Visual Studio LightSwitch Gets Turned Off
As Microsoft ends further development of LightSwitch, the "development" tool aimed at line-of-business types, it introduces an alternative: PowerApps.
- By Michael Domingo
Microsoft last week announced that it is discontinuing LightSwitch development. The "development" tool aimed at line-of-business types will be no more, and at the same time the company is introducing an alternative option, dubbed PowerApps.
"Our vision for LightSwitch was to accelerate the development of line-of-business apps, but the landscape has changed significantly from the time when we first thought about LightSwitch (think mobile and cloud for example)," according to a post from the Visual Studio team.
LightSwitch debuted back in August 2010 at a VSLive! event, and was generally available nearly a year later. (Editor's note: VSLive! is an event owned by 1105 Media, which publishes Visual Studio Magazine.) It was introduced as an optional, independent, rapid application development-style tool for developing line-of-business apps without resorting to writing actual Visual Basic or C# code. A good RAD demonstration using LightSwitch is in this blog post from Microsoft's Jason Zander, who was a CVP with the Visual Studio team at the time of LightSwitch's debut.
LightSwitch has always been a niche tool with a minor fanbase -- a Visual Studio Magazine internal survey of readers showed that 3 percent of among 1,441 respondents said they use it. (In the same survey, a little more than 10 percent of users said they used Silverlight.) It doesn't quite mean the end of LightSwitch, as the team said that support for any LightSwitch apps will continue along with Visual Studio 2015 mainstream support through October 2020.
Even so, the team is recommending that LightSwitch users stop building new apps and instead switch over to the new PowerApps tool, which, according to the VS team, "offers a modern, intuitive experience for LOB application development."
Where LightSwitch allowed for the idea of apps in which apps that were cobbled together still needed massaging to make them work properly, it's the intention that tools from within the PowerApps environment can be easily paired up. PowerApps out the gate provides connectors to commonly used apps, such as Google Drive, Twitter, Slack, Microsoft Azure, and Salesforce, to name just a few. PowerApps-enabled apps can then be ported to the Web or mobile devices.
PowerApps is currently in preview here.
Michael Domingo is a long-time software publishing veteran, having started up and managed several developer publications for the Clipper compiler, Microsoft Access, and Visual Basic. He's also managed IT pubs for 1105 Media, including Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine and Virtualization Review before landing his current gig as Visual Studio Magazine Editor in Chief. Besides his publishing life, he's a professional photographer, whose work can be found by Googling domingophoto.