Microsoft's LightSwitch Beta Debuts Early

A development tool designed to enable business experts -- and not just professional programmers -- to write applications in Microsoft Visual Studio has started beta testing several days early.

Dubbed LightSwitch, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) began shipping the beta of the tool on Wednesday to MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) subscribers, the company said in a blog post.

"Public availability will be this Monday, August 23rd, but if you are an MSDN subscriber, visit your subscriptions page to get access to the download now," Beth Massi, a senior program manager on the Visual Studio team, said in the post to the LightSwitch Team Blog.

Microsoft introduced LightSwitch at the Visual Studio Live (VS Live)summer conference in early August, describing the tool as designed to let developers of varying skill levels build data-driven business applications that will run in the cloud, on the Web, and on the desktop.

Using LightSwitch, business domain experts can build business applications without calling in a team of developers, by using a template-based programming model.

"Most business applications are forms-over-data applications, that is, a user interface for viewing, entering and editing data. With most development tools, much your time is spent doing the same task repeatedly... You write code to interact with a database, you write code for the user interface, and you write code for business logic," Microsoft wrote in the preliminary online documentationfor LightSwitch.

"By using LightSwitch, much of the work is already done for you. In fact, it is possible to create a LightSwitch application without writing a single line of code. For most applications, the only code you have to write is the code that only you can write: the business logic," it said.

LightSwitch will work with SharePoint, Silverlight, Microsoft Office and Windows. It also supports SQL Azure and Windows Azure, the company saidin early August. Though it advertises the possibility of creating an application without having to write any code, LightSwitch still supports both Visual Basic and C#.

When it's released, LightSwitch will be available both as a standalone product and will also be included with editions of Visual Studio Professional and above.

Current MSDN subscribers can get the beta download immediately. Others interested in beta testing LightSwitch will be able to download the beta package beginning Monday, Massi said.



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