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Creating multiple editions: Extension packages?


We are an ISV, working on a Force.com app that will not include any CRM functionality.  Moreover, in most cases, our customers will not be Salesforce CRM customers.  We intend to offer three editions of our product to our customers: Base, Intermediate and Advanced.  Intermediate would be a superset of Base and Advanced would be a superset of Intermediate.  We want to provide our customers the ability to start with Base or Intermediate and later on, upgrade to the higher editions.  We would also like to provide them the ability to downgrade at a later point if they chose to.  Some questions:


1. From what I can tell, the only way for us to accomplish editions is by creating extension packages.  Is that true, or is there an alternative option available.


2. If we create extension packages, will the upgrade to a higher edition be seamless i.e. will the customer's data be preserved?


3. With the extension packages approach, can a customer even downgrade to a lower edition?  If yes, will his data (that which is relevant to the lower edition) be preserved?






1.  This is the best option.  

2.  Yes, customer data will be preserved.

3.  Data in the lower edition will be preserved.  To downgrade, you'll simply deactivate the customer's license to the extension (upgraded edition) package.  When the customer uninstalls the upgrade, the data in the lowest edition (base package) is maintained.