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LightSwitch is “The One”

Ok I’m calling it, I have felt this way for a while now, but now that I have had a chance to put together a strong case. Take a look at this walk-thru of an end to end application created in about 20 minutes: LightSwitch Student Information System.

The key “take away” is that all the fields are properly validated, there is full referential integrity, and… The UI is consistent. All the buttons and paging work properly. Dare I say it has LESS bugs than if it was coded manually, not to mention is was coded 900% faster?

So, I can finally say what I have been feeling…

LightSwitch is… “The One”

The “One What” you ask?

The application that will allow non-programmers to make business programs that don’t suck.

Legend always foretold of a program…”, and we laughed at the failed attempts. But now it has finally arrived, and naturally the thought of the threat to our livelihood as programmers causes many of us to to tremble in fear.

Well yeah, be afraid, be very afraid!

I have seen it happen before when the DotCom boom hit, and the world wide web drove a lot of otherwise happy programmers out of work. But, that was only the programmers who resisted change. We always have a choice, we can resist change or embrace it.


Resistance is futile, here is how you can embrace and prosper from the coming change:

  • LightSwitch is what non-programmers will use to Start a project. Once a project is viable they will gladly hand it off to a programmer.
  • You need a programmer to make some of the screens more productive. For example, LightSwitch can be used to take attendance… one day and one student at a time. A programmer can make a custom control that will make this act normally (simply mark the students who are absent, and mark all other students present in one click).
  • LightSwitch is good for “back office” tasks. The “parent portal” for the Student Information System, can still be done in MVC/ASP.NET/PHP/NHibernate (yeah it’s just SQL Server data).

Again, the “take-away” is:

The PIE just got BIGGER

The one product that will take a hit from LightSwitch is Microsoft Excel. The majority of business processes are probably run using Excel. You don’t have to risk looking like a idiot, and wasting money on a programmer, if you just use Excel, so that is what people do.

The problem is you cannot “upsize” a project that consists of 20 Excel worksheets on a shared drive glued together with nearly 1000 Vlookups.

But, with LightSwitch, non-programmers will discover that if they start with LightSwitch, a programmer wont curse them out later when their “little project to track customer complaints” turns into a integral part of the companies work flow.

This is A Good Thing

Perhaps the most productive business tool since… well Microsoft Excel, has been introduced. If you jump on board now you can ride this wave.

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Showing 3 Comments
Avatar  Michael Washington 8 years ago

@Ryan - he is reviewing a Beta 1 so there will be changes. As to a professional developer being able to alter a LightSwitch app, I have an entire site <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> that demonstrates this.

Avatar  Ryan 8 years ago

Ayende has several good posts reviewing Lightswitch which are much better articulated than I could do here. His best one is the analysis of how LightSwitch queries for data.<br><br><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a><br><br>Also, the idea that professional programmers will be able to easily modify a LightSwitch app is probably a myth. There is no XAML being generated to customize. I agree there is a time and place for LightSwitch, but I don't think it's as great as you describe here.

Avatar  Paul Patterson 8 years ago

Great post Michael.<br><br>When writing the LightSwitch articles on my blog, I've always tried to keep to the context of who the target audience is - those business analyst types that know the business process, and have some basic database concept skills. These folks are not hard code developers, nor are they software architects.<br><br>With that in mind, what I find interesting is that it takes more for me to find something new that hasn't already been said. LightSwitch makes it so easy for these people to create an application, that there is no need to write anything about extension points or custom coding. The point being is that offering is; simple, easy to use, and will be able to solve problems fast.<br><br>When the announcement, and subsequent beta release, first came out, there was a lot of subjective opinions on why LightSwitch is "not" good. That mild storm of pessimism seems to have all but disappeared. I too can see the value and opportunities for the enterprise. It's not a bandwagon I'm jumping on with LightSwitch, it's the understanding that this product is going to be bigger that what a lot of people anticipate. That is why we have gotten involved early - big opportunities for us to make money.<br><br>Cheers!<br><br>Paul