How to Build an App for Salesforce AppExchange

May 16, 2024
9 min

Did you know you can maximize your Salesforce investment and generate more revenue by building your own application for the AppExchange marketplace?

Having reigned as a supreme software marketplace for many years, AppExchange opens the door to millions of active Salesforce users ready to install specific apps for their businesses and invest in Salesforce app development. And this is a win-win. You build and support a solution that covers business needs for you – and your prospects.

This guide will walk you through the Salesforce AppExchange development process step by step: from joining the Partner Community to building your own exceptional app and launching it on AppExchange.

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What is AppExchange App Development Process

The AppExchange App Development process is a set of steps developers follow to create and release applications on Salesforce’s AppExchange marketplace. The process involves planning, design, development, testing, security review, release, marketing, and ongoing support.

Salesforce AppExchange is an app marketplace with thousands of applications of different categories, solution types, and packages. Here independent software vendors (ISVs) list and release applications, and Salesforce users install them.



How to Build an App for Salesforce AppExchange?

As we mentioned earlier, building your AppExchange app is a multi-step process that includes not only Salesforce application development, but also compliance, security reviews, release and ongoing support.

In this passage, we’ll introduce a step-by-step guide on secure, scalable, and profitable Salesforce app development process.

Step 1: Become a Part of the Salesforce Partner Community

The first step to becoming a Salesforce AppExchange Partner is joining the Salesforce Partner Community. For this, you must submit a form on Appexchange.

Salesforce Partner Community is a hub for existing AppExchange Partners and those looking to join the AppExchange Partner Program. You can discover multiple resources and collaboration forums, get advice on your listings and solutions, attend webinars, and learn best practices.

Step 2. Examine AppExchange Market

AppExchange offers a wide range of products and solutions for various Salesforce clouds and products. Market analysis helps you explore competitors’ feature sets, functionality, and pricing. For optimal research results, use AppExchange’s curated collections, which comprise listings selected by AppExchange specialists and are a convenient way to locate the top solutions across various domains.

Step 3: Make the First Sketches of Your Product

After your research of existing solutions on AppExchange is done, start defining the unique value proposition of your product, as well as its key features. For this, outline:

  • Composition of your target audience (whether large enterprise customers, mid-size, or small) and what problems your product will solve
  • Your business targets (including how much and when you must sell to achieve success)
  • Types of Salesforce editions you will support (such as Professional, Enterprise, or Unlimited). Three editions imply different levels of functionality, at different prices.
  • Package type (AppExchange offers two package types on the platform – unmanaged and managed packages. Managed packages are upgradeable and distributed with a license, whereas unmanaged packages offer open solutions which, after installation, are not upgradable)
  • Salesforce licenses you want to use
  • Requirements for your AppExchange app security.

Of course, this plan might change by the time you start the Salesforce app development process, but before that, you will at least have a clear direction to follow and a rough roadmap for your product.

Step 4: Define the Type of ISV Partnership and the Type of Your AppExchange Solution

Once you’ve joined Salesforce Partner Community, analyzed existing products, and created a rough roadmap, you need to define the type of your ISV partnership and, consequently, the AppExchange solution you will build. There are 7 types of ISV Partners:

ISV Partner Type descriptions and requirements

ISV Partner Types: Descriptions and Requirements

The categorization of Salesforce AppExchange applications, on the other hand, can be summarized into four primary directions: Bolt Solutions, Flow Solutions, Lightning Data, and Components. Each category has a different auditory and requires a different level of knowledge.

  • Bolt Solutions are pre-designed and pre-built templates that can be easily deployed on Salesforce. Bolt solutions are built by an ecosystem of partners, and contain industry process flows, apps, Lightning components, and Communities, all integrated seamlessly with the Salesforce platform.
  • Flow Solutions are determined as a collection of integrations and business processes built by partners to simplify flow creation and actions on third-party systems without requiring additional integration or code. Flow solutions accelerate automation. Examples of Flow solutions are accepting a credit card payment, conducting a credit check, checking the weather forecast, and adding a video player.
  • Lightning Data is pre-integrated data that has real-time updates and enrichment. Lightning data connects Salesforce org with third-party data that is fed into the system through the Lightning Data Engine, powering critical sales and marketing processes.
  • Components serve as building blocks for creating apps, Bold solutions and custom pages in Lightning. Components are reusable and responsive; they contain all of the code they need to run, so you can reuse them in other apps and pages.

If selecting the appropriate Salesforce app type seems challenging, and you aim for a smooth and efficient development process, consulting with Salesforce experts such as the Ascendix team may provide the necessary guidance and support.

