LightSwitch for Business Apps announced

Visual Studio has gained a new member in its growing group of applications: Visual Studio LightSwitch.

LightSwitch was announced by Jason Zanders at the VSLive! keynote presentation, and is targeted at business users who are looking to build business applications quickly and easily. The aim of LightSwitch is to make it extremely simple to build the two components that most user business apps need – data and screens. It is essentially a trimmed-down Visual Studio edition optimised to make it simple to quickly get this kind of application up and running.

There are a number of optimisations that allow this to happen. For example, when starting a new project, you are immediately given a helper to set up or connect to an existing database. The database creator also has some added business domain data types, for example “EmailAddress” and “PhoneNumber”; these allow the system to automatically provide data validation logic so the person building the application doesn’t have to. The built applications also contain integration with Microsoft Office, for example providing a quick link to export a particular data view to Excel.

Critics of LightSwitch say it is simply Microsoft Access all over again; however Microsoft are adding that because this is essentially sat on top of Visual Studio, you can drop back into code if you need to. Additionally, it brings another target-specific version of Visual Studio (similar to Test Professional) which will help expand its usefulness to companies.

LightSwitch will be coming out in Beta later this month and will also eventually be included in Professional and above versions of Visual Studio.

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