For the casual or business developer, the hook will be the assortment of pre-built templates supplied with the product that can be customized without writing any code. For the IT department that winds up having to maintain and continue the development of the working LightSwitch application, the attraction will be that LightSwitch can be imported into a full Visual Studio 2010 environment for serious enhancement by a real programmer.
LightSwitch could challenge many other easy-to-use business application development environments, starting with Access 2010, and continuing with FileMaker 11, Iron Speed Designer 7, and my own company's Alpha Five 10.5. But will it be the death of any of them?
I would say, from a historical perspective, that's highly unlikely. Each of these products can do some things better and faster than LightSwitch as currently planned. Every one of them has been honed over multiple versions to meet the real needs of casual developers who know their own business. None of the product managers planning new versions of these products are ignorant, stupid, or in denial about what Microsoft can do when it gets serious about filling a niche.
From a programmer's point of view, Entity Data Models are elegant -- but can you imagine explaining them to the business owner who struggles to write Excel macros? And from a business point of view, the association of LightSwitch with Visual Studio may simply be too geeky to be considered an advantage.
At any rate, we shall see. It will certainly be an interesting product to watch, and I intend to beta test it carefully, both to see how it could be useful to me and other serious developers, and to see how my company's products could find a viable competitive niche if LightSwitch actually becomes wildly successful.
This story, "Can Visual Studio LightSwitch grab 'casual' developers?" was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on important tech news with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.