InfoWorld preview: Visual Studio LightSwitch chases app dev Holy Grail

Beta 1 of Microsoft's LightSwitch shows promise as an easy-to-use development tool, but it doesn't seem to know its audience

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LightSwitch can currently create desktop and Web database applications with screens, and it can export tables to Excel spreadsheets. It cannot create reports or charts, nor can it export to other formats, but the assumption may be that you will do these things with Excel.

LightSwitch as specified will have prebuilt templates for common database applications, one of the driving features in other easy-to-use database development tools. As far as I can tell, there are no templates in beta 1.

The core goal of Visual Studio LightSwitch is to make database application design easy enough and convenient enough for businesspeople without programming expertise. I am not sure that it achieves that goal. Part of the problem is the inherent complexity of the task -- but FileMaker, Alpha Five, and Microsoft Access all achieve the goal in a satisfactory way.

I fear that LightSwitch may be hindered by the very connection with Visual Studio that makes its technology possible. If the LightSwitch team can achieve a Zen simplicity that makes its Visual Studio roots disappear, and if hardware and compiler advances allow it to run fast enough to be usable, LightSwitch may well shine brightly. But at the moment, it is merely flickering.

This story, "InfoWorld preview: Visual Studio LightSwitch beta casts shadow of a doubt," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Windows, software development, development tools, Microsoft Visual Studio, ASP.Net, Silverlight, and rich Internet application development tools at InfoWorld.com.

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