Microsoft is switching the light but will it turn on or off?

During the VSLive! keynote in Redmond, Microsoft yesterday announced a new Visual Studio product called LightSwitch.

LightSwitch is a new SKU for Visual Studio that will allow people to create line of business (LOB) applications for the desktop and the cloud without writing a single line of code. It will also be shipped with future version of Visual Studio Pro and above. In a way it reminds me of Access but with the difference that it can use different data sources, including Sharepoint and Azure SQL. Since the announcement there have been a wild discussion within the MVP programmers community, especially among VB and C# MVPs if this is a good or a bad thing.

We have seen tools like this before that are aimed to power users who aren’t full-fledged programmers and when a professional programmer have to take over the project it’s a mess with business logic code mixed up with UI code and data access code. I have not yet made up my mind if this is good or bad, but I do see some great opportunities with LightSwitch. Since it generates .Net code, in either C# or VB, and that it does seem to use an n-tier design I feel that this tool might become very successful. Of course we have to wait until the public beta is released later this month before we can actually see if the generated code lives up to the high standard professional developers demand.

Some of the discussion has questioned if this should have been released as an Office tool rather than as a Visual Studio SKU and even though that is a valid point I truly feel that the fact this tool is made by the Visual Studio team rather than the Office team the code generation will be better since the Office team isn’t really interested in creating development tools but also that more professionals might use this for prototyping or getting a quick start application that they continue to build on. If this will be the actual usage of the tool I don’t care if a power user instead of a programmer does the initial prototyping.

In either case I’m looking forward to giving LightSwitch a try as soon as the beta have been released. Several videos will be released showcasing LightSwitch during the next few days/weeks on the LightSwitch home page. Have a look and make up your own mind. Jason Zander, who held the presentation at VSLive, also wrote an excellent blog post about LightSwitch that demonstrates what it does and what it can be used for.

So what do you think? Are tools that hides the complexity of programming a good or a bad thing? Feel free to leave a comment.

Have fun.

4 thoughts on “Microsoft is switching the light but will it turn on or off?”

  1. @Greg_H, I find your comment a bit strange and I don’t think you’ve really given it any thought.

    You can’t really blame the tool for poor database design since it doesn’t design it for you. It does have tools for creating tables and to create relationships but it’s still the user that does the design. You can create poorly designed databases using Management Studio too.

    I may enjoy playing the piano, but it’s not the piano’s fault even if I do it poorly, is it?

  2. It looks like an UI development tool for advanced users. Unless the apps are very very simple, it is still a long way towards “no-coding is necessary” (our ultimate goal). Microsoft should use more A.I. in her future dev products.

  3. I don’t think we will ever really come to the point where no-coding is necessary simply because every business is different and have different business models and business rules and you need to be able to express those within your LOB application.

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