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      Visualforce vs Lightning: Simplified and Demystified


      Jun 13, 2022

      5 minute read

      Salesforce offers two ways to design and create custom user interfaces, Visualforce and Lightning.

      Both these methodologies are powerful in their own ways. Salesforce’s Lightning is a modern UI framework. It enables you to build dynamic business web applications that are compatible with mobile and desktop services.

      On the other hand, the fan-favorite Visualforce is a UI framework that comprises tag-based markup language. It has a set of server-side controllers that enable you to build apps that align with Lightning Experience or even your own custom interface.

      And even with the entry of Lightning and constant promotion from Salesforce towards Lightning, Visualforce isn’t going away anytime soon.

      Going for the Visualforce or Lightning way is a classic dilemma.

      To figure out who trumps who, let’s dive into this blog post.

      The Basic Anatomy of Visualforce and Lightning Components

      Visualforce: The Visualforce framework has a set of tags fixed on the server-side. These tags work well with standard or custom controllers to make the database and other operations easier to implement.

      Classification of Visualforce pages are:

      1. Visualforce Page – A mark-up language similar to HTML which is leveraged in designing page layouts.

      2. Custom Controller – Apex code can easily handle server-side implementations at the Visualforce page.

      3. JavaScript – JavaScript can manage client-side processes and can be used with CSS to customize the UI.

      4. Apex Extensions – Apex Extensions can easily manage optional logical operations that are not accessible using standard controllers.

      Lightning Components: Lightning components is a modern Salesforce user interface framework for developing interactive web apps for desktop and mobile devices. Lightning Components and apps make use of ‘bundles’ to collect crucial files and ensure that UI gets fluid motion.

      Here are the features of the Lightning Components Bundle:

      1. Component – A mark-up language used to shape the component layout.

      2. Controller – A JavaScript controller to manage client-side processing and an Apex controller to manage server-side processing.

      3. Design File – A design file is used for representing the design-time actions of the component used in Lightning pages or app builder.

      4. Documentation File – A documentation file is used to offer reference documents or sample code to users who have received the component.

      5. Helper – A helper stores reusable JavaScript functions that are managed by the controller.

      6. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) File – An SVG file gives users the option to include tailored icons that could be used for future reference.

      Visualforce and Lightning: A Tactical Breakdown

      They both deliver ways to curate custom UI for Salesforce. So, let’s look at the differences between these frameworks.


      1. UI Generation


      Server-Side: The user requests a page and the server processes the request. It does so by executing the page’s underlying code and sending the resulting HTML to the browser. Based on the user’s interaction with the web page, the browser displays the HTML to the user.


      Client-Side: The user requests for an application or a component. After which, the application or component bundle returns to the client and the browser begins loading the bundle. Based on the user’s interaction with the web page, JavaScript application generates the UI. Also, the JavaScript application can modify the user interface as needed.



      You can create a page-centric experience for the users with restricted client-side logic. Visualforce is your way to go if you are already using JavaScript frameworks like Angular JS or React JS. A cool thing it can do is – it can be used as a container in a third-party framework to build unique experiences with JavaScript. Additionally, you can develop a Partner Community using Salesforce Classic.


      Lightning is a cutting-edge technology that works in tandem with Salesforce’s UI strategy to provide users with an interactive and collaborative experience. Lightning components can be used to develop Salesforce mobile applications.
      And you don’t really need to be a techie to use the lightning app builder to build applications by connecting standard or custom components.

      For adding UI elements, Lightning app builders have an array of quick and easy features. All you’ve got to do is when using a lightning app builder, simply drag and drop any UI feature of your choice. When developing a Customer Community, the Community Builder can be your best bet to create a Lightning-based community site with Lightning components.

      3. Complexity


      Visualforce has been in the run for a long time and has plenty of rich standard components that take a lot of the effort out of development. For instance, the Field component generates the right widget to capture input based on the field type. It offers security features as well.

      For instance, when using a page managed by a standard controller, if a user doesn’t have access to a field then it will be hidden from them. So, if you have business logic in Apex classes on the server, then Visualforce is the way to go.


      Lightning component, however, is a new technology and only provides the basics. You’ll find yourself consuming a lot of time in writing code to implement features that you would otherwise get cost-free. And if you are on the hunt for a collection of well-designed, well-written, and re-usable Lightning components, things can get tricky especially if you’re relatively new to JavaScript.

      4. Features


      • Supports the fast development of simple or complex UIs for both mobile and desktop apps.
      • Leverages development technologies such as jQuery, JavaScript, CSS, HTML5, and others.
      • Ensures a secure display of third-party images.

      Lightning Component

      • Offers customizable dashboards for clients.
      • The Salesforce Lightning Assistant gives insights to the user about new updates every day.
      • Offers work performance charts to the users or clients to help them keep track of their business growth.
      • Salesforce Lightning Voice enables teams to connect with the clients over voice calls within the Sales Cloud server.

      What’s New With Visualforce and Lightning?

      Let’s take a look at the cool things that Salesforce released.

      For Visualforce:

      • For the security of API, calls would now have stricter validation.
      • To prevent API navigation calls from going out consecutively, an API navigation call pattern is used, which fires only the first navigation call.

      For Lightning Component:

      • Introduction of Lightning Web Security (Beta), the Winter’22 release. This client-side security architecture is for your custom Lightning web components (LWC) which would replace the Lightning Locker for LWC.

      Additional features of Lightning Web Security are:

      – Cross-namespace component use
      – Interactions with global objects
      – Better support of third-party JavaScript
      – Compatibility with standard JavaScript as it evolves

      • Simplify communication across Document Object Model between Aura and LWC.
      • Use the @salesforce/site scoped module to import information about the current Experience Builder site when developing custom LWC.
      • Add user-authorized cookie consent to your LWC. This means, now, you can allow one or more cookie types such as: Required, Marketing, Preference, and Statistics.
      • Easily state the events for a lighting web component on a page and then you can use the Lightning App Builder to expose them.
      • If the number of actions in a boxcar request is above 2,500, the Lightning Component framework displays a 413 HTTP response for it.

      The Verdict

      Visualforce framework is a page-centric web application model which is much easier to implement and can divide large applications into smaller and manageable pages. However, it has a higher latency rate and restricted interactivity.

      Lightning Components is an advanced app-centric model, which is used to create, modify, and animate UI instead of replacing a page at a time. However, it has a steeper learning curve when compared to Visualforce. Since application building is an essential part of Lightning, it is more complex than Visualforce. It will demand the expertise of a skillful organization to guide you in the complete process.

      If you use both Apex and Visualforce, building functionality using Lightning Components would require your developers to upskill in JavaScript. On the other hand, if your developers build web apps with the business logic in the front-end, they will have to learn server-side technologies to leverage Visualforce.

      While the Visualforce vs Lightning rumble is close, the decision really boils down to:

      • Your team’s level of expertise
      • The time that you have to complete the UI

      Want to build superior applications? Talk to us!

      Our Salesforce experts are well versed with the nitty-gritty of Salesforce and would love to pitch in to elevate your Salesforce journey. Just drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it from there.

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