This Q&A originally published on August 28, 2015, and was updated on May 16, 2017.
A couple of years ago, Salesforce announced and subsequently launched Lightning. Prior to the launch, the Skuid engineering team spent over two years working with the Salesforce Platform team to ensure we would be fully compatible. So by launch date, we had probably dug deeper into Lightning than any other company outside of Salesforce.
The new Sales Cloud UI, called Lightning Experience, offers a welcome change over the Classic UI. So when the launch occurred, we were very excited to announce that Skuid and the Lightning Experience worked in perfect harmony. They still do. But now, things are even better.
Today, you can use Skuid to dramatically extend and customize the user experience of Sales Cloud Lightning and Service Cloud Lightning. You can use Skuid to build an infinite number of insanely cool Lightning Components, no code required. J
ust drag and drop the Skuid Lightning component in your Lightning apps, then point it to any Skuid Page and bam!, you're in business. Very cool way to do just about anything you want in Lightning apps, even faster. Visualforce feels old and lazy by comparison. But from my perspective, it's the new Lightning Platform that offers the most promise for our customers.
While Skuid remains a fabulous way to extend Salesforce CRM apps, with Skuid + Lightning, you can build net-new apps furiously fast.Still, Salesforce’s announcement raised a lot of questions about Skuid and Lightning two years ago, and unfortunately, Skuid vs. Lightning comparisons continue to cause some perplexed looks today.
I hope this rewrite of a previous article will help dispel much of the confusion and help folks understand that it's not us vs. them. Skuid + Lightning truly is a case of 1 + 1 = 5.
Q: What is Lightning?
A: First and foremost, Lightning is a modern framework to (eventually) replace Visualforce. Lightning represents the future of Salesforce's apps. It started out as Aura but was rebranded prior to public launch.
Because it's such a significant change, Salesforce now uses Lightning like an umbrella brand to encompasses a bunch of different things. The Lightning UI framework replaces Visualforce.
The Lightning App Builder replaces the Page Layout Editor. Lightning Experience replaces the Classic UI. And now, they are tagging on the Lightning brand to their apps, such as Sales Cloud Lightning. Regardless, the underlying UI framework is the backbone.
Q: What's the difference between Skuid and Lightning?
A: That's a moving target, but I'll take a stab at it. When running natively in Lightning, Skuid takes advantage of all the goodies in Lightning to extend the platform's user interface capabilities. For example, Lightning provides out-of-the-box list views.
Skuid provides a more powerful way to display lists in numerous ways, including responsive tables, cards and queues that can include custom filters, buttons, images.
You can also augment Skuid components with numerous other UI elements such as sorting, inline editing, conditional rendering (of just about anything) and so much more. Lightning provides the basics. Skuid takes you much further, without writing code.
While there are many Lightning components available on the AppExchange, companies often seek components to match a very specific need. For example, when Lightning was first launched, Skuid built a Lightning component to use in the Dreamforce demo that displayed alcohol content in the process of winemaking.
It was a cool component, but there are not many companies who can use it. Skuid actually abstracts the process of making components to a level where you can build a component or app to do just about anything.
So instead of measuring just alcohol content, you can use one toolset (Skuid) to create many applications across many use cases.You may notice that this sounds very similar to how Skuid delivers value when running natively in Classic and Visualforce.
That's because it is, for the most part, the same story. The big difference is that Lightning provides a cleaner, more advanced starting point than Classic. So with Lightning + Skuid, you get a bigger head start, and you can go much further in less time before you have to write code.
Q: Salesforce says I won’t need to use code to build apps with Lightning. Is this true?
A: The answer is yes and no. It really depends on how you define an app for your company and users. For example, a sales process looks very different if you need to configure oil rigs, manage media campaign sales or sell complicated insurance packages.
The more custom your process becomes, the less likely it will be that out-of-the-box solutions will suffice. The more exacting a company's brand-design and process requirements, the less satisfied the company will be with standard fonts, colors or navigation.
For companies who seek a fantastic out-of-the-box CRM, Lightning Sales Cloud may get them exactly what they need. But in many cases (if not most), further customization will be required.
The beauty of the Lightning Experience is that you can add more functions and features to the standard CRM experience with Lightning Components from the AppExchange. And you can drag and drop them into your UX without writing code.So far, so good.
However, if you want to build a highly bespoke app for health claim reconciliation, or career counseling, or manufacturing supply chain, or pharmacology, you likely won't find an out-of-the-box Lightning component to suit your special needs.
