First announced in early August, Microsoft LightSwitch is a new part of the Visual Studio family designed to serve developers who need to take business applications to product-ready stage rapidly. A full LightSwitch beta is available for download with pre-configured screen templates suited to desktop, web and cloud-based applications.
Microsoft says that LightSwitch provides prewritten code and other reusable components to handle routine application tasks. There is also step-by-step guidance on hand for those programmers that need it. However for more proficient coders, custom code can be written using Visual Basic .NET or C#.
"LightSwitch is part of the Visual Studio family and when you get into writing code you are in the VS IDE. At the same time we have found that most line of business applications follow a standard pattern and LightSwitch is optimized for helping you leverage those patterns. LightSwitch uses the full Visual Studio shell and editor and gives you direct access to the .NET Framework. Note that for Beta 1 LightSwitch does not yet attach to Access database files but this feature will be added before the product ships," said Microsoft's Jason Zander.
Microsoft's goal with LightSwitch is to aid rapid "line of business" application development by optimizing for the most frequently occurring application patterns; i.e data plus screens plus code.
"LightSwitch allows you to create desktop applications (the default) or browser applications. The applications you produce follow a classic three-tier architecture and are built on top of .NET (Entities, WCF RIA Services), Silverlight, ASP.NET, with access to multiple sources of data like SQL Server and SharePoint," added Zander.