We are excited to announce our latest low-code app development tool on the Salesforce Lightning Platform, the new Lightning Object Creator. Lightning Object Creator is a new platform service that boosts productivity by allowing any employee to quickly turn spreadsheets — such as Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Quip Spreadsheets, and comma-separated value (.csv) files — into modern, cloud-based apps with just a few clicks. Lightning Object Creator is currently in pilot and will be made generally available in the first half of 2019.

Lightning Object Creator opens up a broad set of use cases for offline processes currently built on spreadsheets that can be transformed into modern cloud applications. For example:

  • A car dealership can take the spreadsheets that are created from paper-based test drive forms (which capture prospect information, car makes, models, and preferences) and turn it into a new digital process that's connected to CRM data like search, notes, files, and follow-up activities.
  • A marketing team can take a spreadsheet that manually tracks marketing assets (including theme, format, location, date, and distribution location) and turn it into an interactive asset tracker that is customizable, automated, and able to drive insights through dashboards and reporting.
  • A human resources team can convert a spreadsheet that tracks volunteer activities into a volunteer matching application that can drive employee participation, increase social impact, and raise the profile of corporate social responsibility at a company.

The Value of a Custom Object

If Lightning Object Creator is all about building apps, why do we call it an “object creator”? What exactly is a Custom Object on the Salesforce Lightning Platform?

To get started, it's easy to think of a Custom Object as a very special kind of spreadsheet that helps customize applications to fit the needs of a business. It has rows (records) and columns (fields) just like a traditional spreadsheet. But there is so much more to a Custom Object than just a spreadsheet.

First of all, it is a cloud-hosted application, which means that Salesforce handles all of the underlying infrastructure. This includes things such as a focus on customer success and trust, and a secure, multi-tenant infrastructure that scales for every single customer around the world.

At the same time, Lighting Platform is a full low-code platform that empowers everyone to build apps fast, with each object supporting:

  • Collaboration, with a social feed built into every object
  • Instant mobility, with simple deployment across desktop and mobile devices
  • A configurable UI, including interface elements such as buttons, links, and actions, so that different users can have different, personalized experiences based on their business requirements
  • An open API, enabling integration and automation
  • Workflow and triggers, automating core business process execution with ease
  • Identity management and security, protecting access and providing role-based access controls
  • Pre-built reports and dashboards, adding business insights in from the start
  • Activity tracking and field history, enabling additional insight, control, and compliance
  • Global search, so end users can find what they are looking for
  • Custom relationships, letting you easily associate different objects via different relationship types for added value

The Low Code Revolution

At Salesforce, we believe that building apps is everyone's business. By empowering business users to participate in the app building process, we increase the pool of talent, bring problem-solving closer to the lines of business that need support, and reduce time to market.

A recent IDC white paper reported a 545% ROI over five years for customers doing development on the Lightning Platform, with a six month payback period. By leveraging low-code capabilities, customers reported a 5.8X increase in features developed by business users and a 63% faster app lifecycle. One customer reported, “The democratization of development is the most significant benefit of using the Lightning Platform.”

When spreadsheets are converted into custom objects on the Lightning Platform, they can instantly be configured, connected, and deployed via a powerful set of builder tools, including:

  • Lighting App Builder, allows you to configure the UI, combine multiple objects, and instantly deploy news apps based on custom objects
  • Lightning Process Builder, allows you to define business processes with clicks — not code — that automate business processes and connected actions in new custom applications
  • Lightning Schema Builder, allows you to define custom relationships between data, whether they are related objects or parent/child relationships
  • Lightning Components from AppExchange, allow you to easily drop in pre-built functionality from the Salesforce ecosystem to accelerate your time to value

To make it even easier to build apps fast with clicks, there is a tight integration between Lightning App Builder and Lighting Object Creator, so that citizen developers can instantly configure their new custom apps off of imported spreadsheets.

Salesforce + Google Cloud

With Lightning Object Creator, we are expanding our integrations with Google Cloud, building on our partnership announced last year.

Google Sheets will be one of the primary applications supported by the new Lightning Object Creator, allowing G Suite customers to easily build strategic business applications on the Salesforce Lightning Platform combining data from Sheets with Salesforce CRM data.

This new capability complements the new Data Connector for Salesforce, built by Google and announced at Google Cloud Next 2018. The Data Connector for Salesforce allows business users to easily create Google Sheets based off of records and reports coming from Salesforce or make changes to Salesforce directly from Sheets.

The third integration in this area, Google Sheets for Salesforce, will allow you to connect your Salesforce List Views instantly to Google Sheets, work fluidly across our products, and gather data insights quickly. Look for more exciting updates about this feature in the coming months.

If you have already registered, we look forward to seeing you at Dreamforce '18, September 25-28 in San Francisco, CA, where you can learn more about this new capability and see it in action. Or you can join us online at Salesforce Live to watch our product keynotes, including the “Lightning Platform Keynote” on Tuesday, September 25 at 1 p.m. PDT and the “Salesforce for Admins Keynote” on Tuesday at 11 a.m. PDT.