salesforce (for instance: MyFax, EchoSign)
- Apps which stand as platform solutions bringing forth standalone business applications (like ServiceMax and Skoodat)
An application is essentially a matrix of configurations and codes which can be distributed. Data model personalization allows inclusion of objects and fields under validation rules. It is also possible to customize the UI using VisualForce elements, tabs, and page layouts. Using Apex classes and stimulants, you can also put in Custom Code. AppExchange also showcases workflows and reports with dashboard.
Following are the nine major steps to create an app using AppExchange:
Step I- Establish the Development Org
This will be the org utilized for developing your app and formulating the initial app-packages. In case you have not executed this before, then you can use free developer editions. It is ideal to build multiple dev orgs and apply them for development, trial runs, and assembling. Make sure you do not wait till the completion of the app development to get the orgs in place.
Step II- Salesforce.com Partnership
Salesforce has a robust Partner Ecosystem, and joining this system is one of the integral steps in the process. The Partner Portal will be the center of operations thereon. Check out the Partner Portal for more details.
Step III- Formulate Test Orgs
By becoming a Salesforce partner, you get the power to form a series of test orgs that can be used to try packages (on a trial basis) created in Dev Orgs (during Step I). You can check the various licenses and configuration models. Those who target Group and Professional users for the app must remember that this is a critical step. Through the Partner Portal, you can summon orgs inclusive of given licenses: Group, Enterprise, Non-Profit, Professional, Platform, and One-App. To procure a Test Org, log-in to the Partner Portal (Step II) and click on “Create a Test Org” (link or button). On the drop-down menu, choose the edition within which you wish to test and submit.
Step IV- Establish Partner Dev Org
The Partner Dev Org are more athletic versions of the regular dev orgs. Through this, you can stock and assemble the production-code (Managed-Released) and subsequently, generate upgrades and push-patches. Though one can go forward with the regular org during this step, it is preferable to select the wider org accessible as a partner. To secure a Partner Dev Org, log in to the Partner Portal, select the “Create a Test Org” (button/link) and then, shift to the “Partner Developer Edition” option available in the Edition drop-down. After creating a set of managed released package, run it through the Test Orgs (in Step III).
Step V- Sign Up for AppExchange Provider Profile
By creating an AppExchange Provider Profile, you will have the following capacities: listing and publication on AppExchange. After logging into your Partner Dev Org, follow the link which is showcased on the ‘Detail’ page of your latest package. Select “Start Publishing” (button) to sign-up for the AppExchange provider profile. Make sure you sync the profile to the Partner Portal (of Step II). The Username and Password for the AppExchange provider profile will be identical to the Partner Dev Org (of Step IV).
Step VI- Form AppExchange App Listing
After forming an AppExchange Provider Profile, visit the Publishing space to create a listing. A listing remains private unless it is qualified through security review. Under the private mode, the app has a link of AppExchange (shareable with potential customers). The link is not shown in public and in searches. Before sending the app for security pass, you need to have the publicity and marketing content developed and furnished. Since many of the fields are very precise (like image size of logo, length of a text), the private listing will have to be edited a few times before publishing.
Step VII- Send App for Review
Salesforce undertakes a security review for every app and decides whether it must go live and public. To enter your app for the security review, visit the private listing and select the “Offering” (tab). Under the “Your Uploaded Packages” space, choose the latest version of your app from the drop-down and press “Start Review” link within the packages table. Only those packages are shown in the drop-down which are Managed-Released. So, ensure that you have created one package prior to entering this step. After you submit the app for review, a case is included within the Partner Portal. You will be intimated through mail about the process. The average time for receiving a reply on the review is 7 weeks. Assuming you receive the security pass, you will have to pay the fees (approximately $300) and continue with the process.
Step VIII: Form Test Drive Org
The Test Drive Org allows your users to trial run your app before installation. When you set up the app, AppExchange will put up a Test Drive link. When a user clicks on it, he/she will enter the pre-configured developer edition as a read-only customer. In case your app requires the customer to enter or edit credentials, then you can skip this step and move to the next one.
In order to establish a Test Drive, visit the “Offering” (tab) on the app listing (Step VI). Find the “Test Drive” space and select the “Create Test Drive” link. This will require you to formulate demo-data and configure the app after the org is established. Keep in consideration that the admin username for new org is user@.demo. After the test drive org is in place, you can visit the “Test Drive” space (within the “Offering” section) and add the org (using read-only user verification: eval@.demo).
Step IX: Set up Lead Management Org
In case you do not have ISVForce partnership, Salesforce will still permit you to regulate your leads. But this will require you to get a Salesforce org for managing the leads through AppExchange. The costs incurred will include the license cost as well. Any basic Salesforce Org (not dev org) which has been enabled for web-to-lead can be linked. As a replacement for the License Management Application accessible under ISVForce partnership, a non-partner can make use of custom objects and fields for regulation of licenses. The AppExchange listing can also be linked to the Salesforce org. This will involve going to the ‘Leads’ on the app listing (Step VI) and selecting the “Change Organization” link.
After your app gets through the security review procedure of Step VII, your app will be public on the AppExchange. The most popular apps on AppExchange today include Adobe EchoSign, Cirrus Insight, Conga Composer, Clicktools, and DialSource.
Salesforce reached a three-million downloads benchmark, and this fact stands as the testimony to the muscular app-building platform of Salesforce.
Have you created your app using Salesforce? Leave your comment below.
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