What is Salesforce DX?
Salesforce DX, or SFDX, is a set of software development tools that lets developers build, test and ship many kinds of applications on the Salesforce Platform. Development team members can also collaborate using SFDX and follow Agile development principles to deliver high quality products continuously.
SFDX is a set of low-code software development tools for the Salesforce Platform. These include the following:
- Version control systems (VCS).
- Command-line interface (CLI)
- Visual Studio Code.
- Lightning Web Components developer tools.
The toolset is open and flexible so anyone can use it to develop applications for the Salesforce Platform. The platform itself is low code so it's easy to adopt and use. It also helps accelerate development and release cycles using SFDX tools.
The Salesforce Platform and SFDX tools also support DevOps processes and provide secure test environments. This helps developers quickly develop and confidently test a wide range of new applications. Many Salesforce partners have built DX functionality into their own DevOps solutions, making DX workflows widely available to Salesforce developers.
Benefits of Salesforce DX
The unique selling point of SFDX is that it enables easy, open, integrated and collaborative software development on the Salesforce Platform. The toolset is ideal for high-performance agile development environments. It supports an integrated, end-to-end software development life cycle (SDLC) for individual developers and development teams.
SFDX is all about package-based, source-driven development. This means that it shifts the source of truth from the org to a VCS, such as the Git repository. Dev teams can easily implement version control during development using SFDX tools to get more visibility into code changes and maintain integrity.
Developers can also adopt the DevOps approach to speed up development and improve the quality of the final product. This approach allows for automated testing processes to save time and more frequent releases with continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD).
Another benefit of SFDX is that it lets teams and organizations organize their metadata and distribute apps using a source-driven, CLI-centric approach. This same approach also lets them automate and easily manage the end-to-end SDLC.
Finally, SFDX provides a dependency API that enables dev teams to understand and handle the dependencies between metadata. Running a query on the API will reveal which components reference other components, simplifying development and reducing the possibility of coding errors.
Main tools in Salesforce DX
Salesforce DX includes many user-friendly development tools. These are described below:
Git and GitHub
SFDX shifts the source of truth to a VCS. One of the most popular VCS in use today is GitHub. GitHub can easily integrate with SFDX to help streamline the entire SDLC. It hosts Git repositories, which handle version control, and provides numerous features that help dev team members collaborate as they apply and test code changes.
GitHub provides an accessible and single source of truth for all shared work, ensuring that everyone works in a transparent environment where code integrity is maintained. In addition, it supports CI/CD integrations to test, build and deploy software projects based on specifications stored in the repository. These integrations help accelerate development and minimize the need for manual testing.
A frequently used tool in Salesforce DX is Salesforce CLI. This tool provides a text-based interface that lets developers execute scripts, create directories, and interact with other tools to build source-driven applications or CI integrations.
Salesforce CLI is built around open APIs and can be easily integrated into any developer workflow to perform many types of complex actions. It can also be customized with plugins and packages to create a tailored development workspace.
In Salesforce DX, a scratch org is a source-driven, fully configurable, disposable environment for development and automated testing. Dev teams can use this environment to emulate a Salesforce org with different features and preferences. Scratch orgs are also temporary, meaning they can be created from scratch (hence the name) and deleted or allowed to expire when no longer required. That said, developers must enable a permanent org as a DevHub to create and manage scratch orgs. When spinning up a new scratch org (which can be done from the CLI or from inside the UI of a DevOps solution), they have the flexibility to specify its lifespan, shape and enabled features.
Visual Studio (VS) Code and integrated development environment (IDE)
VS Code provides a comprehensive and user-friendly IDE with a code editor, build automation tools, a debugger, and intelligent code completion capabilities. The lightweight, extensible IDE is ideal for working with SFDX. Open APIs can be used to integrate the IDE with SFDX. The tools for developing on the Salesforce platform in the VS Code editor are part of the Salesforce Extension pack.
It's easy for developers to work with files in the IDE due to an improved metadata format. With this new format, complex metadata types are broken down into manageable subcomponents. It also reduces the likelihood of merge conflicts that can slow down development and introduce errors when incorporating code changes.
Second-generation packaging in Salesforce DX
Packaging provides developers with a way to distribute a developed app to end customers or users. It refers to packaging metadata, a process that prevents the creation of an unstructured org that is difficult to manage. The metadata and Salesforce components will be packaged into logical units and hosted in Salesforce AppExchange. This makes version control the only source of truth and enables developers to use the packaged components to create apps. Developers can also create unlocked packages in the organization's DevHub as well as set up a sandbox to install the packages and versions of the developed application.
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