Step 5: Choose the Programming Type and Tools to Build Your Salesforce App

Salesforce offers two types of programming languages and tools you can use to build an AppExchange app: programmatic and declarative.

Declarative tools (clicks) are a part of declarative programming that allows you to build applications based on business rules and logic instead of writing code. Simply put, declarative tools require understanding of concepts but no coding knowledge. Using clicks–not code simplifies the app creation process and management of existing data for non-developers.

Programmatic tools (codes) require coding skills but allow developers to exceed the limits of declarative capabilities. Programmatic tools include:

  • Apex, Salesforce’s cloud-based programming language which is syntactically similar to Java or C#. Apex is fully integrated into the Salesforce platform and allows developers to work with Salesforce data and features safely and fast. Also, Apex allows you to implement the integration with third-party services, which can help your app extend its possibilities.
  • Lightning Components – a JavaScript framework for building reusable components. These components can render UI, handle client-side events, and communicate with the Salesforce server. You can use these components to develop and enhance apps.
  • Visualforce, a tag-based markup language similar to HTML, for building UI pages and components. Like Lightning Web Components, it enables the creation of objects and user actions. It is also compatible with third-party libraries like jQuery and AngularJS. However, Visualforce is an old technology, and we recommend using it in specific cases.

Step 6. Build Your Salesforce App

After identifying the appropriate type of solution, the required programming language, packaging, and licensing, start the  Salesforce application developmen process. There are two ways to go about it: using your internal resources or outsourcing dedicated team.

Building Salesforce App using in-house team can be a viable option if you have enough resources to take control over the full AppExchange product lifecycle.

On the contrary, hiring a dedicated team of AppExchange app developers for Salesforce application development ensures your solution stands out from the competition and delivers maximum value to your users. Not only do dedicated experts guide you through the development process, but they also take control over app testing, release management, support, marketing and further configurations.

Hire AppExchange Developers from Ascendix

We’ve helped multiple small businesses and large companies optimize Salesforce and adapt it to their teams’ need.

Step 7. Test Your Salesforce App

To ensure optimal performance for all potential users of your application, it’s important to conduct comprehensive end-to-end testing in specialized environments and adhere to development best practices for testing.

Both manual and automated testing should be employed to detect and resolve any bugs or errors that may arise. We recommend utilizing Salesforce Platform’s testing tools to scan for bugs and other potential issues.

Step 8. Prepare Your App for the Launch on AppExchange

Once you have tested and finalized the app, the next step is to prepare it for submission to the Salesforce AppExchange. This process entails creating managed packages and providing screenshots, a concise and descriptive overview of the app’s features, a demo video, and supplementary documentation such as user guides and FAQs.

Step 9. Submit Your Salesforce App for Security Review and Market It

To be publicly listed on AppExchange, your solution must first undergo a security review and meet the necessary security requirements. It is important that you are patient during this process, as the review can take 3-5 months.

During the AppExchange security review, the security posture of your solution is tested to determine how effectively it protects customer data. This process also helps to identify potential security vulnerabilities that hackers, malware, or other threats may pose.

You can prepare the software code for the submission using the following 2 automatic tools and 1 approach:

  • Source Code Scanner allows users to schedule scans, access scan reports, and manage scan credits for their organizations
  • Chimera Scanner, a cloud-based service that can be utilized to scan third-party websites
  • Salesforce Partners have the option to schedule office hours with the AppExchange Security Engineers and Security Review Operations team to discuss any concerns related to security of AppExchange application.

Once you’ve checked and reviewed the code, you need to submit the solution for security review to Salesforce team.

The Salesforce security review teams evaluate your solution using threat-modeling profiles that are based on common web vulnerabilities. They attempt to penetrate the defenses implemented in your solution to extract or modify data they do not have permission to access, mimicking the actions of security threats.

Once your app is approved, launch it on AppExchange and start marketing it to Salesforce users.

That’s a general overview of the steps in building an app for Salesforce AppExchange. Keep in mind that the actual Salesforce app development process may vary depending on the specific tools and technologies you use, as well as the complexity of your app.

Entrust AppExchange App Dev to Us

Ascendix is a team with solid experience in AppExchange app development. We own a family of AppExchange solutions and know all ins and outs of this process.

Potential Revenue from Salesforce AppExchange Development

The potential revenue from Salesforce AppExchange Development can depend on various factors, such as the app’s quality, the size of the target market, the price of the app, and the marketing strategy used.

Anyway, it is still a lucrative opportunity for developers and ISVs (Independent Software Vendor).

