Today at VSLive!, Jason Zander announced a new Visual Studio product called LightSwitch.  It’s been in the works for quite some time now, as you might imagine.  Beta 1 of LightSwitch will be available on August 23rd – I’ll post again with a link as soon as I have it.  You can check out this link to learn more: http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/lightswitch

Basically LightSwitch is a new tool to make building business applications easier than ever before.  It allows you to build local or browser hosted applications using SilverLight.  Your apps can run on premise or in the cloud.  In some ways, I draw an analogy with Microsoft Access in the sense that it is a radically simplified way to build business apps that enable you to have your app up and running within minutes or hours.

However, there are some key innovations.  For one, your app is, by default, architected for the future – scalability and the cloud.  Further when you hit the wall on the “simple” tool, which apps seem to do when the little departmental app suddenly becomes a smash hit, you have headroom.  LightSwitch IS a Visual Studio based product.  You can “go outside the box” and bring the full power of Visual Studio and Expression to bear to build a bullet proof, scalable app without throwing everything out and starting over.

LightSwitch provides a heavily “data-oriented” application design paradigm.  It can consume and mash-up external data in Sharepoint or SQL (including SQL Azure) and provides quick and easy way to build the UI around it.

It’s a really awesome way to get started, yet ensure that there’s no ceiling for your app.  If you find yourself automating a bunch of business processes, I strongly encourage you to give LightSwitch a try.

Jason’s blog has a nice walk through with a simple LightSwitch example: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jasonz/archive/2010/08/03/introducing-microsoft-visual-studio-lightswitch.aspx

Brian