If no third-party component exists for your specific case, you'll have to write your own Lightning components with code, unless you use Skuid to create those Lightning components.Another item to consider is custom branding and skinning of your apps.
The Lightning Experience is built upon the Lightning Design System standards, a fantastic design system for companies that do not have their own design system.
But for those who have exacting, predefined user interface (UI) and brand standards, the current standard Lightning configuration won't suffice. More often than not, enterprises need a much higher degree of customization to effectively support the unique needs of their business.
To meet these exacting needs, we have historically turned to code. With Lightning, if you are uncomfortable with the predefined design system, you're going to have to write code, unless you use Skuid to match your design system perfectly.
Q: How will my custom Skuid pages work in the new Lightning Experience?
A: You can run your Skuid pages natively in the new Lightning Experience, with little to no rework. From the first release of Lightning, Skuid ran natively in Lightning.
Yes, Skuid also can run natively in Visualforce, but we have been committed for years to take full advantage of Lightning. Both Lightning and Skuid have been evolving very quickly, but we've been growing together, not apart.
One of the beautiful things about creating your user experience in Skuid is that your pages can look identical in both Visualforce and Lightning. If your company is not ready to turn on Lightning today, no worries, you can build Skuid pages in Visualforce today and run them in Lightning tomorrow.
However, you will not be able to run Einstein, and other new Salesforce features if you stay in Visualforce/Classic mode. The good news is that you can run Skuid side-by-side with Einstein and other new features once you make the move to Lightning.
Skuid can help you create a path to Lightning with our new Lightning Migration Service. We strongly recommend that you begin working with us today to plan for this move.
Q: Can I customize workflows with Lightning?
A: With Skuid, you have complete, granular control of workflows in Lightning. If this sounds odd to you, you may still be thinking about Skuid as a competitor to Lightning, which again, is not the case.
Skuid customers are used to creating custom workflows with the Skuid Wizard component, including extensive conditional rendering features and the massive capabilities of the Skuid Action Framework.
All of this works just as well Lightning as it does in Visualforce/Classic. Lightning apps include some standard workflows for certain processes. But you need to write code to do anything significantly custom.
With Skuid, you get comprehensive user interface and logic controls that can extend the workflow capabilities of Lightning dramatically, no code required. So yes, you can radically customize workflows in Lightning when you run Skuid in Lightning.
Q: Does running Skuid on Lightning degrade performance?
A: While everything I’ve mentioned about Skuid and Lightning is available right now, it's been a work in progress. Lightning has been improving steadily for the past two years, and as of the Winter '17 release, we've seen dramatic speed improvements.
In fact, Skuid is now screaming fast in Lightning. In the Summer '17 release, we expect even more performance enhancements, and Skuid will be fully compatible with Lightning Locker Service, a new security protocol.
In short, running Skuid in Lightning will extend Lightning far beyond what you could accomplish with Lightning declarative tools alone. And as always, with Skuid, you won't need to write code to get the exact components you need.
Q: Seriously, now that Lightning is announced, do I really need Skuid?
A: Honestly, the short answer for most companies will still be a resounding “yes.” In my 30+ years in the tech industry, I’ve never met a company that thought standard software fit their custom business needs. Everyone wishes they could customize their apps in some way.
Most want to customize their apps a lot. But no business really wants the expense, slowness, and complications of writing code to get there. Instead, they want agility and ongoing optimization.
Not even software engineers want to spend their time writing and rewriting user interface components, connecting to data, and then writing test code to prove it works. Most engineers want to work on the big, juicy, high-value stuff, not user interface and data connection busywork.
Q: So why would I use Skuid instead of Lightning Experience?
A: It’s not either/or. With Skuid, it's both. Skuid is rock solid and works fabulously in Lightning. In fact, Skuid is the only scalable, enterprise class, fully integrated and native user experience platform running on Lightning.
You can use all the goodness of Lightning Experience, but also create made-to-order components, apps, features and portals, that connect to data from disparate systems, all without writing code. Not convinced? With Skuid, you can:
- Deliver a UX customized to your unique sales processes without code.
- Assemble custom apps that work for your other unique department processes in marketing, operations, engineering, human resources, or finance, without code.
- Brand your apps around your company’s design standards without code.
- Assemble a custom, branded portal, without code.
- Create your own navigation for your company and customers, without code.
- Theme your apps and portals as you wish, or to Lightning standards, then deploy different design themes to different groups of users.
- Conditionally render any component.
- Use tightly integrated Skuid Components and Lightning components.