It’s common for our large customers to have a need to support business user created applications. These applications are often conceived and built to support “point in time” business needs at the workgroup level. However, a major issue with these types of “user created” applications is that over time, these applications often become “mission critical” to their users, yet are not implemented in ways that allow them to scale and be supported by the organization.

An example of this was the proliferation of Microsoft Access applications, where end-users used Microsoft Office Access to build simple applications that worked with data. As these were easy to build, they proliferated, yet were not supportable or scalable to the enterprise level.

To address the needs of the business user for workgroup level data applications, while addressing the enterprise needs for scalable, maintainable solutions,  Microsoft delivered Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 in the past. Now, LightSwitch is available as part of Visual Studio 2012, and has been enhanced to support a broader array of capabilities and deployment models.

Visual Studio LightSwitch is a component of Visual Studio Professional and above, and is the easiest way to build business applications for the web, SharePoint and the cloud. LightSwitch provides a simplified development environment that enables you to concentrate on the business logic instead of the application infrastructure.

Most business applications provide a forms based interface that enables the manipulation of data... You can add/remove and change the data in an underlying database. When building these types of applications using traditional developer toolsets, most of the time is spent building the "plumbing" that does the data manipulation, but you also need to write or author the user interface as well. This is clearly out of the domain of the casual developer who may be just interested in exposing databases or services. 

When you use LightSwitch, much of this work is done for you and, in fact, it is possible to create an application with LightSwitch without writing any code at all (although interesting applications still require some!)  In most cases, the only code you'll end up writing is the business logic you want the application to have, which is not just what is stored in the database. While providing a simplified experience for building business applications, LightSwitch takes care of making sure the application is built using modern best practices that can be scaled and enhanced by enterprise developers, without having to start from scratch. This means any workgroup or user applications can grow into supportable, scalable enterprise solutions over time, if and when needed.

I encourage you to check out how you can use LightSwitch to deliver rapid business applications. For a complete set of video walkthroughs, samples, and pointers to additional resources, check out the LightSwitch portal at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/vstudio/ff796201