I have just installed and created my first form using the Microsoft LightSwitch Beta. I first heard about this product about 3 years ago at a Conference and actually was called by someone on the project early to get my thoughts on such an application from my perspective as an experienced Access developer…. then nothing until LightSwitch was announced. In actual fact I didn’t even know MS had gone anywhere with this product until it was displayed at the conference in Holland two weeks ago. So much for my position as an insider at Microsoft :-).
So now we have a product from the VS Team that is directly designed to compete in the exact “space” as Microsoft Access. From the “Overview” inside the Beta Docs:
“Welcome to Visual Studio LightSwitch, a new development tool for building business applications. LightSwitch simplifies the development process, letting you concentrate on the business logic and doing much of the remaining work for you. By using LightSwitch, an application can be designed, built, tested, and in your user’s hands quickly.”
Sound familiar? But very strange….
For years Access has been “dissed” by the VS crowd as a “toy” for use by amateurs who create terrible, risky, insecure and fundamentally irresponsible “solutions” that they wish would sinply go away. So now they have their own “Access” targeted at exactly the same market of “non-professionals” to create the exact same type of application.
I simply do not get this.
My initial fear about this product was that it was going to be a replacement for Access which would create uncertainty in the market-place and lead to the end of Microsoft Access by becoming its “Official” replacement. That would not be good for people like me frankly who would have to learn an entirely new product in order to deliver basically the same kind of solutions – a scary prospect frankly. But I could accept such a decision by Microsoft as something that probably would make sense for them and their bigger picture. I likely would have supported it whole-heartedly.
Instead I see Access moving forward with some very exciting new features and capabilities in 2010 (including in the Browser-only environment) and a sweet Client/Server story. Then Microsoft ships this product as a direct competitor to Access from inside the VS world (??)
My initial impression has nothing to do with the technology of LightSwitch (which I can only assume will do the job eventually) but rather it looks to me like LightSwitch should have been the replacement for Access or the effort put into it might have been better spent on a better and a .NET version of Access.
To end up with two products that compete with other, with one(Access) an established product with a following (despite all the efforts to destroy it from the VS community) and the other (LightSwitch) pitched as a direct replacement for Access for non-professionals from within the very VS family that has always hated Access, is just plain bizarre IMHO.
Let’s see how this plays out. But at this point I don’t think this is going to end well for anyone … so why do this?