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RupRup 

Re: salesforce.com on the Mac ? a sync-to-OnDemand app on mydreamapp.com

Just posted on mydreamapp.com.
Mac users, and OSX (Tiger, Leopard) lovers, look out !


STOD is Sync to OnDemand


On-demand (hosted) web services are great : you may be using one professionnally, or may also be a Web 2.0 service-addict for your own personal use. They have numerous advantages : hosted, usually good/excellent availability, you always have the latest version, free or low monthly subscription, no installation on your site, no maintenance on your site, no hardware on your site, etc.

However, they do have their drawbacks :
. online : you need to be online to use these services, except for those which offer a sync feature
. performance (speed) : although it is usually very good for a web site, it is low compared to local client applications running on your own Mac
. usability : although Web 2.0 has much improved (vs. HTML) user interaction possibilities with web sites, you are still stuck in a very basic user interface limited by your browser(s) capabilities and the web-page concept; this is much, much less nice than your usual applications on your Mac.

So, just imagine if you could join the great advantages of on-demand services with the perfect (no less !) usability, power, beauty of your Mac desktop : you have a STOD app (sync to on-demand).
This is a sync engine which sucks the data from your favorite on-demand service(s) onto you personal Mac, syncs them with .Mac on the way to give you access on all your different home/work/play Macs. It is delivered with CRUDL (create, read, update, delete, link) user-interface consoles tuned for the specific service you usually use online, but with the best design of a Mac user-interface. Imagine a Mac app designed like Delicious Library or iSale, but for your favorite on-demand web service !


Here is my rating for my idea vs. the MyDreamApp competition's criteria :

A) Innovation and Creativity : ***** (5/5)
This has never been done. I have been waiting for this app for 2 years, and not seen anyone mention anything like it. That is why I have started prototyping it, spending most of my time looking out for the technologies (now available) to implement it with.

B) Use of OS X and Leopard technologies : ****. (4.5/5)
Integrated with many desktop mac applictions, STOD apps will also rely on lower-level Tiger and Leopard technologies like Spotlight, CoreData, TimeMachine, etc.

C) Feasibility of Development : ****. (4.5/5)
This has already been prototyped - more in future posts

D) Mass-Market Appeal : ***** (5/5)
I hope STOD apps (for business on-demand services) will simply be the Trojan Horse we have been waiting for to introduce the Mac massively into the entreprise.


Look out for future posts detailing each feature.


Beyond bringing valuable on-demand services right to your Mac, the STOD concept is the door open to a stream of Mac apps working locally with seamlessly-synced business services data and turns those service platforms into an extension of the Mac and its .Mac/iDisk sync model.

Message Edited by Rup on 08-30-2006 08:00 AM

adamgadamg
Very interesting!  I know a developer who might be interesting in working on something like that :smileywink:
RupRup
Here are more details, copied from my recent post at mydreamapp.com :


So just imagine, now, having salesforce.com on your Mac.

You can use already the salesforce.com OnDemand service online ?
That's true, but here are the drawbacks :
. online : precisely, you have to be online to use salesforce.com
. speed : the reactivity of your web browser, through the internet, is much less good than any Mac app you are used to using locally
. usability : any Mac app, with great user interfaces and integration with your other Mac desktop applications, will be more usable, sexy and productive than salesforce.com through your web browser, even with the best Ajax UI (which salesforce.com does not have).

So what exactly will macForce offer ?


Feature 1 : sync your data between the OnDemand salesforce.com platform and your Mac, locally

You now have all your salesforce.com on your Mac; you can walk away from the net, use the data offline, and sync it back later on. Data is mapped to the MacOSX data model thanks to the introspection features of the salesforce.com API : Accounts and Contacts mapped to AddressBook addresses, Tasks and Events mapped to iCal, Documents stored in the Finder as files, etc.
Are you getting it now ?  You will be able to read, update, create, delete and link all this data offline, on your own Mac, and those actions will be reflected, after the next sync, in salesforce.com
You use several salesforce.com accounts ?  That's OK, macForce will tag your data with your salesforce.com userid, and store your passwords in KeyChain, if you want.
On MacOSX Server, this sync engine will run as a service : that means it will just run on its own, without your assistance - the same is true for the MacOSX client platform, of course.
Just like any sync service, conflicts will be managed and resolved. macForce will used the Mac's SynServices; there is a difficulty here, which is discovering how the "server" value of Client Description type is managed ...
Data is stored locally in a CoreData database. The sync engine will be extended with engine-plugins, developed by third-party partners, to connect to other OnDemand services. They will also be able to develop data-plugins to sync your own salesforce.com custom data objects (e.g. pulled in from the AppExchange).


