Salesforce.com's next release to feature Chatter updates, new third-party app integration tools

Chatter Polls and Canvas Framework are just two of hundreds of planned features in Winter '13

Salesforce.com has revealed details of what's coming in its next major product update, Winter '13, in a set of release notes recently posted on its website.

One significant feature is the ability to run polls through Salesforce.com's Chatter social collaboration software.

"For example, you are in charge of planning an annual sales meeting and need to find out when most people are available to attend the meeting," the notes state. "Instead of emailing everybody in the sales organization, you could create a poll in the Sales Chatter group that lists possible dates and ask people to vote for the date that works best for them."

The vendor also affirmed that a new Communities feature, which was announced earlier this month, will be available in pilot form with Winter '13.

Salesforce.com developers are getting some new features as well, with a key one being Canvas Framework.

This feature, which will be available in pilot form, "enables you to easily integrate a third-party application in Salesforce," according to the notes.

It provides "a set of tools and JavaScript APIs (application programming interfaces) that you can use to expose an application as a canvas app," the notes add. "This means you can take your new or existing applications and make them available to your users as part of their Salesforce experience."

Third-party applications written in any language can be exposed as canvas apps, according to the notes. "The only requirement is that the app has a secure URL (HTTPS)."

Salesforce.com's Touch mobile interface will be available in beta form in Winter '13, on iPads only. "This release is production-quality but has limited functionality and some known limitations," the notes state.

In addition, developers will have access to a Mobile SDK (software development) kit for building both native mobile applications as well as ones written with HTML5 for cross-platform deployments. Hybrid mobile applications will also be possible. These will "use a JavaScript bridge in a native container to merge the portability of HTML5 with native device capabilities, such as the camera or address book," Salesforce.com said in the notes.

But at least one feature is going away in Winter '13. "Google is constantly changing and evolving their technology infrastructure," the notes state. "As a result of these changes, the Google Talk sidebar is no longer available within Salesforce."

Winter '13 is scheduled to enter a Sandbox Preview period on Sept. 7, according to an official blog post.

That's just a week-and-a-half before Salesforce.com kicks off its annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, during which Winter '13's features will no doubt be topics of discussion.

Last week, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff revealed some other big announcements in store for Dreamforce, including the company's plans for a new "marketing cloud."

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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