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LightSwitch Q&A

Microsoft today announced the launch of its new Visual Studio LightSwitch business application development environments at the VSLive! Conference in Redmond. Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester Research, has been tracking the LightSwitch project and provided insight into the new solution, which promises to enable robust application development for business users.

Visual Studio Magazine: What's your take on how compelling LightSwitch really is? Will it really enable business users to develop rich .NET apps that can be elevated to native Visual Studio development?

Jeffrey Hammond: I think so, especially if the users can start from the included templates. We've certainly seen tremendous business user use of tools like Excel and Access for basic programming tasks, and I have to say that the digital skills the millennial generation brings to the table constantly surprises me. So many firms have the list of projects the IT "can't get to", and I'd not be surprised if we see LightSwitch apps popping up to fill that gap.

VSM: What shortcomings or issues do you see Microsoft having to still address with the LightSwitch launch?

JH: I think they can always use more out of the box templates to make it easy to create archetypal apps out of the box. The other thing I'd like to see in a future version is a more graphical WYSIWYG designer.

VSM: It seems Microsoft has been working hard to court productivity developers, with efforts like WebMatrix, jQuery and now LightSwitch. Are we seeing a sustained effort by Microsoft to recapture the individual/small-shop developer, after spending years focused on scaling .NET to the enterprise?

JH: I think so. I also think it's an acknowledgment of how our space is shifting. Think how kids are coming into the space that take a programming course or two in high school and college, but aren't professional developers. They think how application architecture is evolving with all the Web based services out there. We're moving into a world where front ends are composed and mashed-up, and with the right tools you don't need a degree in computer science as much as a real understanding of how the business works.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 08/03/2010

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