Introducing Microsoft LightSwitch Beta 1

Posted in LightSwitch, Microsoft by tejana on November 3, 2010

The Simplest Way to Build Business Applications for the Desktop, Web and Cloud

Microsoft’s new rapid-application-development tool brings the Fox Pro/Access ease of programming to .Net in a forms over data paradigm with impressive pedigree and high claims riding on an initial Beta. This is a product that demos well. With a few lines of code (if any) and a few clicks, presto; we have a running application that works. Obviously, years of skillful work has gone into this release to produce a development platform with focused abilities that just work. The scope of possible applications is amazing, going everywhere a Silverlight application can go. LightSwitch aggregates data from different sources in to a data workspace. Physical data is by default stored in a SqlExpress database, but users can connect to Sql Server, Azure, SharePoint 2010, Excel, WCF Data Services or a custom RIA Domain Service. Deployment options allow for quickly scaling the application. The forms over data approach, built on top of Entity Framework, provides a modeling structure that allows pinpoint code snippets to customize generated screens quickly. Although recently Microsoft has been releasing many new programing tools including Visual Studio 2010, the  Beta 1 forum has 4500 messages since August.

Reaction has been shifting. Originally comments like “If MS is going to produce this sort of stuff it needs to firmly distance it from the professional developer tools & make clear that it is not fit for professional use. Create a separate hobbyists division, but don’t blur the lines like this,”(comments on Jason Zander’s Blog) were not uncommon. Some comments were humorous: “Dismay that “lesser” developers will have access to the modern stack.”(BrustBlog)  Some pointed out critical design inefficiency, “That sound? Yes, the one that you just heard. That is the sound of a DBA somewhere expiring.”(Ayende @ Rahien)  What is becoming increasingly clear is that by the time of its optimistic release as a product in 2011, LightSwitch will make a significant daily impact on business users of Microsoft products.

What is less clear is what the product will look like when finally released. Not unlike a book author struggling to release the “Final Draft” by the latest deadline, just to begin the process of technical review, Beta 1 software is just the first step out the door. Let us review some of the primaries.  Jay Schmelzer is the Group Program Manager on the Visual Studio Team.  Steve Anonsen brings a background from Microsoft Business Division. Steve and John Rivard gave a architecture talk on Channel 9. I am sure there are many others working behind the scene. The aim is to release quality software not meet deadlines, but there are two months left in the year. Community reviews cannot be ignored but most feature requests must be denied. The original concerns are shifting to requests for new features and dismay that there is absolutely no commitment for future releases not to break Beta 1 code.

Well, here it comes, a development tool for people of various levels of experience who just want to get something working on the Web, Cloud, or Desktop. Best place to start is probably LightSwitch Developer Learn.


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