Feature 2 : macForce integrated with Spotlight

This is not as straightforward as it seems, since Spotlight does not search databases (currently), but only searches file metadata. Depending on the advances of Spotlight in Leopard, we will either implement this feature rather like Delicious Library (i.e. create a small file for each salesforce.com object), or use the hoped-for Leopard feature of Spotlight for CoreData databases.
An API will be standardized around this service, in the first case, so that any Mac developer can developer his own local Mac application to handle your salesforce.com data on the Mac !  In the second case, the API will be simple Leopard CoreData+Spotlight : what could be more simple ?
So just imagine searching through your heap of salesforce.com contacts : they are all there; find them in Spotlight, in Mail, in AddressBook, etc.


Feature 3 : macForce integrates salesforce.com with the Mac

There is currently no Mac client for salesforce.com, because they provide a client component based on .Net which does not run on our favorite platform. No worries; with macForce, you will be using Mac apps !
Send an SMS to a salesforce.com contact from AddressBook; fix a meeting with him in iCal; send him an email and add it to his current Opprotunity from within Mail.app - all this on your Mac, offline : it will all sync up to the salesforce.com OnDemand service later on. macForce will be integrated with Skype for IP-calls, Gmail for storage if necessary, Google Maps and Earth for locations, Growl for notifications, etc., etc. Your imagination is the limit, your data is now on your Mac with macForce.


Feature 4 : macForce comes with its own Mac client apps

(sync) engines are nice, but Mac user interfaces are much nicer. macForce comes with its own client applications for you to update your own salesforce.com data on your Mac : a Sales and a Support console. These are designed like iSale or Delicious Library, and integrate all the possible operations on your standard salesforce.com data : Opportunity, Product, Solution, Contract, Campaign, as well as Document in Finder, Account and Contact in AB, Task and Event in iCal.
Your favorite Mac developer will also be able to add specific plugins into macForce to develop the perfect GUI (graphical user interface) to handle your own custom data from salesforce.com.


Feature 5 : macForce syncs your salesforce.com data with .Mac

A second sync engine keeps all your data synced with .Mac : your Accounts and Contacts data will sync with the rest of your AddressBook data, salesforce.com Events and Tasks will go with your iCal data, salesforce.com Documents (files) will go on iDisk, and all the rest will be synced as a new SalesForce.com data class in .Mac

So now, you can access all that business data from all your Macs : at home, at work, on your MacBook pro you want to take to the beach, etc.


Finally, a bit about this competition. How will judges evaluate macForce ?


A) Innovation and Creativity : ***** (5/5)?

This has never been done. I have been waiting for this app for 2 years, and not seen anyone mention anything like it. That is why I have started prototyping it, spending most of my time looking out for the technologies (now available) to implement it with.


B) Use of OS X and Leopard technologies : ****. (4.5/5)

Integrated with many desktop mac applictions, macForce will also rely on lower-level Tiger and Leopard technologies like Spotlight, CoreData, TimeMachine, etc.


C) Feasibility of Development : ****. (4.5/5)

This has already been prototyped - e.g. for calling the salesforce.com API, have a look at ActiveSalesforce which I run with client-only RubyOnRails.

D) Mass-Market Appeal : ***** (5/5)

I hope that macForce will simply be the Trojan Horse we have been waiting for to introduce the Mac massively into the entreprise : that is what I have been waiting for for 2 years now.


Beyond bringing valuable on-demand services right to your Mac, the "sync to on-demand" concept of macForce is the door open to a stream of Mac apps working locally with seamlessly-synced business services data and turns the salesforce.com service platform into an extension of the Mac and its .Mac/iDisk sync model.

Message Edited by Rup on 08-30-2006 08:00 AM

Message Edited by Rup on 08-30-2006 08:09 AM

RupRup
If you think that this is a good idea, please say so on the mydreamapp.com forum here.

If you would like this idea to be developed, please vote to support this idea on mydreamapp.com : public voting should start around 1/2 september.

Thanks for your support.

Message Edited by Rup on 08-30-2006 08:01 AM

RupRup
Maybe that person could contact me, or contribute to the idea on the mydreamapp.com forum here.

Thanks.
thinkxthinkx
Hmm.. I am currently developing on a Macintosh, and I am developing an offline/online tool.. but I dont see a real market for this kind of functionality. After all, Safari is well supported, and so is FireFox. BTW, I noticed most presenter at the various events I have been to are using PowerBooks running OSX, and using Java, PHP, etc. to demonstrate development techniques. Contact me offline to chat further malam@thinkx.com.
RupRup
"Market for this functionality" ?

thinkxx, maybe you do not know salesforce.com : it is a great online business service, also very integrated with Windows (Office, Outlook, etc.). Unfortunately, nothing is available for the Mac. In the business sphere, macForce would be a great opportunity to get the mac into the enterprise, because this app will provide usability and performances unavailable for current online users and for PC client app-users.


"Safari is well supported" ?

Unfortunately not, for salesforce.com. Safari is not among the supported browsers, although salesforce.com works quite well for most of the screens; but when you reach into the more "advanced" features, Safari drops out.
Mind you, there is no problem using Firefox, for example, except that I find it usually too slow, vs. Safari.