This week Microsoft released Visual Studio LightSwitch Beta 1 to MSDN subscribers. It supports deployment on a Windows desktop, in Silverlight in a browser or as a cloud-based application running Azure. This software tools represents yet another industry attempt to simplify programming for business users. While the story has been told before, it may bear special attention here, as Microsoft has a strong lineage for giving non-developers an entry into development. MS execs discussing LightSwitch liken it in aspects to the redoubtable FoxPro database tool set, which launched many a client-server application back in the day.
The name “LightSwitch” is intended to convey the notion that using it is as easy as turning on a switch. Time will tell if it really is quite that easy – but it can be said that Microsoft and MSDN are busy providing tools that ease .NET and Azure development for a spectrum of developers – including individuals on the business side ready to try their hands at program development.
Long-time Microsoft watchers know the company rarely hits a home run its first time at bat. But software is reworked and refined until it meets the needs of a wide programming public. This can be observed in the work of its patterns&practices group. That collection of folks has worked for a number of years to cull best practices from .NET development projects. More and more good stuff is resulting. A recent 871-page book in the Thomas Erl SOA Series is completely devoted to these best .NET practices as they are applied within SOA.
Microsoft is just getting going with Azure, and their have been obvious missteps. But, with there dedicated effort to come up with a cloud computing approach that works for their customers, they do not appear to lagging anyone on the cloud front.