Saturday, December 24, 2005

Konfabulator & Salesforce: how hard could it be?

It started as a simple idea: make a widget for Konfabulator so that I could see my schedule in Salesforce, updated as often as I update in Salesforce. No, I am not a programmer, but armed with enthusiasm I waded in.

First stop: documentation. Have I mentioned how much I hate PDF files? They are bloated, hard to maneuver, and really only good for printing. Loading Yahoo’s guide crashed my Acrobat copy several times. Instead, I made do with the smaller Tutorial. Basically, widgets are collections of JavaScript: to access the JavaScript, you just drop the widget on the converter, and voila: files.

Ok, next stop: a scheduler widget. The Yahoo Day planner seemed up my alley: it reads your schedule from your choice of sources: Yahoo, Outlook, or an iCal file. Couldn’t be too hard to convert it to look at Salesforce, right?

Finally, was there anyone who had done a Salesforce widget before? Yes: a task oriented one, like this. Even he made it seemed simple.
Armed, I waded in. I was looking at the JavaScript, which kinda made sense. I understood the Salesforce API calls, which seemed to make sense. I converted the widget in question. I was ready. And then, I learned of the showstopper.

The API is only available to Enterprise users. My license is Professional. No API, no widget. Dead in the water.

At my company, we offer API access: we actually are considering making that the entry-level of access. Why? No work for us! Puts the onus of work on the client, and they can integrate with whatever resources they want. No additional impact to us. Why the heck would Salesforce want to restrict access to their API’s to higher-paying clients? I’m sure they have their reasons, but web-based applications are growing every day.

Heck, SugarCRM is even offered for free as open-source. Why not differentiate, by allowing a thriving community of third party people developing add-ons for your application, at no cost to you? Salesforce has clearly embraced that idea, with the AppExchange, but why not just open the doors up? Let Salesforce be the dial tone, and the 3rd parties make the new features?

Alas, my brief programming foray has come to a close. Someday, I hope someone changes things…I’ll work on it from my end.

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