Microsoft announced an upcoming version of its Visual Studio development suite, called Visual Studio LightSwitch, which is aimed at business users who wish to create applications for Windows or the cloud but lack the normally required developer skills. As its name implies, the tool is totally visual and can create fully functioning apps without the user needing to type actual code—unless the user wants to, of course: LightSwitch is still Visual Studio and provides access to both C# an Visual Basic coding.
"LightSwitch is the simplest way to build business applications for the cloud and the desktop," Microsoft Senior Vice President S. Somasegar wrote in a blog posting announcing the product. "A broader set of developers is building business applications and really expects a much simpler way to quickly accomplish their goals. And with this observation, a light went on and LightSwitch was born."
According to Microsoft, LightSwitch provides a variety of prebuilt templates and tools to build business applications that target Windows on the PC or Windows Azure in the cloud. The tool can create professional-quality line-of-business (LOB) applications without any code; connect to data sources such as SQL Server, SQL Azure, and SharePoint; and export data to Excel.
Under the covers, LightSwitch is building Silverlight-based applications. These types of applications can run in a browser or out of a browser under Windows or in the cloud. Microsoft is also using Silverlight as the basis for its upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform.
The first beta version of LightSwitch will be made available August 23, Microsoft says. Pricing and licensing has yet to be announced.