Full disclosure: I’m a big proponent of Visual Studio but when it comes to creating data screens over and over again is, what’s the word I’m looking for – tiresome. Combine that with having to find and tweak some code because this new application works slightly differently than a previous version or worrying about how to deploy the application in a different manner (e.g. Azure) and any new piece of software that can alleviate these concerns is fine by me.

One challenge that most developers face is that the line of business (LOB) application "grows up" and needs to be extended to be a corporate-wide solution. Often that would have required re-building the application from the ground-up in Visual Studio.




LightSwitch was designed to enable a smooth transition from business user application to full-fledged Visual Studio application. At its core LightSwitch is built on Visual Studio, and applications built with LightSwitch use the .NET Framework, so the handoff is smooth.

With integrated support for Microsoft Office, including support for SharePoint, Excel, Word and Access data (post-Beta), LightSwitch is a flexible and easy to use tool enabling business domain experts to build applications. Other data sources can be connected to by using WCF RIA Services. 

By picking a pre-built template a lot of the application plumbing is created for you and you can write any additional code in either VB or C#. Having this type of functionality means that LightSwitch provides a quick and easy way to get an application up and running in a short period of time.

The flexibility of the finished application is pretty unique too. You don’t need to think about where the application will run until it’s time to deploy it. With a few simple clicks your new application can run on the desktop as an out-of-browser Silverlight application, on a Web server for in-browser use, or your application can be deployed to Windows Azure and use SQL Azure data.

While a full RTM version has yet to be released, Beta 2 does come with a "Go Live" license which means it can be used for internal production use.

Resources

Download the Beta here as well the Visual Studio LightSwitch Beta 2 Training Kit to get demos and labs to help you learn to use and extend LightSwitch.

Summary

Using LightSwitch is the simplest way to build business applications for the desktop and the cloud. It’s abstracted the technology decisions to enable you to focus on what’s important – the data and the screens (i.e. Windows vs. Web).