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Salesforce’s headquarters in San Francisco. (GeekWire Photo / Todd Bishop)

Companies that want to customize their Salesforce experience around their own unique needs will now be able to tap into programming skills already familiar to a huge portion of the software development world.

Salesforce plans to announce Thursday that developers creating applications atop its Lightning development platform will be able to use JavaScript, the most widely used programming language in software development, to build their apps. JavaScript support will arrive alongside Lightning Web Components, an effort from the salesforce-management software company to modernize its approach toward platform development.

“With this announcement, every JavaScript developer can code on Salesforce,” said Anne DelSanto, executive vice president and general manager for platform at Salesforce. And that’s a lot of developers: JavaScript has been the most widely used language for six years in a row according to surveys conducted by popular developer hangout Stack Overflow, and Salesforce cited IDC estimates that just over 7 million people know how to write code in JavaScript.

Companies that sought to build apps on Lightning prior to this announcement needed to learn custom tools specific to Salesforce, and while that’s not the hardest undertaking in computer science, it’s one more thing to pile onto your development teams. But nearly every company that builds and maintains web applications likely has more than a few people on staff who know JavaScript, DelSanto said.

Salesforce customers that want to take advantage of Lightning Web Components will still need to learn a few special tricks around how Salesforce data is used in their apps, but it will take them far less time to get up and running than before this release, said Jacob Lehrbaum, vice president of developer relations at Salesforce.

Last month Zendesk announced that it would be pursing a similar strategy by building a customer-relationship management development platform on Amazon Web Services, betting that developers already familiar with the cloud giant’s tools would find it easier to get up and running with custom apps. It didn’t try to hide that it was targeting companies learning custom skills for Salesforce’s Lightning when unveiling that new service.

Lightning Web Components will be available as a preview starting Thursday, and several Salesforce customers have been testing the capability in a private beta over the last few months, the company said. General availability of this service should arrive by February 2019.

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