Saturday, November 13, 2010

Should Microsoft’s Office Group Market Visual Studio LightSwitch?

Gary Short asserts Microsoft’s Office group should market LightSwitch in his TechEd Europe Day 2 – Is LightSwitch in the Wrong Product Group? post of 11/12/2010:

image22242222I spoke to a number of attendees who had been to the Lightswitch session today. They told me that the presenter walked the audience through Lightswitch and it’s place in the Visual Studio family of products. It quickly became clear to the attendees that there was a certain amount of push back from developers in the audience, the general feeling was that Lightswitch is not a developer tool. The feeling is most certainly that Lightswitch is a power user tool and does not belong in the Visual Studio stable. I mean, what does Lightswtich do? It helps you create Silverlight applications, right? Well I’m a developer, if I want to create Silverlight apps I have ways of doing that already.

image[28] So, if Lightswitch shouldn’t be in the Visual Studio stable, where should it be? Personally, I’d like to see it in the Office stable, as that’s where the power users on the Microsoft platform hang out. People who are already creating “applications” using Excel and Access should now have the ability to create Silverlight applications using Lightswitch for Office. If it were in the Office stable, Microsoft would get a double win. Firstly, devs would get off their backs about there being a “toy” in the Visual Studio line up, and secondly, power users would win because they could stop writing mission critical software in Excel and Access and get their applications on a more “professional” footing.

So why do so many power users write so many apps in Office tools? Simple. A great many enterprises have outsourced their IT capacity. So now to get even the most simple application written someone has to fill out a form in triplicate, submit it to four different people and pay through the nose for it. Not to mention that when the application finally gets delivered, it’s “a day late and a dollar short”. And why do they go through this pain? Well they have no choice normally as the terms of the outsourcing agreement means that all development and support work on applications must be done by the outsourcing company.

However, under many such agreements, Office is deemed to be “software of personal productivity” and so falls outside of the agreement, mainly because Office is on every desktop in the enterprise and if the outsourcing company had to support it, they’d never been done fielding calls of the “how to I make titles bold?” variety. However, this loophole means that if someone want a new application, this side of Armageddon, then they can write it immediately using Excel or Access.

So what do you think, am I right, should Lightswitch be in the Office stable? Leave you comments in the… well, comments.

The session discussed is Drew RobbinsDEV206 - Building Business Applications with Visual Studio TechEd Europe 2010.

image I described LightSwitch as a potential Access 2010 competitor in my forthcoming Microsoft Access 2010 In Depth book.


  1. I wonder how using visual studio to extend the code generated by lightswitch falls into the idea of moving it to a different group?

    (the devs are just insecure, unless it gets dropped, it will generate professional level code at some point)

  2. As someone that has written many useful applications in MS Access, I resent that you refer to them as "applications".