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LightSwitch Blurs the Lines

A big part of my new duties with Visual Studio magazine is taking briefings with vendors. It's essential to get to know them, since that's where much of the innovation in the industry comes from. From scrappy start-ups to established "big dogs," the vendors help push development forward -- normally by making your job as a developer easier.

To that end, I recently talked with Infragistics about its LightSwitch plug-in called NetAdvantage for LightSwitch, which Executive Editor Kathleen Richards wrote about in her excellent coverage of LightSwitch's release.

I watched a demo of NetAdvantage for LightSwitch recently, and came away impressed -- with both LightSwitch and NetAdvantage for LightSwitch. It's clear that LightSwitch provides the means to build the kind of full-featured applications never before available without lots of hand-coding.

Certainly, you won't be able to build a sophisticated online CRM app in LightSwitch. But you will be able to build some impressive line-of-business apps, for example, without ever opening a code editor or writing a single method.

And with tools like NetAdvantage for LightSwitch, you'll be able to do even more. Jason Beres, vice president of product management at Infragistics, said that he believes that LightSwitch's greatest weakness may be its data visualization. So if you want anything beyond the most basic graphs and charts, you'll need to look to third-party tools or dig into code. Of course, if you like digging into code, why would you be using LightSwitch in the first place?

That's why NetAdvantage for LightSwitch comes with lots of data visualization tools; it's filling in those gaps, allowing non-devs to stay away from scary C# or VB.

Beres also said that he thinks LightSwitch's initial uptake will be strongest among developers. It could crossover big-time into the power user/dba/Access geek crowd as well -- if, Beres says, Microsoft puts some serious marketing muscle behind it. I think he's right. LightSwitch is an opportunity to reach a mostly-untapped market of people who want to build apps without coding.

What do you think? Will LightSwitch break down barriers and get more folks interested in dev? Will those people want to learn more and start to learn code? Let me know via e-mail or on Twitter (follow me at @VSM_Keith), or post in the comments.

Posted by Keith Ward on 08/02/2011

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