Blog 04 August 2020

Salesforce Lightning and Liberty Create – How do they compare?

by Richard Farrell


Here’s the latest in my series of blog posts comparing Liberty Create with some of the other major low-code platforms in the market. I would be interested to hear your thoughts so please feel free to contact us below. This time, I’m looking at Salesforce Lightning.


Salesforce has grown massively as a cloud-based CRM solution over the years. Its expansion has been helped by a huge partner network that has extended the platform with add-ons and utilities and by extensions for customers that aid their own customisation. It’s no wonder then that Salesforce should make the move into low-code platforms to help customers build their own applications quickly on the Salesforce platform. Salesforce developed a broad set of capabilities for enterprise customers to build apps on their cloud platform. It’s slightly ironic that for many years their marketing push for cloud was centred on “no software” – now I guess that means ‘nothing but cloud software’.

The Salesforce approach uses two distinct platforms for building different types of apps. The Lightning Platform lets you build internal employee productivity apps only. Salesforce also own Heroku (under the App Cloud label) a high-control Cloud Application platform that can be used for B2B/B2C apps using traditional coding techniques. It requires you to code – Salesforce’s marketing often obscures this distinction but it is important to understand.

Lightning – is it the next level of faster, simpler CRM?

Focusing on the Lightning Platform first, these limitations are significant. It is the perfect example of a CRM tool that has morphed into a low-code platform when the term became fashionable. Generally customers talk about using Lightning as a way to create Salesforce apps, as opposed to web apps. Essentially building custom components for the CRM platform’s web interface. What’s important here is they are only designed to reach internal users. The majority of apps we see built on low-code platforms need to reach customers, suppliers and other stakeholders and for those, an alternative will need to be sought. Given most enterprises buy Salesforce first for their CRM needs, even if you could, you wouldn’t want to open that up to third parties and the licensing costs alone would be prohibitive. Many organisations are looking at the cloud to manage rapid changes in customer service and support.

Partners drive functionality

Much of the functionality on the platform is provided by partners, with the benefits of a wide variety of add-ons and plugins and the downside of unpredictable support offerings.

Heroku – reaches external users, but you have to code

Heroku on the other hand, does let you build apps that can reach external users. But it requires you to code. Apps can be built using languages including Ruby, Node.js, Java, Python, Clojure, Scala, Go and PHP. Heroku doesn’t offer visual development techniques but rather traditional coding to build apps. It has extensive deployment controls using GitHub and Docker containers.

Using a traditional coding language approach disqualifies business users from using the tool. Pro developers with specialist skills are required and they come at no small cost. Unfortunately, this eliminates one of the key benefits of low-code; the ability for business and IT to collaborate when building apps. Because only pro developers can use the tool, the chance to clear the app backlog with the help of business developers is lost. And business users, who have the greater appreciation of what makes great customer experience are kept out of the loop. In addition, Heroku does little to assist with ongoing software maintenance which makes up the majority of an app’s cost over its multi-year lifecycle.

Liberty Create – how does it stack up?

The Create approach is very different to Salesforce. Rather than two platforms, a single unified approach provides all the functionality required. The ability to design, build, test, deploy and maintain apps is all provided in an easy-to-use platform that builds on the low-code principles of developing apps faster, easier and at a lower-cost.

Create is designed for both business users and IT to work together to deliver new digital-first processes. Business teams bring their understanding of the processes that need to be automated and build those into the apps themselves. Create offers IT the control needed to extend the low-code platform for users and bring their experience of security, deployment and governance to the table. Create therefore enables both simple and more complex apps targeted at both internal and external users, addressing the needs of the organisation with a great customer experience (CX).

You can find full details of Liberty Create here including the specifics of the Build Studio, Code Studio and Test Studio. Create really does offer a complete low-code solution whereas Salesforce offer a collection of development tools built for their cloud platform. Whilst they may have speeded up app development, it’s really hard to think of the Salesforce platform as a genuine low-code solution.

In summary

Salesforce and Create both offer development platforms that deliver for enterprises although the approaches taken are quite different. Salesforce builds on its presence within an organisation for CRM to go further and offer software development capabilities for its cloud platform.

Create’s low-code platform focuses on making software development fast, simple and easy so that business and IT can work together to deliver apps that innovate and transform the way business is conducted.

Liberty Create


Chief Innovation Officer

German-born, Simpsons-obsessed and with a not-so-secret penchant for Welsh techno, Richard is Netcall’s long-serving CIO – he’s been with us for an impressive 19 years, meaning he’s somewhere between ‘living legend’ and ‘part of the furniture’ around here.


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