After a few years of development, Microsoft has finally announced Lightswitch. This was formally a very hush hush project code named Kitty Hawk that even the MVP’s only had very limited knowledge of.

You can get more information at: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/lightswitch and it will be generally available in Beta form on August 23rd.

This tool is an add-on to Visual Studio 2010 that allows a power business user (or developer) to very quickly generate a data centric application then make it into a client or web based application.

The resulting program is basically a Silverlight application.

Being all .net it is fully extendable in a number of ways but it will take a while for all those details to come out and I’m sure will change over the first few releases. One example is that Infragistics will have “skins” for it.

Jason Zander does a walkthrough on his blog at: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jasonz/archive/2010/08/03/introducing-microsoft-visual-studio-lightswitch.aspx

Time will tell but I for one am excited to see the entry level programming made so much easier. People have compared this with Access which drove (and still does) many thousands of businesses but many of these “applications” had serious problems in the way they were structured and used. A vocal contingent “users” will create monstrosities with Lightswtich and then dump it on the professional programmers to straighten out as was the case with Access.

While there is some truth to this, and I created or touched hundreds of Access programs myself, I think the net result of making tools accessible to non-programmers is a very good thing. At least it forced the potential customer to think through what data they need and what screens they require in a way that is not possible without actually having a proto-type. The problem, as always, is when the proto-type turns into wide scale production.

In any case I’m in for the ride!