According to Salesforce, AppExchange partners earn an average of 3x of their investment in building an app. AppExchange also gives developers the significant advantage of having direct access to a vast network of Salesforce customers and prospects. Once an app is listed on the AppExchange marketplace, it can be easily discovered and adopted by Salesforce users, potentially generating significant revenue.

The revenue from Salesforce AppExchange Development comes from a variety of sources, such as:

  • Subscription fees: Many apps on AppExchange charge a monthly or annual subscription fee. The subscription fee can be based on the number of users, features, or usage.
  • Licensing fees: Some apps on AppExchange charge a one-time licensing fee. This fee can be based on the number of users or the level of functionality.
  • Consulting fees: Some developers offer consulting services to help their customers with implementation, customization, and integration.
  • Revenue share: In some cases, developers can generate revenue by sharing a percentage of the revenue generated by their app with Salesforce.

Overall, the potential revenue from Salesforce AppExchange Development can be significant, especially for high-quality apps that solve unique business problems and address unmet needs in the market.

Why Choosing Asсendix as AppExchange App Development Partner

There are several reasons why you might consider choosing Asсendix Technologies as your AppExchange App Development partner:

  • Experience

Asсendix Technologies has extensive experience developing custom Salesforce applications for various industries and use cases. We have been a Salesforce AppExchange partner since 2012 and have successfully delivered 500+ projects.

  • Expertise

Our team comprises certified Salesforce AppExchange developers and consultants with expertise in various Salesforce technologies, including Apex, Lightning, and Salesforce APIs. A great number of certifications allow us to offer solid knowledge in a range of development services, such as: preparing your app for Salesforce Security Review, building new functionality, upgrading, bug fixing of your existing AppExchange apps, AppExchange listing launch and optimization, deployment of managed packages in Salesforce, consulting on becoming an ISV or OEM partner for Salesforce, app UI/UX design, testing, and code review, and support.

  • Customer-focused approach

We place a strong emphasis the unique needs and goals of our clients. Our team works closely with clients throughout the Salesforce app development process to ensure that the final product meets their expectations and delivers real value to their business.

  • Collaborative partnership

As an experienced Salesforce AppExchange development company, we believe in long-term relationships with our clients. We work collaboratively with our clients to ensure they are involved in every step of the development process, from planning and design to testing and deployment.

  • End-to-end services

Our team provides end-to-end services for Salesforce AppExchange App Development, including planning, design, Salesforce app development, testing, deployment, and release management. It means we can handle all aspects of the Salesforce AppExchange development process, ensuring a seamless and efficient experience for our clients.

If you are looking for a reliable and experienced Salesforce AppExchange App Development partner, Ascendix is a great choice. Contact us and let’s start the cooperation.

FAQs About Salesforce App Development

Can You Build Apps With Salesforce?

Yes, Salesforce offers powerful tools and resources for building custom applications. The Salesforce platform provides a range of development options, including low-code and pro-code solutions, enabling developers to create apps tailored to specific business needs. Whether it’s through Salesforce App Cloud, Salesforce Lightning Platform, or Salesforce DX (Developer Experience), developers can build, customize, and deploy applications that integrate seamlessly with the Salesforce ecosystem.

Ascendix as a Salesforce AppExchange development company, offers a full-cycle development process and support for your apps. If you’re interested to learn more, feel free to book a free call.

What Is Salesforce App Development?

Salesforce app development refers to the process of creating custom applications using the Salesforce platform. This development can be done using various tools and approaches provided by Salesforce, including low-code development with tools like Salesforce App Builder and declarative development with point-and-click configuration. Developers can also utilize pro-code development with languages like Apex (similar to Java) and Visualforce (a markup language similar to HTML) for more advanced customization.

Is Salesforce a Development Tool?

Salesforce is more than just a development tool; it’s a comprehensive cloud-based platform that offers a variety of development tools and resources for building custom applications and solutions. Salesforce provides a range of tools and services for app development, including:

  • Salesforce App Cloud: A platform for building, deploying, and managing custom applications and integrations.
  • Salesforce Lightning: A component-based framework for building modern and responsive user interfaces.
  • Apex: A proprietary programming language used for building custom business logic and extending the functionality of Salesforce.
  • Visualforce: A markup language for building custom user interfaces and pages within Salesforce.
  • Salesforce DX: A set of development tools and practices designed to streamline the development lifecycle, including source-driven development, version control, and continuous integration.
  • Heroku: A cloud platform that allows developers to build, deploy, and scale applications using popular programming languages and frameworks.


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