This post covers new Winter’11 stuff called “Visual Process Manager—Pilot“, this feature seems super powerful, but somehow less discussed and marketed as of now. This might be because its just a pilot release ?
I said Visual process manager will be powerful, because it take the “point and click” configuration philosophy of force.com platform to next level. Its next level, because now business analysts and administrator (who are less of programmers) can quickly develop applications that will comprise of
Creation of screens with navigations
Ability to query Salesforce.com data, without any coding.
Ability to branch based on user data or input.
Plus ability to execute logic. Not clearly described, but hopefully this will allow Apex execution.
So with all these capablities in place, it seems easy for business analysts and admins to develop a “dynamic” application, without writing any code.
What to expect Visual Process Manager ?
Though no screenshots, details etc for Visual Process Manager are available in winter’11 release notes etc. But as it will be a BPM(Business Process Manager) application, we can expect something similar done by guys like BEA(Aqua Logic) or Savvion BPM Studio. These both applications give somehow the same abilities to develop biz flows on respective platforms. Developing flow is just like working in a paint brush application and drawing a flow chart. Here are few screen shots.
Bea Aqua Logic
Applications best for Visual Process Manager
As winter’11 release notes says, one can develop applications like
Call scripting in a customer-support center: Troubleshooting complex customer problems
Telesales: Call scripting, cross-selling, up-selling and dynamic generation of quotes in real-time
Insurance companies: Executing complex and dynamic insurance premium calculations
Though its too early to guess, what force.com is coming with Visual process manager. But applications not involving complex interface should be easy to develop. Though if flows, opens ability to plugin visualforce pages, just like ability to execute logic later on. Then complex interfaces should be easily possible.
Visual Process Manager will for sure help Business Analysts and Admins to quickly develop applications on force.com platform. On the other hand it might also hurt freelance apex/visualforce developers, as number of salesforce jobs for trivial or simple force.com screens will be for sure reduced.
Still too early to conclude more, let see what comes up. Visual process manager is not available by default, one has to request salesforce to enable it in their org.